- Nicely tweaked Android interface
- Iffy camera results
We review the Asus MeMO Pad 7, a new value 7-inch Android KitKat tablet.
That’s right kiddies. Asus, the genius behind the Google Nexus 7, is back with a brand new affordable 7-inch Android tablet, the MeMO Pad 7 (2014 edition). But what does it do to set itself apart from the budget tablet crowd, and can it beat off competition from the likes of the Tesco Hudl?
Asus MeMO Pad 7 design: A good one-hander
The Asus MeMO Pad 7 doesn’t look too dissimilar to the Google Nexus 7 tablet, another seven-incher that Asus designed, but there are a fair few differences.
Both screens have the same dimensions, but the MeMO Pad doesn’t have the same ‘stretched’ appearance as the Nexus. Flip it over and you’ll find a plastic shell, which doesn’t feel quite as nice as the strokeably soft Nexus 7 rear, but this tablet does at least come in a variety of happy colours (white, black, blue, red and yellow). The Nexus 7 is only available in bog-standard boring old black.
At 295g the MeMO Pad is comfortable to clutch with one hand, even for annoyingly lengthy journeys. The screen does flex under pressure, which distorts the image, but otherwise the tablet feels rugged enough to be chucked into a bag and knocked around a bit.
Asus MeMO Pad 7 media: No HD here
The MeMO Pad’s 7-inch IPS screen packs a respectable 1280 x 800 resolution (216ppi), although rivals such as the Tesco Hudl enjoy sharper images, making them better suited to HD movies. We’re hoping an HD version comes out soon, as it did with last year’s MeMO Pad HD7. The Hudl and Nexus 7 also produced more vibrant colours, and the Nexus 7’s panel is noticeably brighter, for cancelling out annoying glare.
However, the MeMO Pad’s display enjoys crisp, clean whites, boasts very wide viewing angles, and is perfectly fine for your standard tablet shenanigans.
The built-in speaker does a decent job if you’re watching movies, with enough power for a comfortable viewing experience, although as usual when the speaker is rear-mounted, you lose a little oomph as the thing is pointing away from you.
10.5GB of the 16GB of storage was available for our media collection, and you get a microSD memory card slot to expand, so you’ll have no trouble carrying dozens of movies and your entire song collection on your travels.
Asus MeMO Pad 7 OS: A different flavour of KitKat
Android KitKat has been fondled and fiddled with, and Asus’ additions add some neat little tweaks without rendering Android unrecognisable. Aside from some graphical touches, you get a new quick settings menu, while the apps menu gives you quick access to your most frequently opened apps.
The lock screen has been glossed up too, and can be populated with widgets that tell you important info like your next appointment, and give you instant access to apps such as your browser and mail. Overall, we like the look Asus has gone with, even if none of the features are particularly exciting or unique.
Asus MeMO Pad 7 performance and battery life: Atom power
The MeMO Pad 7 packs in a 64-bit Intel Atom processor (the quad-core Z3745 if you must know), and for the most part it handles tablety stuff well. Occasionally there’s a delay when you hit the power button before the lock screen flashes up, or when you tap an app to load it, but we saw very few stumbles while apps were actually running.
As for battery life, it’s nothing spectacular, but we managed an average five hours of video streaming on full brightness, so you’ve got enough juice to last a hefty train ride from one end of the country to the next.
Asus MeMO Pad 7 camera: Beauty-ful
You get a 5-megapixel camera on the back of the MeMO Tab 7 and a 0.3-megapixel selfie snapper, and we’re impressed by how many random features Asus has thrown into its camera app. As well as your standard manual controls, you get face detection, timers, and touch exposure as well as manual focus. Hold down the shutter button and the tablet keeps taking photos (around four per second) up to a maximum of 100 shots.
The terrifying results when you max the ‘beauty’ settings. Not even a blind mother could love that face.
Dive into the different modes and there’s lots of extras too. If you want a sharper selfie, there’s a dedicated mode using the rear camera which activates automatically when it detects a pre-set number of faces. The Time Rewind feature is great for capturing a tricky action shot, the funky GIF mode does what you’d expect, and you can even remove photo bombers a la Samsung Galaxy phones.
Photo quality was a little mixed, with the lens struggling in strong or dim light. Our videos also turned out quite grainy, or simply unwatchable using the anti-shake mode, which ironically added some nausea-inducing glitching. To be fair, most budget tablet cameras are utter pants, so we’d recommend only using the camera for quick and dirty social snaps, selfies and GIF creation.
Asus MeMO Pad 7 verdict
The MeMO Pad 7 is a dependable 7-inch tab that performs well and does everything you’d expect, with a slick updated Android KitKat interface. It’s a shame the screen wasn’t more eye-catching, or we’d have little trouble recommending it. If you’re a stickler for sharp visuals, you’d be better served by the Nexus 7 or Tesco Hudl.