ASUS has another winner for the masses. This time, it’s a smartphone with built-in digital TV tuner that does not utilise your precious mobile data. It is yours to own at just S$259.
The Zenfone Go TV (ZB551KL) looks and feels just like any Zenfone 2 series smartphones: power button at the top, volume buttons below the rear camera, dual SIM and micro SD cards underneath the rear casing, removable battery, good display quality. It is a tried and tested design that even though it appears dated, is practical. Plastic back covers are durable, easily replaceable hence no need for another case to protect it. I even buy multiple casings for my previous Zenfone 2 ZE551ML to swap around. The front Corning Gorilla Glass 3 does not require a screen protector, as my previous Zenfone smartphones can attest to that. But if you want to feel more assured, you can still get one easily since the glass surface is flat hence no need for special 2.5D fit.
Ultimately, the Zenfone 2 series are affordable mass-market devices, and ASUS focuses their cost on the internal hardware rather than premium materials for the exterior. Besides, most consumers would fit a casing over their smartphones, so it probably does not matter how premium the smartphone look and feel. The touch sensitivity is good and responsive, the overall phone runs butter smooth for a 1.4GHz quad core.
Built-in Digital TV
The most significant feature of Zenfone Go TV is the digital TV receiver. Months back I reviewed the AverTV Mobile 510 TV Tuner and I thought it was a very useful accessory. But the Zenfone Go TV beats that.
The pre-installed SoloTV is a nimble app that comes with the usual features like electronic program guide (EPG), live recording, subtitle and audio language selection, aspect ratio. It is easy to adjust volume and brightness by sliding your finger up and down the screen.
I like the ability to select TV programs to be reminded once the program starts. It however, does not support pre-programmed recording.
I also like that while displaying the current program, there is a coloured bar to indicate the length of the program since it started. A short bar indicates the program has just started, while the long bar means it is ending soon.
To improve signal reception, you need to plug wired headphones or a short 3.5mm antenna adapter if you want to play through the phone speaker. Reception quality varies depending on location, but as long as you are near a window, you should be able to receive signal.
With the Zenfone Go TV, it is possible to mirror the phone screen – including the TV content – to another display or projector wirelessly via ASUS PlayTo (MiraCast). It practically transforms any display into a television set.
No Data, No Congestion
ASUS claims you can watch TV on the Zenfone Go TV for up to 11 hours. It is probably possible if you watch in flight mode, and that is another great thing about a built-in TV tuner: you can watch local free-to-air channels without incurring data charges. Imagine watching popular live TV events like the Rio Olympic Games, National Day Parade or New Year countdown without experiencing data network congestion.
Even if you do not fancy local TV content, the award-winning Channel News Asia (CNA) should already be worth getting one for working executives, where you receive up-to-date news coverage of significant world events.
You can use the Zenfone Go TV on any country that broadcasts on DVB-T2/T2-Lite, DVB-T and full-segment ISDB-T broadcast protocols. Just run the channel scan and then enjoy.
The Zenfone Go TV runs on ZenUI, a multi-feature home launcher with so much customisation that it requires a separate post to talk about it. Thanks to the availability on Android Play store, I could install ZenUI on other smartphones whose launcher I do not fancy.
I love the ability to specify the grid layout from 4×5 up to 5×5. I can choose whether to display with app launcher (2-layer) or without (1-layer like iOS). I can install themes.
The apps, battery, memory, data management on Zenfone smartphones can be easily handled from ASUS Mobile Manager. I can specify which apps can use mobile data or WiFi only, which apps can auto-start in the background, which apps can push notification. Using ASUS Mobile Manager, I have better control over data and memory utilisation for each app.
A feature not available in many smartphones is Backup. With Zenfone smartphones, I can backup apps and data, and restore them either on the same device or another Zenfone device, after select the apps I want to restore. This feature is really useful for me to transfer configuration information from one device to another.
Zenfone smartphones also have built-in app lock feature, to provide an additional authentication for selected apps. The phone can also take a snapshot of the intruder’s face who tried and failed to access the apps.
The Zenfone Go TV’s 13MP f/2.0 camera quality is good given sufficient lighting, on par with other entry-level Zenfone models. The white balance is rather accurate, neither too cold nor too warm.
The dynamic level appears limited, darker areas lack details and bright areas tend to be overexposed, but when the scene is well-lit on average, the images look good. Like all other Zenfone models, there are over a dozen shooting modes to choose from.
Without the laser AF module, the focusing is slower and less accurate. Before hitting the shutter, tap on the screen to make sure the camera is focusing correctly.
The ASUS Zenfone Go TV is the first mainstream smartphone with built-in digital TV tuner. For just S$259, it has proven to be hugely popular with users who do not have the luxury of watching the huge TV at home, and allow them to enjoy free-to-air programs without any data charges. As a smartphone, the ZenUI offers so much customisation and phone management features that will help users to prevent battery drain and exceed data charges.
– Removable 3010mAh battery
– Snapdragon 400 Quad-core 1.4GHz
– 5.5-inch 1280×720
– 2GB RAM
– 16GM ROM
– MicroSD card up to 64GB
Official product website: https://www.asus.com/sg/Phone/ZenFone-Go-TV-ZB551KL/