A follow-up and review of ASUS ZenPad 8.0 Z380KL, a stylish tablet for professionals, after two years of usage as an artist, fashion designer and blogger.
22nd December, 2015. I was in my native with my one and a half month old little wonder. It was a pleasant surprise to see ASUS ZenPad 8.0 Z380KL arrived home. It was given to me for reviewing and to keep it for myself. My first impressions of ASUS ZenPad is posted here.
ASUS ZenPad 8.0 – Review after 2 years
I have been using ZenPad for two years now. I use it for drawing, illustrating, photo editing and typing. Here is my honest review of ASUS ZenPad being an artist, fashion designer and blogger.
Specifications and Performance
Technically, ASUS ZenPad 8.0 Z380KL specifications say it is an LTE supported callable tablet with a Qualcomm® MSM8929 Octa-Core CPU, 2GB RAM and 16GB internal memory (expandable up to 64GB) with Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow OS (initially with android 5.0 Lollipop OS) running new ZenUI interface.
Non-technically speaking about performance, my ZenPad usually calmly bears all the tortures of keeping several design apps running and opening number of browser tabs when I am working on an artwork or a blog post. I use Adobe Photoshop Sketch app, Autodesk Sketchbook app and Photo Editor app for artworks and for design illustration works. If CPU gets hot, I get a notification to cool it down and I do that.
My ZenPad hung only once (in September 2017). The power button didn’t work. But, issue got resolved somehow when I removed the case.
Display feature is important for an artist and a design professional. My ASUS ZenPad has a 76.5% wide screen-to-body ratio, 8 inch WXGA 1280×800 high definition IPS panel display with anti-fingerprint coating. The two layered display uses ASUS TruVivid technology for optical transparency, ASUS VisualMaster for visual adjustments, ASUS Splendid app for colour enhancing, wide viewing angle, Tru2Life technology for outdoor reading and optional blue light filter for reading.
I haven’t used their stylus yet. I draw and illustrate using my fingertip. I see the screen is sensitive to light and deep touches for fingers. However, it is quite challenging to get the lines at exact places. I hope stylus could help make sketches finer.
10 finger multi-touch control makes typing faster. After December 2015, I have done most of the works for my two blogs in my ZenPad itself. I use laptop for photo editing in Photoscape and for some formatting needs. I have not tried keyboard typing.
My ASUS ZenPad has a 4000mAh, 15.2Wh non-removable Li-polymer Battery. I use my ZenPad extensively while working. So, I need to charge it everyday. When kept idle after clearing cache, I don’t need to charge it for three days. I haven’t played videos much in my tab. So, not sure how the battery performs while playing videos and games.
ASUS ZenPad can be teamed with power case to extend battery backup. It sounds pretty good for design professionals. (I haven’t used a power case).
The Audio Cover
A DTS-HD Premium Sound speaker is built in to the ASUS Audio Cover. As I have mentioned in my first review, audio quality is excellent with virtual 5.1 surround sound when experienced with headphones or earbuds. Battery backup is upto six hours. Audio Wizard app assists to adjust the audio requirements. The tablet displays audio cover battery details.
Unfortunately, my audio cover stopped working within four months (April 2016). Battery details display disappeared too. Audio cover service is not provided at all the ASUS service centres. I had been quite busy with my little one, home organising and blogging. So, I couldn’t take it to service within warranty period. Hence, I cannot talk much about audio cover. Still, I like to keep my ZenPad in standing mode using audio cover.
ASUS ZenPad 8.0 has two PixelMaster cameras – an 8MP rear camera and a 2MP Front Camera. Some of the effects include auto, HDR, beautification, rear camera selfie, 140 degree selfie panorama, all smiles, time lapse, time rewind, low light mode, night mode and smart remove.
The camera options are too good. Rear camera is good. But, camera zoom is not effective. I don’t prefer a tablet for capturing pictures due to its size.
ZENUI Interface and Personalization
Personalisation of the new ZenUI interface (35 in built apps, 1000+ customisation features) is fun. I have disabled unwanted inbuilt apps that can be installed any time. Customisation features give a lot of freedom to personalise the tab.
I like the shortcut options ZenMotion (touch gestures and motion gestures) provides. Touch gesture can be enabled for phone, camera, clock, weather, gallery. The particular gesture immediately opens app when the display is off. If screen lock is applied, I unlock the screen to see the app opened. I have used them for trial purpose only. I use Double tapping of the off screen to wake up ZenPad. Flip the tab option for making a call silent or pausing a video/audio works well for me. I think, other motion gestures are not comfortable with a large device like a tablet.
Assistance and Security
MyASUS app provides 24/7 assistance. I had used instant online chat twice for audio cover issue. The issue remained but the chat assistance was good.
I didn’t need the Kids Mode app and SnapView (two views for two accounts) though they are useful.
Networking and Data Sharing
ASUS ZenPad is a callable tablet with LTE support. It can be connected to Wi-Fi or internet. I have used all the options. Because of callability and LTE support, I was able to work in my native, a village in Dakshina Kannada, too. ZenPad doesn’t support Vo-LTE yet. ASUS has upgraded some of its phones to Vo-LTE. Hope ZenPad gets upgraded in future.
Wireless data sharing is easy with PC Link. There is also a Remote Link option that makes ASUS ZenPad a PowerPoint controller or Windows Media Player controller.
Appearance, styling and ease of use
ASUS ZenPad 8.0 Z380KL is an elegant 350g tablet having 209mm*123mm*8.5mm dimension. It has an 8 inch IPS LCD display. My ZenPad is black in colour with a black case and interchangeable black audio cover with leather pattern. I use the audio cover, though it makes the light tab heavier, as it protects the tab. It is very comfortable to hold while working and while carrying.
My ZenPad is looks brand new even after two years.
A Zen clutch could be a better option to protect keeping the tab light. Coloured Zen clutches and Zen cases make the tablet more fashionable. (I haven’t used).
My Conclusion after Two Years Usage
‘Beauty meets brain’, is what suits ASUS ZenPad. It’s a stylish tablet that performs quite well. My blogging experience has changed drastically after using ZenPad. I took courage and moved my blogs to own domains. Now I am more regular in blogging in spite of having a busy two year old around. In addition to that, I am able to add digital arts and illustrations too. All these happened because of my ASUS ZenPad.
I repeat most points I concluded in my first review – performance, user friendly ZenUI, personalisation, ease of browsing, callability and networking, audio-vedio quality, blue light filter – all made my professional life easier. Best part is that ZenPad feels still fresh in all the aspects (except audio cover), time has proven it’s credibility.
It may seem a bit expensive to buy ASUS ZenPad (not in terms of specifications), but worth it if you are an artist, design professional or music professional.
How important is a gadget for you as a professional? Do share your thoughts. Thanks!
PS: I received an ASUS ZenPad 8.0 Z380KL for review in December 2015. This is my honest review based on my experience as an artist, fashion designer and blogger in the first two years after receiving the product. ASUS has not asked for this second review, it is all in love with ASUS ZenPad, an initiative to thank ASUS for its awesomeness.
My techie husband still bribes me to get my ZenPad for himself.