Asus ZenPad 10 ZD300C full review

The ZenPad 10 has a low price, a nice design, a UK keyboard, great sound, microSD support and okay battery life on its side, but it’s also slow and running old, bloated software. It can’t stand up to the best Android tablets, but at just under £200 it may well do the job. Let’s have a closer look at the Asus ZenPad 10 ZD300C. Also see: Best cheap tablets 2016.

Asus ZenPad 10 review: Price and UK availability

There are two variants of the Asus ZenPad 10. The Z300C is simply the tablet, while the ZD300C reviewed here comes with the AudioDock keyboard. You can pick up the ZD300C from eBuyer for £199.97.

A Z Stylus is also available for the ZenPad 10, which you can buy from Amazon for £26.60, although we weren’t supplied one for review. See all cheap tablet reviews.

Asus ZenPad 10 review

Asus ZenPad 10 review: Design and build

One of the best things about the ZenPad 10 is its design. It might be a plastic tablet, but it’s finished to a high standard with a metal-effect trim around the screen, smooth rounded corners and a grippy leather-effect rear on both the tablet itself and the bundled AudioDock keyboard. It looks much more expensive than it is, and it feels very well made.

The keyboard is of better quality than most Bluetooth keyboards, with a UK layout and - given the space available to it - sufficiently spaced keys. It can pair with up to eight devices, which will be useful if this is to be a family tablet, and has a wireless range of 10m. Also see: Best tablets coming in 2016.

The AudioDock must be charged separately to the tablet, which is a frustration, though it does have long battery life and we like the fact Asus has added a separate battery indicator to the keyboard to the tablet’s notification bar. If the tablet could lean back even slightly further it would be a vast improvement to usability, but the fact it doesn’t is likely due to this tablet’s weight.

Asus ZenPad 10 review

At 510g on its own and nearly 1kg with the keyboard, the Asus ZenPad 10 is no lightweight machine - it’s almost as heavy as some ultraportable laptops. But it does have a generous 10.1in screen, and there’s plenty of audio hardware built in for a more immersive multimedia experience. See all Android tablet reviews.

The screen itself uses IPS tech, which is common among tablets and provides realistic colours and strong viewing angles. Asus builds in several of its own VisualMaster screen technologies, which are said to optimise contrast, sharpness, colour, clarity and brightness on this fully laminated display. We like the overall effect, but it can’t escape the fact this is a low-resolution screen. With a 1280x800-pixel WXGA resolution, the ZenPad has a low pixel density of just 149ppi. The bezels are also fairly chunky, with a screen-to-body ratio of 72 percent.

Audio, meanwhile, is excellent for a budget tablet such as the ZenPad 10, with good bass and more volume than you need. The front-facing speaker has DTS-HD Premium Sound, which allows it to create a surround sound experience. This is also a feature of the AudioDock keyboard, which adds another pair of Bluetooth speakers and can offer up to 12 hours of music playback. Audio presets and customisable settings allow you to finetune audio to your taste or the specific task at hand.

Asus ZenPad 10 review

Asus ZenPad 10 review: Core performance and hardware

At first glance the ZenPad looks like a great budget tablet, but corners have to be cut somewhere and performance doesn’t even come close to the premium standard set by the tablet’s design. See all tablet reviews.

The ZenPad 10 is fitted with a 1.1GHz Intel Atom quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM and the Mali-450 MP4 GPU. General navigation is fast enough in its out-of-box state, but apps take several seconds to load and you won’t be able to play anything more intensive than casual games.

For a great many users performance will be sufficient for their daily tasks, such as a spot of web browsing and catching up on social media, but it has to be said you get what you pay for. You can’t really expect a 10.1in tablet to be sold with a keyboard, decent audio AND good performance at under £200.

Asus ZenPad 10 review

We ran the Asus through our usual benchmarks, and weren’t impressed by anything we saw. In Geekbench 3 it managed just 345 points single-core and 986 points multi-core, which is slower than anything we’ve seen in a very long time.

In the GFXBench graphics test it recorded a lowly 10fps in T-Rex and failed to run any of the more intensive tests. It also failed to run AnTuTu 3D and the JetStream JavaScript benchmark, and turned itself off halfway through our battery test.

Audio performance and battery life are this tablet’s saving grace, with the latter not coming as a great surprised given the low-power hardware inside. You should get 10 hours-plus from this tablet, depending on your usage. Also see: Best Android tablets 2016.

Asus ZenPad 10 review: Connectivity and extra features

Connectivity is very basic, with just 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 and GPS. There’s no NFC and no HDMI, although the ZenPad does support Miracast.

The ZenPad 10 has 16GB of internal storage, which isn’t usually enough but, given the poor-quality 2Mp rear- and 0.3Mp front cameras, you aren’t likely to be filling it up with photos and videos. Of this allocation around 12GB is available to the user, plus there’s a microSD slot that supports up to 64GB.

If you’re happy to use online storage then the Asus ZenPad comes with a 5GB lifetime allowance through Asus’ own cloud, plus 100GB for two years through Google Drive.

Asus ZenPad 10 review

Asus ZenPad 10 review: Software

Asus’ ZenPad runs Android 5.0 Lollipop, which has already been superceded by Android 6.0 Marshmallow, and in just a couple of months by Android 7.0 Nougat too. We don’t expect this tablet to ever be upgraded beyond Lollipop.

It has the Asus ZenUI user interface, which has some useful customisations but also a lot of bloat - you’ll find apps for the likes of Amazon Kindle, Zinio, TripAdvisor and Omlet Chat preinstalled, though you can uninstall them, as well as arguably more useful additions such as MiniMovie, PhotoCollage, Kids Mode and AudioWizard.

ZenMotion offers a range of touch- and motion gestures, such as the ability to double-tap to wake the screen or draw a letter on screen in standby mode to wake the tablet and launch a specific app of your choosing.

Asus ZenPad 10 review

Read next: Need a faster tablet? Check out our round-up of the best tablets 2016.

Follow Marie Brewis on Twitter.


Asus ZenPad 10 ZD300C: Specs

  • Tablet with AudioDock keyboard, available in Black, White and Aurora Metallic
  • Android 5.0 Lollipop
  • 10.1in WXGA (1280x800, 149ppi) fully laminated IPS display with Gorilla Glass and oleophobic coating
  • 64-bit 1.1GHz Intel Atom x3-C3200 quad-core processor
  • Mali-450 MP4 GPU
  • 2GB RAM
  • 16GB storage, 5GB lifetime Asus Webstorage space, 100GB Google Drive space for two years
  • microSD support up to 64GB
  • 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • Miracast
  • 2Mp (1600x1200) rear camera
  • 0.3Mp (640x480) front camera
  • 2x front speaker with DTS HD Premium Sound, Sonic Master technology, aptX
  • Micro-USB
  • headphone jack
  • 18Wh battery, 8 hours claimed battery life
  • 251.6x172x7.9mm
  • 510g (dock adds 415g)

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