One device in, one device out! After an accident with one of our Android tablets, the Beloved gave me a new mini tablet.

I’d wanted a device I could read and do light gaming on and, most important of all, hold in one hand. Lounging on the couch with a full-size iPad Air had not agreed with my pregnant belly. Small and one-handed. That was the goal.

So why the ZenPad? I had found a refurbished Acer at a discount store for about $80, but reviews on it mentioned an appalling battery life. The ZenPad was new in the box and could be had for $158 CAD (the U.S. price on Amazon is $99). The Beloved felt I would be happier with it and was willing to kick in for my birthday.


The ZenPad is a 7-inch tablet running Android 5.0 with 1GB memory and 16GB storage. More than sufficient for me.

One little quirk, however, is that the ZenPad comes with a custom launcher called ZenUI which you can’t remove or disable. This is a huge pet peeve of mine. I like to have the option for vanilla Android, and custom launchers and things like this can slow apps down and occupy system resources.

Now that I have things set up and running smoothly, the ZenPad has been glitch-free for the most part. Trouble did arise when I installed lots of stuff and did not close tabs when done. When I tried to return to the homescreen, I saw a ‘loading….’ message. I blame the ZenUI.

Battery life

This is one area where Apple really excels. My iDevices last much, much longer than any Android device I have owned. Five hours  is the claimed battery life for the ZenPad, and I know that given its small size, I can’t expect a giant battery. Five hours seems about right to me.

Since I’m not doing work on something this small, I can actually make the ZenPad last the whole day. I shouldn’t really be on it 24/7 anyway. So I eat breakfast with the iPad since I can stand it up on the table with the smart cover, and I do my RSS feeds and news reading then. I usually get in some work with the main computer if I’m home or the netbook if I’m out. I mostly use the ZenPad in the evenings to read and do some light gaming, and I’ve never hit bedtime with zero battery left. But I do find I am more mindful of battery status than I am with the iPad. I definitely budget my device time so I am not pushing this one too far.

Reading experience

Better than the Fire tablet, not as good as our bigger tablets—that about sums it up. Firstly, I have found Web browsing to be rather slow. I saved a few bookmarks as homescreen buttons to get around navigating on such a plodding little keyboard, and it’s serviceable but slow. I also found to my disappointment that the Facebook app would not install. A bit of Googling informed me that this was a known bug with this tablet, so I was disappointed about that. I’m on some Facebook groups now and it’s part of my ‘news reading’ rotation. I wish I had the app for it here. Feedly is fine though. That’s my other news-reading app, and it installed with no issues.

I had no problems installing the Kindle app, and I like the ‘real’ Android version much, much better than the hobbled one on the Fire tablet. It bothered me a lot that the Fire made you use a separate app to read your personal content. This is far better. I can access all my books, download them quickly and easily, sync my place, read—everything my iOS app can do. The only glitch was when I tried to load a larger book through Dropbox. The file size was too much for Send-to-Kindle, but I thought I could work around it that way. Unfortunately an error message said there was no app which could read that file type, and I couldn’t get Dropbox to send the book to my Kindle app. Oh well.


I’m happy with the ZenPad even if I have to plug it in every night—I accept its limitations. But there is a tool for every job, and what I needed here was small, light and easy. Mission accomplished.