We’ve been working with ASUS, trying out some of their latest tech in a family setting, to see if we can work out from a baffling array of options which is best for which job in the house. This week my gaze turned to the Asus ZenPad 3S 10 review – which was snaffled swiftly away by the 14yr old, and borrowed heavily when his back is turned by the 10yr old.
They’ve been so busy with it that I’d barely had a chance to get a look.
So I stole it.
And if I can get away with it, I may not hand it back…
Asus ZenPad 3S 10 review
So what’s with the tablet then? First up – it feels oddly familiar in the hand. I couldn’t understand for a while why the home button felt so strange under my finger, but then I realised; I was expecting it to be a dimple. Because there’s no avoiding the fact that the ZenPad 3S 10 *whispers* looks like an iPad. Well, it does!
And the best part of that fact is that even though it’s an Android device, that huge beautiful screen is filled edge-to-edge. Asus have ignored the usual Android widescreen format, and used the old 4:3 ratio screen the way Apple do. And I love that!
Screen aside for the minute, though, the ZenPad 3S 10 is a very pretty boy. The forged aluminum body feels good in the hand – the curved edges are comfortable, and though the tablet is stupidly skinny (it weighs just 430g, and is only 5.8mm thin!) it feels engineered and well put together.
There are minimal external buttons – volume & power, and the home button. For added security (and more importantly to stop certain not-actually-earning-anything kids spending your bank balance on those in-app purchases), ASUS have built a finger print reader into the home button; set-up is easy, you can register multiple fingers and/or users, and with google wallet you can set it up to require your fingerprint to to allow you to make any purchases. Perfect.
On screen beside the home button are the usual phone options for back and multi-window view; but they only light up when the screen is touched.
Of course there’s a standard 3.5mm headphone slot, plus one USB Type-C port. And that’s it!
The speakers are on the edge of the tablet – they’re great for movie watching though music can sound a little tinny if you’re not using headphones. My only wish is that they weren’t on the edge where you hold the tablet – again, without headphones it’s all too easy to muffle the sound (which apparently is not actually all bad when you’re illicitly watching your favourite YouTuber after lights out…)
How’s the screen?
The screen? Oh this is where this tablet starts to sing. It’s a thing of beauty. It’s a sharp, rich 9.7-inch 2K IPS display with 2048 x 1536 resolution. The super-wide viewing angle (it’s practically 180º) means screen sharing is a doddle without needing to be extra-cosy in a huddle for you to show your aged parent a good view of that hilarious dog looking for the treat on his head.
And the gorgeous screen looks even bigger because of ‘the world’s thinnest bezel’ – at only 5.32mm, it gives ASUS ZenPad 3S 10 a 78% screen-to-body ratio. So pretty.
I particularly love the fact that it comes complete with Asus’ ‘Splendid’ software, which gives a huge amount of control over the screen (amongst every other aspect of how your tablet looks). My personal fave, though, is that there’s a blue light filter. Most parents know that these help with the brain stimulation, and reducing the blue light emission by up to 30% helps reduce the impact evening screen use has on sleep patterns. I didn’t really believe the first press release I read on it, but using this filter has definitely meant that the 15yr old sleeps earlier after he catches up on his latest videos before bed.
So What Can It Do?
Let’s be honest – we pretty much all use a tablet for entertainment purposes, especially when we’re on the move. And this is exactly where the ZenPad 3S 10 really flashes its gorgeousness – it’s just a perfect screen for watching films with it’s rich contrast and depth of colour.
I wouldn’t normally say that gaming in a tablet is an outstanding experience – but actually, Asus have really thought about it – which makes the tablet infinitely more appealing to the teen market of course.
Summoner’s War runs just fine with no frame lag – and of course there goes that screen again, making everything just that bit purtier.
We actually also like the pre-installed Game Manager app, which magically appears when you’re in game; use it to connect to your YouTube or Twitch account to live-stream gameplay, to find walk-throughs and even to flush the RAM to clean up your tablet speeds. Some will find it irritating and disable it, of course, but actually we’re fans, and love the fact that ASUS thought to design and include it.
The Technical Bit
The ZenPad 3S 10 has a super-fast hexa-coreprocessor, 4GB RAM, and IMG GX6250 graphics – which means that in general day-to-day use, the ZenPad 3S 10 is so smooth you won’t even think about the fact you’re ‘just on a tablet’. It boots fast (SO fast!), and switches between apps with no slow I’m-thinking-about-it hang up.
It takes just over 2hrs to charge from flat (though you can purchase an 18W adaptor to make use of the Quick Charge 3.0), and we find that with streaming/gaming/watching use we get about 6hrs before we need to charge – light use you’ll no doubt get the full 10hrs quoted.
Asus ZenPad 3S 10 review in a nutshell
Honestly? This is one of the best screens I’ve seen on an Android tablet, and that definitely led to a lot more tablet watching than usual; instead of taking the time to switch to different tech that can be shared to the TV, or moving to the less-comfortable PC, the kids were totally happy to just watch straight on the tablet.
I haven’t mentioned the camera – they’re adequate for snaps and Skype calls, but there’ll be no photographic awards with them.
At £300, the ZenPad 3S 10 is almost £100 cheaper than the rival iPad air 2 – and frankly with the freedom of the Android, that astonishing screen, the flexibility with the expansion slot and the all-out gorgeousness of the design, it’s hard to say why you’d spend the extra.
The ASUS ZenPad 3S 10 is currently available in Currys PC World for a penny under £300.