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Asus ZenPad Z8 review: Here's your new favorite budget Android tablet

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The Good The Asus Zen Pad Z8 starts at only $149 with 4G LTE. It's slim and lightweight with a sharp, bright screen and smooth performance. The battery lasts longer than the vast majority of tablets and charges quickly via USB-C.

The Bad The front-facing speaker and camera quality leave a lot to be desired.

The Bottom Line While it's not fit for writing your next term paper on, the Asus ZenPad Z8 is our favorite budget Android tablet and is perfect for casual use.

8.0 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 8
  • Performance 8

You know the type of love song where the singer basically just lists a bunch of generic things about the person they're enamored with? Like hair and eyes? That's kind of how I feel about the Asus Zen Pad Z8. There isn't just one specific, unique thing about it; it's everything -- the whole package -- that makes it special.

While I don't plan to write a ditty about the Z8 anytime soon, I'm not above rattling off a list to justify my infatuation. Its sharp, bright colorful screen make it great for catching up on episodes of UnReal; its perfectly portable size reminds me of carrying around a paperback book; it has 4G LTE so you can play Hearthstone while relaxing at the park and it packs a long-lasting battery. The best part? It's totally affordable.

The catch is that it's only available through Verizon. It costs $249 off contract or $149 with a two-year agreement. Verizon also offers qualified customers with a 25-month payment plan that makes it less than $11 per month.

Satisfyingly smooth

  • Android 6.0.1
  • Snapdragon 650 CPU
  • Adreno 510 GPU
  • 2GB of RAM
  • 16GB of internal storage
  • MicroSD card slot expandable up to 128GB
  • USB-C

A tablet is a glorified toy. Any parent who frequently hands theirs over to their kids knows this. Though some tablets -- like your Surfaces and iPad Pros of the world -- make great laptop replacements, most are like the Asus ZenPad Z8 -- meant for casual tasks, like streaming video, playing games, checking email and browsing the web.

Because of its $149 to $249 retail price (depending on whether you get it under contract or not), the Asus ZenPad Z8 could be considered cheap, (for comparison's sake, the newest Samsung and Apple tablets in the same size category will cost you a cool $400) however it doesn't feel, look or act cheap; apps launched swiftly, web pages and videos loaded in seconds, and it charges fast via USB-C.

It has a USB-C connector on the bottom edge.

Josh Miller/CNET

It averaged 12 hours of life in our battery test, which is really good for an Android tablet; iPads usually hit that number or above.

On separate occasions, I streamed a few episodes of "Supernatural" (catching up) and "Gilmore Girls" (re-watching) on the 4G LTE network with the screen brightness and volume cranked all the way up, and I never had to worry about the battery dying. Wish I could say the same thing about my laptop.

Benchmarks

Asus ZenPad Z8
17,856
3,638
1,536
Asus ZenPad S 8.0
13,468
2,927
919
Apple iPad Mini 2
15,015
2,465
1,374

Legend:

3DMark score (Ice Storm Unlimited)
Geekbench 3 score (Multi-core)
Geekbench 3 score (Single-core)

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

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