Amazon has just announced their new 8-inch Fire HD 8 tablet which means a showdown between the ZenPad 8.0 is in order.
Asus has positioned the ZenPad 8 (Z380C and Z380CX) for the cheaper spectrum of the Android tablet market. As we’ve pointed out previously, the price at $129 for the Z380CX is pretty much top of the class. With Amazon typically pricing their tablets aggressively (low) it will be interesting to see how this comparison turns out.
We need to compare apples to apples and not oranges to apples. In this comparison, the ZenPad 8.0 comes with 16GB of storage whereas the Fire HD 8 comes with either 8GB or 16GB. To be fair, we need to look at 16GB vs. 16GB.
- ZenPad 8.0 (Z380CX) – $129.00 for 16GB storage
- Fire HD 8 (2015) – $169 for 16GB storage with sponsored screensavers (ads)
- Fire HD 8 (2015) – $184.99 for 16GB storage without sponsored screensavers (ads)
Comment: It’s safe to say that the price comparison is lopsided. When you’re looking at the Fire HD 8 (2015) at $184.99, you’re getting into the ZenPad S 8.0 range. Considering the premium spec and display on the ZenPad S 8.0 (Z580C), it puts these prices into realistic terms. In fact when you consider the 32GB storage on the Z580C, it’s almost a more fair comparison with the non sponsored ads version of the Fire HD 8 (2015). We should mention again that the Fire HD 8 is available in 8GB storage which of course lowers the price. However, if you need more storage, you’re spending about $15 minimum for a microSD card (16GB).
- ZenPad 8.0 (Z380CX) – 2GB
- Fire HD 8 (2015) – 1GB
- ZenPad 8.0 (Z380CX) – 1.2 GHz Intel Atom x3-C3200 (Quad Core, 64-Bit)
- Fire HD 8 (2015) – MediaTek Quad-Core: 2 @ 1.5 GHz + 2 @ 1.2 GHz
Comment: We aren’t going to get into benchmark tests on these two processors. MediaTek is a lower class processor and that is just the reality. Asus does utilize MediaTek processors, however those are for only the super low end tablets that they release. Call this a draw if you like, but if I’m shopping, I put more value on an Intel Atom processor vs. a MediaTek processor.
- ZenPad 8.0 (Z380CX) – 1280 x 800
- Fire HD 8 (2015) – 1280 x 800
Size and Weight
- ZenPad 8.0 (Z380CX)
- weight: 12.35 oz / 350 g
- size: 8.2 x 4.8 x 0.3″ / 209.0 x 123.0 x 8.5 mm
- Fire HD 8 (2015)
- weight: 11.0 oz / 311 g
- size: 8.4 x 5.0 x 0.3″ / 214 x 128 x 7.7mm
Comment: The Fire HD 8 beats the ZenPad 8.0 (Z380CX) in both weight and size. Thinner and lighter comparison is a loss for the ZenPad 8.0 but in terms of overall size, the ZenPad 8.0 has slightly less bezel, and less bezel is better according to pretty much any tech reviewer. It would make sense that for Asus to enable the customizable/removable back plates they would have to sacrifice some size (thinness) and weight.
- ZenPad 8.0 (Z380CX) – no 802.11ac
- Fire HD 8 (2015) – has 802.11ac
Comment: Having the newest “ac” wifi standard is a good benefit to have, no question about that. Whether this benefits you? It depends on your primary usage area and if your router/modem has the “ac” standard or not. Future proofing is nice, however the low price point means that updating with a new tablet in a year or two may come before you can enjoy the full benefits of “ac”. Certainly if you’re spending more for a premium tablet, we would not recommend a tablet without “ac”, but more budget friendly tablets are a slightly different discussion. Fire HD 8 is the winner in wifi.
- ZenPad 8.0 (Z380CX) – single front facing speaker
- Amazon Fire HD 8 (2015) – dual stereo speakers
Comment: Having dual stereo speakers trumps a mono speaker. There really is no way around that. However, a couple things to consider. First, the Amazon Fire HD 8 has the speakers on the side and front facing is the best. Secondly, the ZenPad 8.0 is compatible with the Audio Cover which gets you 5.1 speaker setup in a case, including a subwoofer. However, an external speaker setup can be connected to either of these tablets. We simply can’t choose a clear cut winner without hearing the speakers on both devices, although 2 speakers trumps a single speaker don’t you think? Let us know what you think in the comment section below.
- ZenPad 8.0 (Z380CX) – Front: 0.3 MP, Rear: 2.0 MP
- Amazon Fire HD 8 (2015) – Front: 720p HD, Rear: 5 MP
Comment: Clearly Asus decided with the Z380CX to reduce the quality of the cameras in order to provide 2GB of RAM. The Z380C model has cameras more equal to the Amazon Fire HD 8 (2015). The camera comparison is no contest and the Fire HD 8 is a clear winner in terms of cameras vs. the ZenPad Z380CX. When looking at these specs, you have to decide how important cameras are vs. more RAM in the Z380CX.
Unique Features or Selling Points
- ZenPad 8.0 (Z380CX)
- Customizable back plates or “Interchangeable Design” allowing for unique cases like the Power Case, Audio Cover, or Zen Covers.
- Full access to Google Play app store
- Android Lollipop 5.0
- 5GB life time Asus Webstorage space
- 100GB of Google Drive space for 2 years
- Fire HD 8 (2015) – 1280 x 800
- Fire OS 5 “Bellini”
- Free unlimited cloud storage for all Amazon content and photos taken with Fire devices.
- Option for a cheaper 8GB model
- Option for a cheaper model which uses sponsored screensavers
- microSD allows for 128GB more storage (Z380CX allows for an additional 64GB)
Summary and Conclusions
A key component to a purchasing decision revolves around price in most instances. Comparing the Z380CX to the new Fire HD 8 (2015) shows that Asus really wins the price comparison. It’s quite drastic really. Yes, you can get a 8GB storage on the Fire HD 8 and that will make the prices a bit more close, but then we’re talking about the need to spend another $15 on a microSD card. When you take this comparison to the $199 ZenPad S 8.0 (Z580C) you realize that at $184.99 for the 16GB Amazon Fire HD 8 (2015) with no ads is priced awfully close. In other words, If you’re looking at spending $184.99, perhaps bumping up into the $199 Z580C starts making some sense. However in this article, we talking about the Z380CX and with putting an emphasis on price, it’s the winner. Even if you consider the Z380C which has 1GB of RAM like the Fire HD 8 and has equal cameras, it’s listed on Amazon.com at $131.99. It’s basically the same price as the Z380CX when listed with a sale price. Any way you slice it, Asus really can’t be beat in terms of value to price.
So if you’re paying more for the Fire HD 8, what’s better? You’re getting better cameras, “ac” wifi, dual stereo speakers (albeit side mounted) and a thinner/lighter tablet. There isn’t anything dramatic in the specs comparison, although cameras is a biggie and the “ac” wifi is significant provided you have equipment to support that new wifi standard. The better camera spec is debatable because you’re going to benefit more from 2GB or RAM like the Z380CX has vs. how often you will benefit from better cameras. With a 5MP rear on the Fire HD 8, it’s still not going to provide excellent photo quality. The front camera on the Amazon Fire HD 8 is a bit more useful in terms of video calling.
However there are some pretty major drawbacks to the Amazon tablet. You don’t get access to the Google Play app store, but instead you get the Amazon app store. It’s still great, but it’s not the same as Google Play. The Fire HD 8 runs Amazon’s own operating system whereas the ZenPad Z380CX is running the new Android Lollipop, albeit with the Asus ZenUi running over top of Lollipop. There are a lot more resources online for the official Android OS and more options with apps.