Conventional tablets may be going out of style, but that hasn't stopped Asus and Verizon from hooking up to launch a new slate for those who want an Android device bigger than a smartphone to use on the go with the carrier's 4G network.
The ZenPad Z8 is a Verizon exclusive that attempts to inject some life into the staid 7.9-inch tablet form factor. In particular, the carrier is calling the Z8 "a multimedia powerhouse" thanks to a Qualcomm Snapdragon 650 hexacore processor (also used in Xiaomi's Redmi Note 3 phablet), pair of front-facing speakers, and the Asus VisualMaster suite of image-enhancing technologies.
Those enhancements, which include Tru2Life technology for sharpness optimization and intelligent contrast adjustment, were touted when Asus rolled out the ZenPad Z300M and Z380M tablets last month. But whereas those ZenPads were saddled with a pedestrian 1,280x800 screen, the Z8 sports a higher-res 2,048x1,536 display. It offers an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera (along with a 2-megapixel front-facing webcam) as opposed to the 5-megapixel one in the Z300M and Z380M, though they all share Asus' PixelMaster tech to enhance photo quality.
The Z8 also includes 2GB of RAM and 16GB of built-in storage, and runs the latest version of Android, 6.0 Marshmallow. But perhaps most importantly, it comes with support for Verizon's 4G LTE network, which not only lets you connect to the Internet when a Wi-Fi network isn't available, but also allows for features such as making and receiving video calls from the Z8 when it's linked to a smartphone capable of HD Voice and video calling and using Verizon's Messages app. It's ready to handle Verizon's upgraded XLTE network, which has been rolling out across the country since launching in 2014.
Unlike some of Verizon's previous exclusive tablet offerings, which tended toward the lower end in features, the ZenPad Z8 retains a similar price tag with snazzier specs. It's available for pre-order on Verizon's site for $249.99 and will be in brick-and-mortar Verizon stores starting on June 23, It's also available for $149.99 with a two-year Verizon service agreement, or $10.41 per month for two years of payments.