Zenpad 7.0: Zen in style


  • TECH
  • Monday, 02 Nov 2015

Pix of Asus tablet and accesories.

Users seeking a dash of chic and room for customisation will love this affordable tablet.

The ZenPad 7 range offers compact ­tablets that let you make a fashion ­statement.

Customisation is one of the key features and it’s made possible through accessories (sold separately) such as the Zen Clutch, Power Case and Audio Cover.

Pix of Asus tablet and accesories.
The very portable ZenPad 7.0 boasts an elegant look and feel. — RICKY LAI/The Star

I’ll be reviewing the ZenPad 7.0 tablet, which is not to be confused with another model from the same series, the ZenPad C 7.0, which has a cheaper price tag and ­different specifications.

Simple and sleek

It’s nice that Asus has given the tablet a feminine touch but it also received good feedback from members of the opposite gender, so it’s safe to say that it has universal appeal.

I liked the design as the tablet has an elegant look and feel, and as it’s only 110.9mm wide and weights 272g, it was easy to carry around. Only the wide bezel felt a tad too wide.

There are no physical buttons for navigation, so the front of the device is neat and simple – there is nothing else beneath the screen save for the Asus logo.

Pix of Asus tablet and accesories.
The Zen Cover in Aqua Blue (forefront). — RICKY LAI/The Star

The ZenPad 7.0 is available in three colours (Black, White and Aurora Metallic) and features interchangeable back covers known as the Zen Cover.

There are five varieties that you can buy – Obsidian Black, Pearl White, Aqua Blue, Vibrant Orange and Aurora Metallic.

My Aurora Metallic review unit also came with an additional Aqua Blue Zen Cover. Asus says the extra Zen Cover is bundled with all units sold in Malaysia, which is nice.

Sound and vision

Audio quality was decent though the volume levels weren’t really ­sufficient for watching movies — even with the volume at max, I found it hard to hear dialogues ­clearly. However, volume doesn’t seem to be an issue when it comes to playing music.

This limitation in volume control would probably be one of the ­reasons why you may want to consider the Audio Cover add-on, but more on this later.

Pix of Asus tablet and accesories.
The Audio Cover contains five speakers and a subwoofer that Asus claims will allow you to pump up the volume 6x higher. — RICKY LAI/The Star

According to Asus, the tablet has a DTS HD Premium Sound feature which gives you an immersive ­surround sound experience when using headphones. It was not off the mark, as the sound was really good, especially for songs with ­distinct bass lines.

As for the camera, it captured ­satisfactory photos and videos, although selfies taken with the front camera turned out a little grainy at times.

The tablet has a Low Light mode, one of the features unique to Asus devices, and it works well for ­capturing pictures in semi darkness.

It has 16GB of in-built storage, out of which almost 5GB is taken up by the OS, so you don’t ­really have much to work with. But there is a microSD card slot that saves the day, allowing you to add 128GB more space.

Asus also gives you free 5GB of lifetime Webstorage Space, and 100GB of storage on Google Drive for two years.

Battery runs out really quickly – it will last till the end of the day, but that’s with moderate usage. In other words, when you’re only consuming content on the device in short bursts and not streaming music or videos continuously.

There is a Power Case accessory you can buy if you wish to keep your tablet going for a longer duration.

Pix of Asus tablet and accesories.
The optional Power Case accessory should keep your ZenPad 7.0 going for another half a day at least. — RICKY LAI/The Star

The ZenPad 7.0’s performance was mostly good in my experience, even when switching between apps, although there were instances of lag with some apps like Pinterest.

One more thing worth pointing out is that this tablet only supports 2G and 3G networks. So if you want LTE for faster surfing speed, you are out of luck.

Customisable covers

The ZenPad comes with cool add-on accessories which can be used to customise the tablet to suit your usage.

As its name suggests, the Zen Clutch is a case that encloses the entire tablet, including the front screen, and transforms its ­appearance into what looks like a lady’s clutch bag. (In comparison, Zen Covers only attach to the back of the tablet, leaving the screen and front of the device exposed).

Pix of Asus tablet and accesories.
The Zen Clutch disguises your ZenPad 7.0 as a ladies' clutch bag. — RICKY LAI/The Star

On the inside of the Clutch, there are two pockets for you to store cards and such. It has a leather-like finish on the outside and a microfiber interior. It can also ­function as a tablet stand and is priced at RM119.

I like the way the Zen Clutch is designed as it gives the tablet a ­premium look and feel. The Clutch weighs 155g by itself, so it does not add significant weight.

As for the Audio Cover, Asus claims it will give users a cinematic audio experience while on the go.

It’s said to contain five speakers and a subwoofer which will allow you to pump up the volume 6x ­higher.

Pix of Asus tablet and accesories.
The Audio Cover improves the tablet's audio quality but it comes with a hefty price tag. — RICKY LAI/The Star

It will also offer six hours of ­continuous use on a single charge, and just like the Zen Clutch, it also functions as a case and stand.

Although the cover improves the device’s audio quality, I feel that some may be put off by the RM249 price tag and extra weight of 211g.

Last but not least, the Power Case is rated to extend the tablet’s battery life for up to 15 hours. It attaches to the back of the tablet in the same way as a Zen Case. There is an on-screen battery indicator visible from the Home screen so you can easily keep track of how much power it has left. It weighs 100g and retails for RM109.

Pix of Asus tablet and accesories.
The Clutch comes with two pockets for storage, a leather-like exterior finish and a microfiber interior, and can also ­function as a stand. — RICKY LAI/The Star

For some reason, despite it contributing only 100g of extra weight, I somehow felt it was extra bulky. In terms of the boost to the battery life, it did keep the review unit going for an additional half a day or more, so it does live up to its promise.

Of the three accessories, I would most likely purchase the Power Case because it offers the best value for money. The Zen Clutch is nice to have, but not essential. And the Audio Cover makes the tablet a little too heavy.

Conclusion

All in all, Asus has a pretty decent tablet in the form of the ZenPad 7.0. It’s appealing both in appearance and functionality.

It’s reasonably priced too – it’s worth checking out if you are in the market for a stylish, affordable tablet that’s customisable.

Pros: Compact and lightweight; trendy design; satisfactory ­performance; customisable with ­covers; affordable.

Cons: Camera produces grainy images at times; no LTE support.

Zenpad 7.0
(Asus)
Android tablet
Network: 2G, 3G
Operating system: Android 5.0 (Lollipop)
Processor: 64-bit quad-core Intel Atom x3 processor
Display: 7in WSVGA (1,280 x 800)
Battery: 13 Wh Li-polymer ­battery
Cameras: 8-megapixels (rear), 2 megapixels (front)
Connectivity: 802.11bgn, Bluetooth 4.0
Memory: 16GB storage
Expansion slot: MicroSD, up to 128GB
Other features: DTS HD Premium Sound front speaker, 5GB lifetime ASUS Webstorage Space, 100GB of Google Drive space for two years
Dimensions (W x D x H): 110.9 x 189 x 8.7mm
Weight: 272g
Price: RM749 (inclusive of GST)
Rating: 4 stars
Review unit courtesy of Asus Malaysia, 1-300-88-3495

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