Asus challenges iPad mini with $200 ZenPad 8 Android tablet

Want a small slate without a big price? The Asus ZenPad 8, now available, looks like a good value for the money.

After Asus made a name for itself with netbooks, notebooks and networking gear, the company is making a bigger push in mobile devices. In May, I took a look at the Asus ZenFone 2 and now you can buy a comparably equipped Asus ZenPad 8 tablet.

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The new slate has similar hardware components and software designs as the phone, which isn't a bad thing although Asus loaded up the handset with too much bloatware. The new tablet also matches up very well with Apple's iPad mini line of tablets but costs much less: Liliputing reports you can buy an Asus ZenPad 8 tablet for $199.99.

Liliputing's tip on the tablet's availability came from Mike Cane who already ran some benchmarks on the tablet which was announced last month. Cane says "Asus embarrassed the hell out of Samsung by producing a far better tablet than the Galaxy Tab A 8.0 for a lower price."

That's a great point considering what Asus packed inside the ZenPad 8: A quad-core Intel Atom Z3530 64-bit processor, 2 GB of memory, an 8-inch IPS touchscreen with 2048 x 1536 resolution -- the same as the iPad mini -- a 5 megapixel rear camera, expected 8 hour battery life, 32 GB of storage capacity and microSD card slot.

That's not just a solid value compared to the Samsung Galaxy Tab that Cane points out, but also compared to the iPad Mini and even the $399 Nexus 9 tablet.

Asus will also be offering upgraded models of the ZenPad 8 -- with better Atom processors, camera sensors, Active Pen support, more memory and storage capacity -- but the prices haven't yet been announced.

Since Android 5.0 ran quite well on the ZenFone 2, which uses a slightly faster Intel Atom processor, I'd expect reasonably good performance on the ZenPad 8. With a $200 price tag, even if it's not the fastest slate on the market, it's likely solid enough for all but the power-user crowd.