The Asus ZenPad C 7.0 is the first 7-inch Android tablet to arrive for us to review this year.
I am not surprised though. Android tablets of this size seem to have fallen out of favour after arguably peaking with the Google Nexus 7 - also built by Asus.
Such tablets are being squeezed out of the market by smartphones with screens of 5 to 6 inches. Instead, tablet makers now favour 8-inch models, probably because their wider screens are better suited for browsing Web pages than the narrow display on a 7-inch slate.
PROCESSOR: Intel Atom x3-C3200
DISPLAY: 7 inches, 1,024 x 600 pixels
CAMERA: 2 megapixels (rear), 0.3 megapixels (front)
STORAGE: 8GB, microSD expandability up to 64GB
FEATURES 1 2 3 4 5
DESIGN 1 2 3 4 5
PERFORMANCE 1 2 3 4 5
VALUE FOR MONEY 1 2 3 4 5
BATTERY LIFE 1 2 3 4 5
OVERALL 1 2 3 4 5
My biggest issue with the ZenPad is its 1,024 x 600-pixel display. Text and icons look blurred at this relatively low screen resolution. Those used to sharp displays on premium smartphones will probably have the hardest time adjusting.
It is not entirely bad. The screen has good viewing angles and the colours look accurate.
What I like most are the ZenPad's $199 price tag and premium looks. The textured back and chrome edges make it a handsome slate.
Powering the tablet is an Intel Atom processor designed in Singapore. Codenamed SoFIA, this processor is intended for inexpensive mobile devices.
Other important specs include 1GB of memory, 8GB of internal storage and a microSD card slot.
There are ample connectivity options with this tablet. You can surf the Internet using Wi-Fi or a 3G data plan. You can make voice calls. The tablet even has dual SIM card slots (microSIM), which is handy for frequent travellers.
To ensure things tick smoothly on the limited 1GB memory, Asus included an app called Auto-start Manager that prevents other apps from running in the background. This helps conserve memory and extend battery life. Xiaomi has a similar feature in its MIUI interface.
Asus' ZenUI skin runs on top of Android 5.0. Some of its Asus-made apps could be useful - such as PC Link, which mirrors the tablet display on a PC via USB or Wi-Fi. However, given the limited internal storage, you might want to remove some of the included apps if you do not plan to use them.
Do not expect blazing-fast performance. Apps take longer to open than in other, albeit more expensive, tablets. There was also some lag while navigating the interface.
Battery life was around 5hr 35min, which is poor for a small tablet. In contrast, Samsung's recent 8-inch Galaxy Tab A slate managed almost 10 hours. Even though the ZenPad has a smaller battery than the Galaxy, I was still expecting it to last seven to eight hours.
•An inexpensive 3G tablet that offers middling performance and battery life.