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Asus' Zenpad 3 8.0 packs decent specs inside its plastic body

Don't let the plastic chassis fool you, this tablet features top-end specs at a pretty affordable price point.

Unlike last year's 8-inch ZenPad S, the Asus ZenPad 3 settles for a more plasticky build. But don't be fooled, the tablet features specs as good as those on Apple's iPad Mini 4. This gives you an option to sacrifice on build quality if your budget's tight, while keeping decent performance.

It retails in Singapore for S$499, which converts to about $350 in the US, £280 in the UK and AU$470 in Australia respectively. It's currently not available in the US, but there's a cheaper 2GB RAM version being sold in Europe.

While I'm not a fan of the less than luxurious plastic rear, the textured surface does make for a very good grip. This tablet will not easily slip out of your hands, compared with say the smooth metal rear of the iPad Mini. The 7.9-inch, 2,048 x 1,536 pixel screen is bright and crisp, which makes watching videos on it a treat.

Powered by Android 6.0 Marshmallow, the tablet runs a heavily customized version of Google's mobile operating system. Asus has loaded plenty of its own tweaks into the system, which can result in a very frustrating experience if you prefer the stock Google OS. Right from the get go, I was prompted to update a total of at least 18 Asus apps, which doesn't sound very fun.

The power button is located on the right side along with the volume controls, and is easy enough to reach. On the rear you'll find an 8-megapixel camera, and if you like taking selfies, there's a front 2-megapixel shooter just for this.

Key Specs

  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 650, 1.8GHz
  • 4GB RAM
  • 4,680mAh embedded battery
  • 4G support
  • USB Type-C port

Meant as an entertainment device, the ZenPad's dual speakers are located at the front towards you, so you'll get a pretty good audio experience when playing games or watching videos. While I was initially worried about blocking the speakers with my fat palms, that wasn't the case.

The ZenPad 3 8.0 is a pretty good tablet to grab if you want a value tablet, but bear in mind it's currently only sold in select countries in Asia. If you're traveling to this part of the world and want to buy gadgets, this could be something worth considering.

asuszenpad3802.jpg

The front-facing speakers are located at the edge, but your hands aren't likely to block them.

Aloysius Low/CNET

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