This entry-level tablet sports an IPS display with 1280 x 800-pixel definition, a Mediatek quad-core processor (MTK8125) clocked at 1.2 GHz, 1 GB of RAM and 16 GB of internal storage that's expandable by 32 GB via a microSD card slot.
There are also two cameras on board: a rear-facing 5-Mpx camera that films in 720p and a front-facing 1.2-Mpx webcam.
The Asus MeMo Pad HD7 is out now for around £150.
DESIGN & HANDLING
The MeMo Pad HD7 is less of a wannabe high-end tablet than the Fonepad. It's dressed in a somewhat drab, two-tone plastic with a fairly large bezel (the screen only takes up 60% of the total surface).
Handling the MeMo Pad with one hand is possible, but it's not as comfortable as other 7" tablets, like the Google Nexus 7 (also made by Asus), for example.
The back of the tablet is finished in a different colour from the bezel and the edges. In fact, the MeMo Pad HD7's casing is made up of three pieces rather than using a sleeker moulded body with no visible joins. Assembly leaves something to be desired too, as three parts are highly visible and aren't even aligned properly, so you can feel their edges when holding the tablet. That can become quite uncomfortable after long bouts of use.
One good thing, though, is that the back of the slate didn't heat up one bit during our various tests, even when it was working its hardest.
Asus handles the IPS display like a pro. And so it should after using this kind of screen technology in almost all of its mobile products for the past two years. So it's no surprise that the MeMo Pad HD7's screen is pretty easy on the eyes with good contrast (880:1), a maximum brightness of 370 cd/m² and good colour fidelity.
Delving into the nitty-gritty, we measured the Delta E at 3.6 (the difference between ideal colours and colours displayed onscreen; it should be as close to zero as possible) and the colour temperature at 6387 Kelvins, which is close to perfection and stays nicely uniform across the entire spectrum. Asus definitely succeeds in giving its latest device a balanced and accurate display. The Fonepad and the PadFone also gave similar results. What's more, the MeMo Pad HD7 has a better display quality than, say, the iPad Mini.
Thanks to the IPS display, viewing angles should theoretically be flawless. We did note, however, a slight loss in contrast in portrait mode when looking from the most extreme angles. Otherwise, screen readability is great thanks to the 1280 x 800p definition, which sits nicely inside the 7" screen. Edges of text and objects are displayed well, with no visible pixellation or aliasing.
INTERFACE & NAVIGATION
As usual, Asus hasn't pasted over the Android OS with a home-made UI, but it has added a few of its own apps to spice things up. You can go ahead and forget about "Splendid", the app that lets you correct the display settings, because it can't do any better than the already excellent factory settings. There's "Asus Story", an app for digital scrapbooking, "Asus Wizard", which serves as an equaliser for audio and video content, and "Asus Studio", a simple app for editing photos. Finally, just as we saw with the Fonepad, there's a "Lite" version of the very handy "Supernote" app.
The mini app menu that hovers over the interface—as seen in the PadFone Infinity and the Fonepad—is back again in the MeMo Pad HD7. You can access it at any moment by touching the button at the bottom left side of the black menu bar. There are 30-some apps that you can add to the menu to be displayed in this "picture-in-picture" menu, including the calendar, calculator, stopwatch, web browser, YouTube and Google search. All in all, it's pretty useful.
Even though the MeMo Pad wields a quad-core processor, that doesn't necessarily mean lightening-fast technology. Mediatek's MTK8125 processor is based on the ARM Cortex A7 architecture and it aims to be first and foremost energy efficient. This can be felt not only the processor's performance but also in the tablet's battery life, which we'll talk about later.
In practice, the MeMo Pad performs smoothly, especially if you stick to a basic usage of Android. We did notice a few screen hangs and freezes when there were a lot of apps open at the same time or when we moved from one app to the next. On the whole, there's nothing off-putting, but let's just say that the limits of the MTK8125 are sometimes rather too evident.
Browsing the web is efficient and smooth no matter what browser you choose. It's a snap to load pages, scrolling through them is fluid and the zoom function is consistently effortless and precise.
As we saw above, screen readability is great thanks to a resolution that suits this display size down to the ground.
Video playback is pleasantly surprising, mostly because very little seems to bother the Mediatek SoC. Even Titanic-sized files, like 1080p, 90 Mbps MKV movies, won't trip up this machine. For an entry-level device, this type of performance is almost unheard of! However, to be absolutely sure that it can read any file format, it's always better to download a third-party video player from the Google Play Store.
Unfortunately, the SoC/iGPU team that Asus picked for the MeMo Pad HD7 shows its limits when video gaming. The MeMo has no trouble running games that can typically be played on just about any machine, such as Temple Run, whereas heavyweight games like ShadowGun, Mass Effect, Infiltrator, Real Racing 3 and Fast and Furious 6 instantly become a choppy mess. Worse still, some games are just impossible to launch and crash the machine altogether. Hard-core mobile gamers, beware!
Ever since the Fonepad burst onto the scene with its energy-efficient Intel processor and battery life of more than 12 hours, Asus proved that an inexpensive tablet and a long battery life really can go hand in hand. But is the MeMo Pad HD7 up to the same standard? You bet! In our raw battery benchmark test, the slate goes beyond 14 hours! During our video playback test this amazing figure shrinks somewhat to a little over 10 hours. Still, this is one solid battery. With varied usage (web browsing, videos, games, e-mail), the slate hovers around 9 hours and 45 minutes and 10 hours and 30 minutes. Charging the device only takes around 2.5 hours.
Even with a 5-Mpx camera tacked onto the back of the MeMo Pad HD7, the photo mode really isn't all that it's cracked up to be. Sure, we've seen well worse, but we've also seen much better tablet cameras. Shots aren't clean or crisp, they have a reddish tint and photos taken in low light are barely usable. Frankly, the rear camera does a pretty terrible job, but it can still be used as a last resort.
The front-facing camera is really useful for video chat (Google Hangout or Skype). The picture isn't overly grainy and latency isn't a huge problem. Asus definitely played its cards right with this snapper.