The iPad Air 2 is one of the best tablets you can buy. And it's a better tablet than the Asus ZenPad 3S 10. But if the iPad Air 2's $399 (£379 or AU$719) starting price is too rich for your blood and you're a fan of the Android OS, you might want to give the Asus a try.
The $299 (£300) Asus is cheaper, great for watching video and comes with twice the amount of storage as the base level iPad Air 2. That means twice as many Netflix TV shows to download. It's not officially available in Australia but its price converts to about AU$535.
It also has a microSD card expansion slot to increase its storage and a sleek, compact feel that makes it pleasant to hold for long binge sessions. I'm not going to tell anyone to make the Asus their first choice, but if you have simple needs and are looking to save some cash, the ZenPad 3S 10 is a smart buy.
Here's what's good
- Build is comfortable, compact and sleek
- Smooth performance
- Large, sharp HD screen
- Expandable microSD card slot (up to 128GB)
- Charges quickly via USB-C
- 10.7 hour battery life
- Comfortable to hold
Here's what's bad
- Not as fast as the Apple iPad Pro 9.7 or Google Pixel C
- Speakers on the edge are easy to block when holding the tablet
- Screen is more prone to heavy reflections than the iPad Air 2
The Asus ZenPad 3S 10 has the same screen resolution as the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 and iPad Air 2, and while they all compare favorably in sharpness, there is notable difference in color.
The Samsung tablet's display is vividly saturated with rich colors and deep blacks. While that makes for a more dramatic image, it's almost too colorful-- like it went a little overboard with the Instagram filters. In comparison, the Asus's range of color is more subdued and lifelike, similar to the iPad Air 2's screen.
The crisp HD screen on the Asus ZenPad 3S 10 is perfect for HD video, but its speakers are a different story.
This is where the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 has a slight edge up. The Asus and Apple tablets have speakers on one edge, making them easy to block or muffle, depending on how you're holding the tablet, while Samsung's are on both its left and right edges, ensuring sound is equally distributed to both sides.
It's a small detail, but if you're going to primarily use the tablet as a portable TV and don't use headphones 100 percent of the time, it's something to keep in mind. Otherwise, the Asus speakers are loud and clear when it comes to dialogue in movies. They are disappointingly lacking in bass, so most music genres sound rather flat.
The Asus Zen Pad 3S 10, like the Galaxy Tab S2, falls short in gaming performance in comparison to the iPad Air 2. It takes more time to load big games and fell behind the Apple tablet in benchmarks.
N.O.V.A. 3 (Level one load times in seconds)
|Asus ZenPad 3S 10||13.2|
|Samsung Galaxy Tab S2||13|
|Apple iPad Air 2||4.84|
Should I buy it?
The Asus ZenPad 3S 10 is a great affordable tablet for anyone interested in a sharp portable video-watcher. It's no bargain basement doorbuster, but its $299 price is cheap in comparison to the $399 Apple iPad Air 2 and $499 Samsung Galaxy Tab S2. Which both come with 32GB at those prices, in contrast to the Asus's 64GB.Should I buy it?
More expensive tablets, such as the Google Pixel C and Apple iPad Pro 9.7 Pro have sleeker designs and faster performance, but if you just want a tablet for checking emails, lurking Facebook and watching a lot of video, the Asus perfectly fits the bill at a competitively low price.
- Android 6.0
- 9.7-inch screen
- 2,048x1,536-pixel resolution
- Hexa-core CPU (2.1GHz dual-core+1.7GHz quad-core)
- 4GB RAM
- 64GB of internal storage
- Micro-USB C port
- Fingerprint sensor
- Quick Charge 3.0
- microSD card slot expandable up to 128GB