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Huawei MediaPad M1 hands-on review (MWC 2014)

We check out Huawei’s affordable 8-inch tablet, which sports a rather familiar design…

Huawei threw back the curtain on two new tablets at MWC 2014: first there was the flagship Full HD MediaPad X1, which boasts a powerful 5-megapixel front-facing camera (something that can only be matched for selfie fans by nVidia’s upcoming smartphone). Then there came the MediaPad M1, which is billed as an ‘entertainment tablet’ – although we can’t help but feel there’s some mixed messaging involved.

Huawei MediaPad M1 review at MWC 2014

Take half a glance at the above photo, and you’d be forgiven for mistakingly thinking we’re clutching an HTC One Tablet. Huawei has fitted dual speakers at the front of the MediaPad M1, to give you a powerful audio experience, and the resulting effect is a silver device that looks just like a huge version of HTC’s flagship. The tablet is slim and light (7.9mm, 339g) for comfortable one-handed use.

Huawei MediaPad M1 review at MWC 2014

We tried to test out the speakers, but Huawei won our unofficial award for headache-inducingly noisiest booth at MWC, and as such any audio was sadly muted. However, the speakers do seem powerful enough to put out a booming sound, certainly more than enough power for personal use.

A real shame is the stripped-back 8-inch IPS screen, which makes do with a 800×1280 resolution. That’s 197ppi if you’re interested. In comparison, that’s marginally better than the likes of the first iPad Mini (163ppi), but not as good as the Tesco Hudl (242ppi) or the likes of Amazon’s Kindle HD. Considering the Huawei MediaPad M1 is billed as a media entertainment tablet, we’d have loved to see a much crisper display – something found on the MediaPad X1. So, the question is, do you want dual speakers or Full HD visuals?

Huawei MediaPad M1 review at MWC 2014

Still, despite the low resolution, the MediaPad M1’s screen is still a colourful chappy thanks to the IPS technology. And even if you can’t enjoy crystal clear images, it’s still fine for streaming a bit of Netflix or Lovefilm (possible wherever you roam, thanks to the LTE support via the SIM card slot). You can fit a handful of films on the Flash drive too, with 8 or 16GB of storage available. A quad-core 1.6GHz processor keeps everything ticking over nicely, with 1GB of RAM on-board.

Huawei MediaPad M1 review at MWC 2014

Features-wise, there isn’t much to shout about beyond the front-facing speakers and LTE support. Android 4.2 JellyBean is the OS of choice – hopefully to be upgraded to KitKat sooner rather than later – and it runs smoothly on the MediaPad M1. 

Huawei MediaPad M1 review at MWC 2014

A 5-megapixel rear snapper packs some decent features such as HDR mode, and Huawei’s Smart auto mode. Selfie fans will want to check out the MediaPad X1 instead, however, as that tablet’s 5-megapixel front camera is much crisper than the MediaPad M1’s 1-meg shooter.

Huawei MediaPad M1 review at MWC 2014

Our main concern is that the MediaPad M1 does too little to stand out from the crowd. You can already bag a decent media tablet with a sharp resolution for £150 or under, although perhaps the LTE support will be enough to sway consumers looking for an always-on tablet, if the MediaPad M1 emerges at a competitive price.

You’ll see the Huawei MediaPad M1 in the UK around May, and it apparently will be ‘compeititvely priced’. What do you think – a worthy media tablet, or too little to excite compared to rivals such as the Kindle tablets and Tesco’s excellent-value Hudl? Let us know in the comments below.

Check out all of our MWC 2014 news and hands-on reviews in our MWC 2014 hub


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