As the math development expert on LeapFrog’s Learning Team, Jody works on products across all…
Best Asus Tablet Black Friday Deals
Android tablets aren’t the shining example that almost all of us would hope them to be. Some even argue these tablets are dying a slow, uninteresting death in the wake of poor sales figures and declining consumption across multiple sectors. All of this doom and gloom in this saturated market most importantly hasn’t discouraged Asus from taking stabs at night, though.
Recently, our personal Corbin took a glance at the ZenPad 3S 10. He came away rather impressed, calling it one of the better Android tablets around. I now want to provide that crown to the ZenPad Z10, which steals it with an improved SoC, bigger battery, and Verizon LTE support.
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But what’s that worth in the decline of the device segment? Very little, in all honesty. However, you may still find places where this tablet shines enough to provide me a little, fleeting hope.
Design and Display
Like the ZenPad 3S 10, the Z10 includes a strikingly familiar design. A lot of the design language is comparable to that of the very most recent iPads, from the camera placement to the decision in navigation. The 9.7″ screen is an ideal size, however, and with the svelte metal body, the Z10 can be an absolute joy to use. Weighing in at 490g, it’s no feather. Regardless, the weight is a lot more than worth it taking into consideration the size of the battery.
It will come in one color: an extremely nice gray. That nice, subtle finish is merely disturbed by a tiny strip of glass at the very top for the antennae. The round camera module sits in the upper left corner, protruding slightly. You will see the Asus logo displayed prominently in the guts, with Verizon’s logo and the FCC information at the bottom. To be frank, since that is a Verizon exclusive, I am surprised that Big Red’s logo isn’t as large or bigger than Asus’. Not that I’m complaining, actually.
Leading of the Z10 houses the stunning screen. Holding it in portrait mode, the front-facing camera is smack in the center of the most notable bezel and the Samsung-esque navigation buttons are along underneath. Along the proper side, you will see the energy button and volume rocker. All of these have satisfying clicks with that right amount of resistance to avoid you from accidentally pressing them. Underneath of the frame houses the USB-C port and the stereo speakers, as the top only carries the 3.5mm jack and the left gets the SIM/SD card tray.
The navigation bugs me, and not merely because I am an outspoken fan of on-screen softkeys. The house button is hollow and feels cheap, especially in comparison to remaining tablet, as the Back and Recents buttons are left to sit very near the center. Honestly, it really is like by using a Samsung phone with how they are spaced. Those two keys usually do not light whatsoever, making navigating at night unpleasant. Seriously, who thought it could be smart to omit a backlight for these?
The speakers certainly are a point of contention for me personally. Not merely are they bottom-mounted, so my hand covers them when in landscape mode, nonetheless they aren’t that good. You will find a large amount of distortion and crackling even at roughly 60% volume. Notifications are tinny, vocals tend to be distorted, and there is little which makes me excited to use these speakers. Alternatively, plugging in a set of headphones gives you usage of the DTS Headphone:X experience, which brings 7.1 channel virtual sound near your ears. This definitely really helps to counterbalance the subpar speaker experience.
I know that I keep mentioning the screen, so let’s enter it. The resolution will come in at 2048 x 1536, which is merely a tad above 2K, and sports a 178° viewing angle. The medial side bezels measure in at 5.32mm and overall, the Z10 includes a 78% screen-to-body ratio. Just like the 3S 10, the display is easily among the finest features of this product. The colors are perfect and the contrast is spectacular, whatever the brightness level.
Overall, Asus really achieved reduced feel to the tablet, without the nav keys. From the final to the measurements, the Z10 is a joy to carry.
Tablet cameras are generally pretty awful. Knowing that, the ZenPad Z10’s isn’t too bad. It favors overexposure in nearly every situation, especially indoors. HDR really helps to mitigate this a bit, however, not much. There are a good amount of modes to experiment with, including a depth mode that hearkens back again to the HTC One M8 without the dual camera. Color balance is unquestionably lacking, too. Let’s face it, though: tablets shouldn’t have rear cameras.
Instead, I’d rather them focus more on leading cameras. The 5MP on the Z10 does okay, I assume. It isn’t worth a damn for the selfie game, and it just barely passes for video chatting. It gets the same issues as the trunk camera, only way more. It struggles in low-light, pushing out noisy photos, and the “Beautification” setting isn’t as effective as it might seem.
Let’s move on.
Performance and battery
Following the disappointing camera experience, I believe it’s time to make contact with the positives. The ZenPad Z10 chugs along wonderfully whatever I am doing. The hexa-core Snapdragon 650, in conjunction with the Adreno 510, makes excellent work of any task, game, or video. Pushing that lots of pixels, you would feel that there will be some stutter every now and then. I never really had anything of the type.
As usual, listed below are the benchmarks for anybody who care.
3GB of RAM is significantly less than I’d like to see, nonetheless it does what I want it to accomplish. Apps loaded up quickly and I saw no proof the aggressive RAM management that I am used to on the devices that I review.
Gaming performance was excellent. I don’t game much on mobile, but I really do prefer to play Hearthstone and Sky Force every once in awhile. As with the overall OS itself, I came across no lag or framerate drops in either of these, nor in virtually any of the games that my partner plays.
I have mentioned previously the battery life and how good it really is. The massive 7,800mAh cell can be an absolute champ, in a way that when it finally died a number of days following its initial charge, I was actually excited. With reduced to moderate usage, the Z10 lasted almost nine days on WiFi exclusively. Doze mode in Marshmallow definitely helps and if Asus did other things in ZenUI for battery life, it isn’t apparent in the UX. On LTE and WiFi, the full total time dropped to just shy of a week.
Neither of the is anything to sneeze at, but how does the battery fare under heavy usage? At 100% brightness with a day of heavy gaming, YouTube, Netflix, and Plex streaming, and IM chats, I acquired about 6.5 hours of screen-on-time. Those conditions are in no way how I normally use a tablet, so if you are any thing like me, expect a higher number.
Asus hasn’t had a good background with either good software or software updates. I recall my old Transformer TF103C sitting on KitKat for… well, forever. While I am still not certain about update reliability in this instance, I am pleased to say that ZenUI has markedly improved in the years since that time. It generally does not irritate me like other software “skins,” but nor do I particularly enjoy it. It’s just meh.
There are multiple facets to ZenUI, from the colour palette and overall design to the launcher to the “bloatware.” Not absolutely all of these factors are bad or poorly implemented, but ZenUI makes some odd choices occasionally. I usually choose the “stock” feel of Android, but I applaud Asus to make an attempt to increase the rather lackluster declare that Android on tablets has devolved into recently.