ASUS ZenPad 10 Z300M Review

So instead of fighting for the premium tablet market, Asus has gone for the budget market. The ZenPad 10 Z300M doesn’t exactly have a name that rolls off the tongue, but it does only cost $149. Okay, today I will share with my review of the ASUS ZenPad 10 Z300M. Before this, let’s have a look at below short video.

 

Hardware

ASUS ZenPad 10 Z300M

The entire back is made out of a textured plastic, though I actually appreciated that since it allows more grip than an aluminum back would. Still, it does feel cheap, if that’s your concern.

It’s a 10.1″ device with a 16×9 aspect ratio, rendering it a little shorter and wider than an iPad. All the logos indicate that it should be held in landscape mode, but you can easily rotate to portrait.

The rear-facing camera is located in the upper corner, but you should avoid using it at all costs. Use your smartphone camera, use your handheld camera, just use anything but this camera. It’s 5MP of terrible image quality, and that’s not to mention the achingly slow shutter speed.

ASUS ZenPad 10 Z300M

The 2MP front-facing camera is no better, but if you need to Skype, it will at least be able to handle that with all the pixelated loveliness we’ve come to expect from video chatting.

On the left side of the tablet, next to the camera, is the volume rocker. It’s plastic as well, but feels sturdy enough. The real button to watch out for is the power button, which sits on the top left of the device and is nearly flush with its surroundings, making it a little hard to feel for and press.

ASUS ZenPad 10 Z300M

Along the bottom left, you’ll find the micro-USB port (not USB Type-C) and the headphone jack.  There’s a bit of a raised edge from where the textured plastic meets the smooth plastic, but it doesn’t get in the way or feel too odd.

ASUS ZenPad 10 Z300M

It’s relatively thin at 0.31 inches (the 9.7″ iPad Pro is 0.27), and it’s surprisingly light at 1.08lbs (theiPad is 0.96). Compared to other budget tablets, like the Chuwi HiBook (our review), it’s very thin and lightweight.

ASUS ZenPad 10 Z300M

The screen is screen has a resolution of 1280 x 800, but it’s not Full HD, meaning you can watch 720p videos but not 1080p videos. It is an IPS display, however, which bestows admirable viewing angles. Though you might see a little pixelation due to the relatively low resolution, it does manage to get pretty bright, making it useful even outdoors.

ASUS ZenPad 10 Z300M

And if you’ve been wondering where the speaker is, it’s hard to find. It’s built-in to a very thin line along the top front of the device. This is actually a perfect position, because it gives you front-facing audio, and it’s out of the way of your hands so that you don’t block it while holding it. Even if you hold the tablet in portrait, the long speaker is impossible to fully cover with one hand. Overall, it’s a cheap device for sure, but it actually does a good job with what it has.

 

Software

Running under the hood is Android 6.0 Marshmallow, though it’s heavily styled by Asus’s Zen UI 3.0. Cosmetically, it makes a few changes that you might only notice if you’re used to using stock Android.

zenpad-7

The software keys retain the now-dated back arrow, house, and double squares; the notification menu that you can pull down from the top is white with light blue accents; a few features have been added in the Settings app; and there are some built-in apps.

Some of the added features are actually solid improvements on Android. The ZenPad 10 support double tap to wake and double tap to sleep, it supports “ZenMotion” actions like drawing a “C” on the screen to open straight to the camera, it allows for easily customizing the Quick Settings, it has a Kids Mode, and you can customize how the screenshot function works.

ASUS ZenPad 10 Z300M

On the other hand, the built-in apps are, for the most part, unexciting. The Asus Mobile Manager might be the one exception since it allows you stop apps from popping up notifications or auto-starting when you turn the tablet on. Unfortunately, it also offers the same kind of “Boost” feature that we’ve warned against using in the past.

Other built-in Asus apps include ZenPad Care, Backup, PhotoCollage, MiniMovie, ZenCircle (which seems like a social network used even less than Google+), Do It Later, File Manager, Gallery, Quick Memo, Splendid (which lets you adjust the screen’s color and saturation), SuperNote, Calculator, and AudioWizard. You can find better alternatives to most of the these in the Play Store, but for the casual user, they get the job done.

Performance

I was genuinely surprised by the performance, given that this tablet is only running on an MTK processor with 2GB of RAM, but it didn’t stutter through gaming, flipping through multiple tabs, or watching YouTube videos. For a budget device, its performance is phenomenal.

 

Conclusion

The Asus ZenPad 10 Z300M isn’t going to be the next big thing. It’s a budget tablet that makes major concessions in camera quality, doesn’t support the upcoming USB Type-C standard, and feels cheap and plasticky.