ASUS ZenPad 7.0: World’s 1st Tablet with Interchangeable Functional Cover

Models pose with ASUS ZenPad
Models pose with ASUS ZenPad
Models pose with ASUS ZenPad

ASUS ZenPad 7.0 (Z370CG) and ZenPad C 7.0 (Z170CG), ASUS brand new tablet series, were officially launched during ASUS Zensastion Roadshow in Mid Valley Megamall at the end of August 2015. The new 7-inch Android tablet has a new outlook design and customizable functionality with interchangeable covers (ZenPad 7.0).

ASUS ZenPad launch event at Mid Valley Megamall
ASUS ZenPad launch event at Mid Valley Megamall

The beauty of new design is the embossed-leather patterning back cover, which is influenced by fashion accessories such as clutch bags and wallets, giving the tablet a luxury feel.

The front is a 7-inch display with thick top and bottom bezel, surrounded by a metallic frame. ZenPad C 7.0 has a similar design, except that the back cover is not interchangeable.

All aspects of the tablet’s display — including contrast, sharpness, colour, clarity, and brightness — are optimized by
ASUS VisualMaster, a suite of visual enhancement technologies that combine hardware and software, including ASUS Tru2Life and ASUS TruVivid.

ASUS ZenPad is also the world’s first tablet to integrate DTS-HD Premium Sound. It provides high-fidelity sound from multimedia content with DTS-HD encoding and transforms stereo audio into virtual surround sound. You will also get full 360-degree surround sound when listening with headphones. ASUS SonicMaster will enhance other non-DTS-HD encoded audios.

ZenPad 7.0

ASUS ZenPad 7.0
ASUS ZenPad 7.0

ZenPad 7.0 is powered by a 64-bit quad-core Intel Atom processor, 2GB RAM and 16GB storage (supports microSD memory card up to 128GB). It runs Android 5.0 Lollipop and ASUS ZenUI.

The display is 7-inch WXGA (1280×800) IPS panel with Corning Gorilla Glass1. Its 8MP rear-facing and 2MP front-facing cameras are powered by ASUS’s PixelMAster technology to capture better-looking photos, videos and selfies.

ASUS ZenPad 7.0
ASUS ZenPad 7.0

It supports mobile network (no 4G) with a micro SIM. The 13Wh Li-polymer battery provides up to 8 hours battery life. The dimension is 189 x 110.9 x 8.7mm, Weight is 272 gram.

The interchangeable cover design allows you to easily customise the tablet with functional back covers for additional features and colour options. (Read ZenPad 7.0 accessories later)

ZenPad 7.0 specs and price
ZenPad 7.0 specs and price

ZenPad 7.0 C Dual SIM

ASUS ZenPad C 7 (Red)
ASUS ZenPad C 7 (Red)

On the other hand, ASUS ZenPad C 7.0 is the junior using the same Intel Atom 64-bit Quad-Core CPU, but 1GB RAM and 8GB storage (support microSD card up to 64GB). Its 7-inch IPS panel display’s screen resolution is 1024×600 pixels. The front and rear cameras are 0.3MP and 5MP respectively. ZenPad 7.0 C is dual-SIM phablet supporting 2G/3G networks.

ASUS ZenPad C 7.0 dual SIM and microSD slots
ASUS ZenPad C 7.0 dual SIM and microSD slots

ASUS ZenPad 7.0 (Z370CG) price in Malaysia is RM 749 (free one extra Zen Case). ZenPad C 7.0 price is RM 529. Both are now available for sale at ASUS Store Online.

The following table compares ZenPad 7.0 (Z370CG) and ZenPad C 7.0 (Z170CG): (click to enlarge)

Compare ZenPad 7 vs ZenPad C 7.0
Compare ZenPad 7 vs ZenPad C 7.0

ZenPad 7.0 accessories

ASUS ZenPad is the world’s first tablet to feature an interchangeable cover design that lets you easily customize the tablet with functional back covers.

Audio Cover (RM 249)

ZenPad Audio Cover
ZenPad Audio Cover

Audio Covers brings 5.1-channel surround sound to ZenPad. It includes four satellite speakers, one center channel speaker, and one subwoofer to provides surround-sound experience when watching videos or listening to music. Audio Cover sound output is 6x louder volume than the tablet alone.

ZenPad Audio Cover
ZenPad Audio Cover

It last up to 6 hours of continuous usage on a single charge. Audio Cover also double as a stand for conveniently watching videos or getting some work done.

Power Case (RM 109)

Power Case
Power Case

Power Case extends ZenPad’s battery life up to 15 hours of usage, long enough for your whole day usage or longest international flights.

Power Case
Power Case

It is compact and seamlessly attaches to ZenPad, giving you power on the go without the need to carry portable batteries and extra cables.

Zen Clutch (RM 119)

Zen Clutch
Zen Clutch

Zen Clutch is a fashionable protection case features a leather finish and is available in black and white colours. Its folding design also serves as a stand for typing or watching videos.

Zen Clutch
Zen Clutch

Zen Case

Zen Case
Zen Case

Zen Case is another stylish accessory featuring fine leather texture that allows you to outfit ZenPad in 5 colours: Obsidian Black, Pearl White, Aqua Blue, Vibrant Orange, and Aurora Metallic.

For more information, please visit www.asus.com/my

All prices mentioned are inclusive 6% GST.

Surface 3 with Type Cover Review: Can the Bundle Replace Your Laptop?

Surface 3 with Type Cover
Surface 3 with Type Cover
Surface 3 with Type Cover

Microsoft Surface 3 is a Windows 8 (or Windows 10) tablet. You can use it in tablet mode or desktop mode with a Type Cover.

Microsoft claims that it can replace your laptop. Is it true?

I had an opportunity to use a Surface 3 and Type Cover for a few weeks. Read on for my review to find out more.

Disclosure: I do not use Windows 8 in tablet mode at all. I set it to login directly into desktop mode.

Surface 3 Design

Surface 3 is not the thinnest tablet but it has a good build. It is lightweight at only 622 gram. Simply drop it in your bag and you are Windows productivity ready on the go.

It has 1x full-size USB 3.0 port, 1x mini DisplayPort and a microSD memory card slot hidden under the kickstand. It is equipped with 3.5MP front camera and 8MP rear camera. The power button and volume rocker are on the same side.

You charge Surface 3 via a microUSB port — yes, the same charging port found on other non-Apple smartphones.

Tip: With optional accessory, you can turn the microUSB port into a full-size USB port, too.

Surface 3 ports
Surface 3 ports

Single USB port means you may need a USB hub to connect to computer accessories. The upper position of USB port in laptop mode make your USB hub hanging in the air. It is ugly.

I would suggest Microsoft to replace the microSD memory card reader with a standard SD memory card reader. I would rather have an SD card reader to conveniently import my camera’s photos for editing and upload.

Surface 3 microSD card slot
Surface 3 microSD card slot

It is not a smartphone, you do not add a microSD memory card to expands the storage space. 128GB is enough for most users, and we have portable external storage.

The kickstand with shining Microsoft logo can adjust to 3 angles. I find it limited. I have to adjust myself to find a better viewing angle.

The thin kickstand can hold the tablet firmly on a flat surface. No bouncing nor shaking when you tap on its touchscreen. But Surface 3 is standing less stable — because the small surface of the kickstand and tablet body — when you place it on a non-flat surface, such as your laps.

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Performance

Surface 3 a Windows 8 tablet computer (Windows 10 ready), it runs all your Windows desktop software — A great improvement from previous Surface RT which runs only Windows Store apps.

The main advantages of using Surface 3 is its portability. It is smaller and lighter than Ultrabook laptop, yet it has the power to run your Windows software.

Surface 3
Surface 3 running Windows 8

The Windows tablet is powered by Intel Atom x7-z8700 @ 1.6GHz processor with 2GB/4GB RAM and 64GB/128GB SSD storage.

Intel Atom is not a powerful processor but it can handle most computing tasks, such as running office suite, web surfing, playing videos and music, simple graphic editing.

The 10.8-inch FullHD (1920×1280) display is so bright that I have to set the 3rd lowest level to type this article.

You will need to wear a pair of sunglasses at its highest brightness level. The bright display may be useful to show screen content under direct sunlight.

For a tablet, Surface 3’s stereo speakers with Dolby audio have clear and loud audio output. The battery last around 6 to 8 hours for my moderate usage: web surfing and streaming online music.

Surface 3 does not come with useless pre-installed 3rd party software (bloatware). What you get is a tablet with clean, pure Windows installation. The 128GB model has 100GB usable disk space out of the box.

It also comes with free 1-year Microsoft Office 365, which you can online download and activate.

Surface 3 Type Cover

Surface 3
Surface 3

Surface 3 is not complete without the Surface 3 Type Cover, and it will cost you additional RM479. Surface 3 and Type Cover should be sold as a bundle, instead of additional purchase.

Recently, Microsoft (finally) make a Surface 3 and Type Cover bundle with 10% discount.

Type Cover does 2 things: 1. Protect your Surface 3 and 2. Adds a physical keyboard to Surface 3. It does not expand any Surface 3’s input/output ports.

Surface 3
Surface 3 Type Cover

The Type Cover feels flimsy with a smooth leather-like surface, which adds grip and avoid fingerprints and smudge.

Surface 3 Type Cover attach magnetically to Surface 3 and draw power via metal pins. It is strong and does not detach easily.

I like the row of function keys. The keyboard is backlit and you can adjust the brightness level using function keys. Neat!

Volume control is not found on Type Cover keyboard. Microsoft wants you to use the volume rocker on the tablet.

Surface 3
Surface 3 Type Cover

Surface 3 Type Cover has a small trackpad to keep your palm on the keyboard, do not need to raise up your hand to touch the screen. Web page scrolling is a bit lagging using the trackpad.

The trackpad is usable, but I wish it is bigger. Am I asking too much, considering the small size of Type Cover?

The Surface 3 Type Cover’s magnetic flap folds up and snaps to the front of the tablet to raises the keyboard for comfortable typing angle, but it will  slightly blocking finger access to windows taskbar at the bottom. Not a problem if you use a mouse or trackpad, though.

The keyboard keys’ travel distance is shallow, the key size is near to full-size keyboard. It is comfortable to type and definitely better than virtual touch keyboard.

Conclusion

Surface 3
Surface 3 with Type Cover in tablet mode

In a nutshell, I like Surface 3 because it is a lightweight, no bloatware, and stable Windows tablet.

Surface 3 is a Microsoft hardware. Logically, it will highly supported by Microsoft Windows operating system and drivers. Thus, fewer problems and more stable than the other OEM computers.

This is the confidence you get when you are buying a Microsoft Surface device.

I would recommend it anyone who need a portable Windows computer for office work. Just make sure you buy the Surface 3 Type Cover, too. It is a must-have.

The only deal breaker would be the Surface 3 price. It is RM1,989 (64GB) or RM2,389 (128GB), plus RM479 for Surface 3 Type Cover.

The total cost of the Surface 3 bundle can buy you a lightweight and more powerful ultrabook computer.

Photo Gallery: Surface 3 and Type Cover

JOI KinderTab, the Malaysia Pre-school Education Tablet

The Intel Atom-powered JOI KinderTab
The Intel Atom-powered JOI KinderTab
The Intel Atom-powered JOI KinderTab

Parents with pre-school kids know this well–kids are the shared user of our tablet. It is a magical device to keep your children sitting still and quiet. But, also the No.1 reason your tablet get destroyed. Ouch!

How about a dedicated child-friendly tablet for your young one? JOI KinderTab is an Android tablet in a rugged package with educational apps build for pre-school learning.

Brought to you by Intel Malaysia, SNS Network and Myteach, JOI KinderTab is 7-inch (1024×600 pixels) Android 4.4 tablet, powered by Intel Atom processor (Z3735G), 1GB RAM, 16GB storage (expandable to 32GB), VGA front camera, 2MP back camera and built-in 2600 mAh battery. Not a powerful machine but should be enough to satisfy your kids.

The tablet comes with a Bumpee casing & stylus. The casing protects your KinderTab from drops and bumps. It has handles at the side for your kids easily carrying it around and a stand at the back for reading, watching videos and doing activities.

JOI Kinder is building for pre-school learning with pre-loaded educational apps, including contents based on the National Preschool Curriculum (Kurikulum Standard Prasekolah Kebangsaan). The contents cover English and Science subjects. Bahasa Malaysia, Mathematics and Chinese will be coming soon.

The child-friendly tablet built-in parental control to limit your kid’s access and parents can decide which apps to be accessible by your kid. Parents can track your kid’s learning progress via an app, too.

You can switch JOI Kinder Tab to normal Android mode, in case you “borrow” the tablet from your kid.

JOI Kinder Tab price is RM529 (inclusive GST), available at AEON departmental store and buy online at Gloo.com.my, Lazada.com.my, Lelong.com.my, and Myteach360.com

Hands-on: Acer Aspire Switch 10 E 2-in-1 Laptop in Malaysia

ACER Aspire Switch 10 E
ACER Aspire Switch 10 E
ACER Aspire Switch 10 E

Aspire Switch 10 E, Acer’s latest 2-in–1 laptop, was launched in Malaysia on 28 April 2015. The launch was held at Acer’s latest concept store at Quill City Mall, Kuala Lumpur.

The second generation Acer 2-in–1 laptop won the Red Dot design award and features Acer Snap Hinge 2 with a guiding plane design. It works in 4 different modes: laptop, tablet, display and tent.

Acer Aspire Switch 10 E modes
Acer Aspire Switch 10 E modes

I tested the Acer Snap Hinge 2 and it works well, easy to attach and detach. Once attached, it holds the pad and keyboard dock firmly together and does not fall off.

Aspire Switch 10 E features textile pattern on the top cover and underside to prevent scratches, fingerprints and provides better grip.

The 2-in–1 is powered by Intel Atom Z3735F quad-core processor and 2GB DDL3L RAM. It runs full version Windows 8.1 and free upgrade to Windows 10 when it is ready. Also, you get free Microsoft Office 365 Home & Students license with every Aspire Switch 10 E.

ACER Aspire Switch 10 E
ACER Aspire Switch 10 E

Comparing to 1st generation Acer Aspire Switch 10’s 1366 x 768 pixel display, Aspire Switch 10 E display has a lower resolution at 1280 x 800 pixels. Maybe it is an ideal resolution for the 10.1-inch display?

New Aspire Switch 10 E has dual 2M camera on the rear and front, supporting 720p HD video recording. It is an upgrade from the single front camera of last year Aspire Switch 10.

 

For connectivity, the tablet part of Aspire Switch 10 E has a microUSD memory card reader, headphone/speaker jack, micro HDMI port, a micro USD 2.0 port. The dock has a normal size USB 2.0 port.

Aspire Switch 10 E has two configurations in Malaysia: SW5–013 with 32GB eMMC + 500GB hard drive and SW5–013 with 64GB eMMC.

The 32GB eMMC + 500GB configuration has Acer SwitchLock build-in hard drive protection to safeguard your data when the keyboard dock is lost or stolen. Data in the hard drive is not accessible without the tablet.

Aspire Switch 10 E has Blue Light Shield to reduce the blue-light emission to protect your eyes. Switch to “Long Hour Mode” for less strain on your eyes and maximizing12 hours battery life.

ACER Aspire Switch 10 E side view
ACER Aspire Switch 10 E side view

The tablet weight 630 gram only but attaching keyboard dock will double its weight to 1.28KG for the dock with hard drive and 1.20KG for dock only. Acer Aspire Switch 10 E is still bulky when docked, especially when you view it from the side.

Acer Aspire Switch 10 E price in Malaysia is RM1,399 (32GB eMMC + 500GB) and RM1,099 (64GB eMMc). It is available in 5 colours: Moonstone While, Shark Grey, Peacock Blue, Magenta Pink and Coral Red.

Photo gallery: Acer Aspire Switch 10 E

Acer Concept Store @ Quill City Mall

Acer Concept Store at Quill City Mall, Kuala Lumpur
Acer Concept Store at Quill City Mall, Kuala Lumpur

The 1,195 square feet Acer Concept Store is managed by Brightstar. Acer will have new concept stores at Mid Valley Megamall and the Mines.

Acer is aiming to open more concept stores and to uplift existing stores for better customer experience. Currently, Acer has 16 service centres nationwide via Highpoint Service Network Sdn Bhd.

Acer is No. 1 brand for both PCs and laptops in Malaysia. The total PC shipment in Malaysia for 2014 was 414,841 units or 18.51% market share, total shipment for laptops was 319,375 units or 26.1%. (IDC Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker, February 2015).

Visit Acer Malaysia Facebook or call Acer Product Infoline at 1800–88–1288.

Zenfone 2: 12 Great Features You Need to Know

ASUS ZenFone 2 and model
ASUS ZenFone 2 and model
ASUS ZenFone 2 and model

ASUS ZenFone 2 is the 2015 flagship Android smartphone of the company. It comes with many new and useful features that you want to know about. Read on to learn more.

Tell us which is your favourite ZenFone 2 feature in the comment.

(Note: “ZenFone 2” here is referring to ZE551ML variant with 4GB RAM.)

World’s first 4GB RAM smartphone

ASUS ZenFone 2 is the world’s first 4GB RAM smartphone while other more expensive Android flagship smartphones have 2GB or 3GB RAM.

Plenty of available RAM means that you do not need to worry about phone’s memory usage. The system does not need to kill apps to allocate free memory for new running apps. You do not need to remove background apps to make your phone runs faster.

The result is better multitasking and faster app switching.

Powerful 64-bit Intel Atom processor

ZenFone 2 is powered by Intel Atom Z3580 processor. It is a 64-bit Quad-core processor with 2.3GHz speed and supports up to 4GB DDR3 RAM with Dual 32-bit channel. ZenFone 2’s PowerVR 6430 graphic processing unit (GPU) supports OpenGL 3.0 and up to 7x faster than ZenFone 5.

The result? You get up to 3x better performance and 7x faster gaming experiences than its predecessor.

PixelMaster Camera 2.0

ASUS ZenFone 2 camera and rear key
ASUS ZenFone 2 camera and rear key

PixelMaster Camera 2.0 is a combination of the ASUS-developed imaging system and camera hardware to deliver high-quality photos. ZenFone 2 has 13MP rear camera with F/2.0 aperture and dual-color LED flash, 5MP front camera with 80-degree wide-angle lens.

PixelMaster Low-Light mode allows the camera captures 400% brighter photo and video in low-light conditions.

PixelMaster Backlight (HDR) mode able to capture clear photos of backlight objects by automatically merging multi-shots with different exposures with ASUS Pixel Enhancing Technology.

5.5-inch Full HD display

ASUS ZenFone 2
ASUS ZenFone 2

ZenFone 2 is 5.5-inch Super Bright IPS Full HD (1920×1080 pixels) display with 403 pixel per inch (PPI). Thanks to the high 72% screen to body ratio, the 5.5-inch display fits into the body of a traditional 5-inch device.

The IPS panel reaches the 72% of the NTSC allows you to see more precise colors. The 400 nits brightness display allows you to read the screen under sunlight outdoor.

250Mbps 4G LTE-A with Carrier Aggregation

ASUS ZenFone 2 is one of the few smartphones in the market that support latest 4G LTE-A (LTE-Advanced) to offer high download speed up to 250Mbps.

Carrier Aggregation allows your phone to use more than one carrier to increase transmission bandwidth. Watch the cute video by Qualcomm below to understand Carrier Aggregation:

Currently, up to 32 countries are supporting Carrier Aggregation and more in future. Hopefully, it will come to Malaysia soon.

Supports 5 satellite navigation systems

ZenFone 2 supports 5 satellite navigation system with up to more than 60 satellites to pinpoint your position. According to ASUS, it works wherever you go, even you are under a bridge, or in the middle of skyscrapers.

The 5 supported satellite navigation systems are:

  1. Global Positioning System (GPS): Global coverage. Owned by United States.
  2. GLObal NAvigation Satellite System (GLONASS): Global coverage. Owned by Russian.
  3. BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS): Regional coverage, expanding to global coverage by 2020. Owned by China.
  4. Quasi-Zenith Satellite System (QZSS): Regional coverage with limited accuracy, viewed as GNSS augmentation service. Owned by Japan.
  5. Satellite-based augmentation system (SBAS): “a system that supports wide-area or regional augmentation through the use of additional satellite-broadcast messages”

Rear key

ASUS ZenFone 2
ASUS ZenFone 2

ZenFone 2’s volume buttons have been moved to the back as a “rear key”. The concentric-circle design key is part of the phone’s ergonomic design, now you feel more natural to adjust the volume level and snap selfies by pressing the rear key, regardless you are left-handed or right-handed.

Fast Touch Response Time

ZenFone 2 has one of the quickest touch response time of only 60ms. Most smartphones have response time over 70ms. A shorter response time gives you no lag feeling when you tap or drag on the screen, as well as more smoothness gameplay.

Dual SIM Dual Active

You can use two SIM in ZenFone 2. It is not Dual SIM Dual Standby, but Dual SIM Dual Active (DSDA). Dual SIM Dual Active is enabled by the dual transceiver, one for each SIM. Both SIMs are active at all the time. SIM1

ASUS ZenFone 2 supports Dual SIM Dual Active
ASUS ZenFone 2 supports Dual SIM Dual Active

For example, when you are calling a friend from SIM1, you can still receive messages or calls from SIM2 during the SIM1 call. You can hold a current SIM1 call and answer the SIM2 call.

In short, you can always receive calls from both SIMs and say bye-bye to miss an incoming call.

ZenUI Instant Update

ZenUI, the ASUS customized Android user interface, for ZenFone 2 has Instant Updates feature to always keep the system updated. ASUS made ZenUI into 30+ apps that can updated separately via Google Play Store. As a result, you do not need to wait for months for a big system update. Your ZenUI apps are always updated.

Privacy and Security

SnapView is your private space in ZenFone 2 to store personal photos, files and apps. You can easily switching in and out SnapView by unlocking the phone using different password/pin/pattern.

ASUS ZenFone 2 ZenUI Kids Mode
ASUS ZenFone 2 ZenUI Kids Mode

ZenUI Kids Mode allows you to manage apps, content and play time for children to play with your ZenFone 2.

Trend Micro Dr. Safety app is pre-loaded in ZenFone 2 to protect you against malicious websites, online threats and privacy risks.

Quick charge technology

ZenFone 2 non-removable 3000mAh Li-Polymer battery with BoostMaster quick charge technology. It can charge up to 60% in 39 minutes. After charged more than 60%, the system will slow down to maintain low temperature.