Monthly Archives: December 2016

Cheap and Has a Nice Design ASUS ZenPad 10

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.

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.

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.

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 1280×800-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.

Stylus Chuwi Hi10 Pro Laptop

The Chuwi Hi10 Pro is a cheap tablet that dual-boots Windows 10 and Android Lollipop and to which you can add a stylus and keyboard to turn it into a cheap portable laptop. But is it any good? Read our Chuwi Hi10 Pro review to find out.

You won’t find a Windows 10 tablet much cheaper than this, with the Chuwi Hi10 Pro currently costing £128.53 at GearBest. The optional keyboard dock (a recommended purchase) is an extra £29.31, also from GearBest, while the HiPen H2 stylus can be bought from Geekbuying for £11.16. That’s a total price of £169, but note that you could be asked to pay import duty upon its arrival to the UK that would take the total price closer to £200. Even so, that’s a tiny amount of money for a product that is Windows 10 tablet, Android tablet, Windows 10 laptop and Android laptop.

Buying products from China typically returns huge savings, but you should always take into account the risks. Products can take several weeks to arrive, depending on which shipping option you select, and if they are faulty you’ll have the hassle of returning them at your cost and dealing with customer services in a non-EU country with different legislation. We’ve outlined some of the pros and cons in our separate article on buying grey-market tech, which is worth a read before you buy.

You might be paying less than £200, but you wouldn’t think it to look at Chuwi’s range of Windows 10 hybrids. In common with its brothers, the Hi10 Pro has a full metal build with chamfered edges that is reasonably stylish and feels built to last. Also see: Best Windows tablets and Best Android tablets

There are some giveaways of its budget roots, for example some rather thick screen bezels, a display that attracts fingerprints and some unsightly legends on the rear, but on the whole build quality is good.

The display, bar the fingerprint issue, is among the highlights, an IPS panel with a full-HD resolution of 1920×1200 pixels. It’s clear and bright enough in all but the sunniest conditions, and its 16:10 aspect ratio is well suited to media. Colours are realistic and viewing angles are good; perhaps more importantly, at 10.1in on the diagonal it makes for a very portable laptop.

The Hi10 Pro measures 261.8×167.3×8.5mm and weighs 562g, making it easy to slip into a bag and carry wherever you want. Adding the keyboard roughly doubles the weight, but it’s still an easily portable package.

This tablet-laptop hybrid is the Pro version of the older Chuwi Hi10. We haven’t reviewed that device, but from what we can understand this is a thinner version that swaps full-size USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports for a faster-charging and reversible USB-C port. Both tablets also feature Micro-USB and Micro-HDMI ports, though only the USB-C port will charge the Hi10 Pro (you’d be better off using this port for charging since it supports 3A even if you had the choice)

Best Tablets For Kids You Have To Know

Best kids tablets: buying guide

Age appropriate

The best tablet for your child will depend on their age. LeapFrog and VTech make tablets which are well suited to young children from around 3-6. When kids reach around 6 or 7, they no longer want what they see as a ‘toddler’s tablet’ and will start asking for something a bit more grown up.

They’ll no doubt already know what a ‘proper’ tablet should be like because they’ve borrowed your iPad or Android tablet. That’s one reason we’ve included the iPad mini 2 in this list: it’s a lot cheaper now than when it first launched, but it remains the most expensive option here. If an iPad becomes available as a hand-me-down, that’s great: your child will be over the moon even with an old one. The issue is that iPads don’t have great parental controls. They’re also quite fragile. But, they have the widest selection of apps and games, many of which are free. You can buy child-proof iPad cases, and disable Safari (to prevent web browsing) and restrict music, videos, apps and games to the appropriate age level, so they’re actually quite a good choice for kids.

Where’s the Tesco Hudl?

Aside from VTech and LeapFrog, there isn’t a massive amount of choice for kids’ tablets. Tesco discontinued the excellent Hudl 2, and since it’s almost impossible to find now, even on ebay, we’ve had to remove it from the list below. Samsung never made a successor to the Galaxy Tab 3 Kids, which is a shame as it was a good – if overpriced – kids’ tablet.

This leaves only Amazon, which sells a Kids Edition version of its £49 Fire tablet. It costs twice that price, but includes a foam case, a two-year warranty that covers accidental damage, plus a year’s subscription to Fire for Kids which gives them access to a fairly good range of apps, games, videos and books. Parental controls are also excellent.

Best kids tablets: How to choose

If you’re not going for one of the options we’ve already mentioned, you’ll have to go for a standard tablet (probably running Android) intended for adult use. Then you’ll have to lock it down (or not) to ensure they don’t see things in apps or online that you’d rather they didn’t.

The advantages of a specially designed kids’ tablet include a ‘safe’ web browser (or no internet access) and games and pre-loaded apps which are appropriate for kids. What they don’t tend to have is a wide choice of the latest games. The LeapPads, for example, are great tablets, but your kids might be frustrated when they can’t get the same games or apps their friends have on Android or iPad.

And that’s why we rate Amazon’s range of Fire tablets. These are fully fledged tablets with a great feature called Fire for Kids (even those which aren’t specifically the Kids Edition). You can set up password-protected profiles so you can give each child access to only the books, games and apps you want them to see. Plus, you can set different time limits for reading and playing. The fact that the range starts from just £49 is why we think the Amazon Fire is one of the best choices for kids right now.

Specifications

It’s best not to dwell too much on specs. They rarely tell you how good a kids’ tablet is. Two things you should consider are battery life and screen size. Many kids’ tablets last around half the time of an iPad – around five or six hours. They can, of course, use their tablet while it’s charging, but it’s worth avoiding any that don’t charge over USB as this makes it awkward to power them on long car journeys.

Younger kids might struggle with a 10in tablet, which is why the Amazon Fire is a good choice all round. Its 7in screen is just the right size for small hands.

Rather than looking at processor speeds and RAM, read our reviews to find out if a tablet is fast enough to keep up with your kids. Gigahertz ratings aren’t a helpful guide in this respect.

A third important aspect is storage. If the tablet you’re considering has no micro-SD card slot, you’ll have to start deleting apps, music, photos and more when the internal storage is full. It pays to get as much storage as you can, but it’s still important to have a microSD slot. Memory cards are cheap and even if a tablet doesn’t let you install apps on it, you can still use it for photos, videos and music.

ASUS ZenBook UX310UA Review Details

The Asus ZenBook UX310UA is what happens when a practical everyday laptop and an expensive all-aluminium Ultrabook fall in love. It gets you the pricey look and feel of a portable, stylish machine with the features of a workhorse and a price way below that of a rival MacBook.

We’ve seen a few laptops arrive with similar ideals, the Dell Inspiron 13 5000 being the most recent. This one is something special, though. It’s a laptop we can imagine recommending to many people over the next 12 months, and is even better than its ‘predecessor’ the ZenBook UX305 in several respects.

The Asus ZenBook UX310UA we’re reviewing costs £699 from Currys. It’s not cheap, but is also only about 60 per cent the price of a top-end laptop that, for many, won’t feel much faster to use day-to-day.

The exact specifications for the Asus ZenBook UX310UA vary depending on the country in which you buy the thing, but in the UK you get an Intel Core i5 CPU, a 128GB SSD, 500GB hard drive and 8GB RAM.

There’s also a cheaper version with an Intel Core i3 CPU, 1920×1080 screen and 4GB RAM that sells for £549 from John Lewis.

We’ve reviewed several laptops from the Asus ZenBook UX series over the past couple of years. The slightly disappointing UX360CA was the most recent, a good-looking but flawed convertible laptop.

The Asus ZenBook UX310UA is a return to the roots of the range. This is a normal laptop, without a touchscreen or a 360-degree hinge.

It’s also slightly chunkier than some of our favourite mid-price ZenBooks, because it fits in a hard drive as well as an SSD. However, it’s not thick and it’s not heavy. Its shape is simply a little less sharp and wedge-like than the MacBook 12-inch or the ZenBook UX305.

The Asus ZenBook UX310UA is 19mm thick and weighs 1.45kg, light enough to carry around with you all day, every day. It’s amazingly practical.

It’s a looker too. Like other 13-inch ZenBooks, the UX310UA has an all-aluminium frame that comes across as a more affordable Windows 10 take on what Apple has made with its slimmer MacBooks. The Asus flavour comes from the brushed concentric circles design on the lid, used across ZenBooks. There are plain silver and light gold shades to choose between. Both look great.