Tablets have been around for a number of years now and its form had remained similar for the most part – a block of technology with glass on one side and a camera and/or buttons at the rear. Asus, being in constant search of incredible, figured that there could be something more – and from them we got just that: The ZenPad – a slate with an interchangable back cover that can serve to boost functionality and even style! This particular review focuses on the ZenPad 7 (Php7,995)- a bit better than the ZenPad C 7.0 (Php5,995) coming in second to the ZenPad S 8.0 (Php16,995)
The configuration is quite basic, nothing we haven’t seen from earlier device models, with the exception of its core which Intel calls Sofia. This Atom X3 has a modem integrated into the chip freeing up even more space to allow for creative reconfiguration leading to an overall form factor that is smaller and thinner than previous generations had required… and the proof is in the pudding as the feel of the ZenPad is so unlike that of my original Nexus 7. In the hand it almost feels just like a big phone and yet when the screen turns on you are presented with mostly screen and less of those bezels.
At the rear there is the camera and back cover which hides the proprietary interfacing pins, the SIM slot and the microSD card slot.
This is accessed thru a slit along the back side where you begin to pry open the connected accessory (seen below).
Along the side with the power/wake button and the volume rocker both discretely designed without any markings and simply denoted by length. We have a 3.5mm audio jack up top and the microUSB port and a mic at the bottom; and the glass front is shared by the screen, front cam, speaker grille, and some visible light sensors.
My primary recommendation to anyone who is getting the Zenpad is to update to the latest version immediately. No waiting on the OTA (over-the-air) notification… head on to the support page, download the zip file containing the latest firmware and flash it onto the device following the very basic instructions which can be summarized herein:
1. Get ZIP from the support site,
2. Unpack the archive,
3. Find the newly created .zip file,
4. Connect the ZenPad to the computer,
5. Copy the .zip file to the root, (this means just copy it to the internal storage outside of any folder)
6. Disconnect the ZenPad from the computer, (at which time there should be a notification on the device of a detected update package)
7. Tap on the notification and wait for the magic to happen.
You will lose some functionality with this upgrade (multiple user login is removed) but the benefits are so much that you wont miss em – just look at the battery stats below:
I’ve reskinned my UI through the installation of the Google Now Launcher – this is just me being used to the NexusUI for such a long time that I feel more comfortable with it. Don’t get me wrong – the ZenUI was built around the Intel core so you can only imagine the efficiency that it has over the other launchers! Plus you wont get the double tap to sleep feature with other launchers as well so I had to give that up.
What I like about the ZenPad is it is recognized as a true tablet and functions and scales as such, that even with less pixel density it displays the UI just like any old tablet would and that has benefits especially in the productivity department!
The screen is a very well balanced IPS LCD with a resolution of 1280×800 and Asus VisualMaster Tru2Life technology enhancement, I quite like it; though others find it to be a bit too dim… something that it does so consciously when automatic brightness is on. With the speakers up front, it also functions better as a media consumption device than most tablets whose speakers are oriented otherwise.
The volume output isn’t overly powerful but should you need that much intensity you’re better off using earphones/headphones anyway… or get the Audio Cover – giving you 5.1 Dolby DTS surround!
The Audio Cover and the Power Case are the two accessories available for the ZenPad 7 (there’re more for the ZenPad S 8.0 – ZenClutch) apart from the multi-colored ZenCases that invokes different styles of their own. No pricing had been determined for these but I definitely want the Power Case for my own – imagine having another 15 hours for mobile computing!!! I’d love to see what else the Asus engineers come up with that will enhance the experience further… keyboards anyone? ^^
Style might be the marketing push that Asus is going for but the ZenPad delivers on more than just that! The potential that can be found on the ZenPad can only be really limited by the imaginings of the user. This FonePad successor is truly an evolution; and with all the new technologies, it seems Asus is keen on maintaining and supplementing its following further through more incredible products for everyone… more of which will be presented at the ZenFestival this Saturday! Hope to see you there!