Good stylus integration can turn a typical tablet into a handy digital notebook for business users. But the selection of portable, pen-equipped slates is still pretty sparse.
That's why Asus' new ZenPad S 8.0 (perhaps the "S" is for "stylus"?) caught our eye. The 8-inch tablet is set to launch this year alongside the standard ZenPad 8.0, which features lesser specs and no pen support.
The pen isn't actually included with the ZenPad S 8.0 out of the box; as with other pen-enabled Asus tablets like the TransformerBook T300 Chi, it will be sold separately. But the important thing is that the tablet comes with a pen digitizer built into the display, which gives the screen pressure sensitivity. In other words, it can detect how hard you're pressing down, so you can vary the width and weight of your strokes – just like a real pen.
Asus says the ZenPad S 8.0 can detect up to 1,024 levels of pen pressure. I suspect that it uses the same Wacom digitizer as other pen-enabled Asus tablets, which is the best stylus technology on the market. Standard capacitive styluses – the kind you'd buy for an iPad – can't detect pressure at all, and really aren't suitable for serious note-taking. The pen tech could make the ZenPad S 8.0 one of our top picks for users who want to take notes and draw diagrams right on their tablet's screen.
Stylus aside, the ZenPad S 8.0 is a pretty nice Android tablet. It's powered by a speedy 2.3-GHz Intel Atom Z3580 processor with 4GB of RAM and up to 64GB of internal storage. You also get a really sharp, colorful, 2K IPS display, which offers wide viewing angles and enough resolution to make split-screen multitasking comfortable, even on an 8-inch screen.
It's also one of the more portable slates in its category, weighing a scant 0.65 lbs. and measuring just 0.27 inches thick. Specific pricing and availability details for the ZenPad Z 8.0 haven't been announced yet, but check back for more information on the slate as it comes.