6 September 2013

Asus MeMO Pad HD 7 review

Key Features: Quad-core 1.2GHz Mediatek MT1825 CPU; 1GB RAM; 16GB internal memory, microSD slot; Android 4.2; 7-inch 1,280 x 800 pixel IPS screen Manufacturer: Asus

What is the Asus MeMO Pad HD 7?

The Asus MeMO Pad HD 7 is a 7-inch Android tablet whose aims are very similar to the Nexus 7’s – it’s a versatile, portable and affordable tablet. But at £129 it’s a good deal cheaper than the new Nexus 7. And while there are clear compromises involved, it's one of the very few sub-£150 tablets we recommend.

Asus MeMO Pad HD 7 – Design

The most obvious element that has been kept simple in the Asus MeMO Pad HD 7 is its hardware design. You’re not going to be bowled-over by its look or feel.

To give it a more high street-friendly look, the tablet comes in a bunch of colours – none black – including dark blue, green, pink and white, but otherwise the tablet keeps things basic. The back is curvy plastic, where the first Nexus 7 had an almost leather-like textured rear and the £50 more expensive Asus Fonepad uses metal.

The Asus MeMO Pad HD 7 is also not super skinny. At 10.8mm thick, there’s a reassuring amount to grab onto here, although with a weight of just over 300g, it’s easily light enough to hold one-handed comfortably for a while.

This will become a theme of the review – the Asus MeMO Pad HD 7 isn’t flash, but using it is mostly a joy.

Looks-wise, it’s similar to the first-generation Nexus 7, with a pretty generous expanse of screen bezel to each side of the display and the tablet-standard innocuous black front. In a couple of ways, the Asus MeMO Pad HD 7 is quite different from the Nexus 7, though. The most significant exterior one is that it has a microSD memory slot on the left edge.

You get a reasonable 16GB of storage, 11GB of which is accessible. That’s pretty generous for a tablet this cheap. And if you want to carry around a chunky movie or music collection, you can always slap in a microSD memory card of up to 64GB extra memory - there's an exposed microSD slot on the tablet's side.

Asus MeMO Pad HD 7 – Screen

The name alone tells you a fair bit about the MeMO Pad HD 7’s screen. It’s seven inches across and has more pixels than the first 7-inch MeMO Pad.

However, calling it ‘HD’ might be considered a tad misleading. The Asus MeMO Pad HD 7 has a 1,280 x 800 pixel screen, on-par with the first-generation Nexus 7. Google’s second 7-inch Nexus tablet has a 1080p display, giving it much more credibility as an ‘HD’ gadget. This is one of the main reasons this new Asus tablet has managed to sell for £70 less than the new Nexus 7.

It’s a compromise, but this is undoubtedly one of the best tablet screens you get at the price – Asus shows us how things should be done here. It uses an IPS panel, which supplies much better viewing angles and better colour than many ultra-budget tablets.

Black level and colour reproduction have been significantly improved over the first-generation Nexus 7. According to Asus, the panel comes from a different supplier this time around, and there’s no contrast-limiting (but battery-improving) Nvidia Prism imaging engine to stymie the vividness of images. The screen image is altogether much more satisfying.

The 215ppi screen isn’t pixel-rich enough to create ultra-smooth Retina-style effect of something like the New Nexus 7 or iPad with Retina display, but text and images are nevertheless fairly sharp. At the price, we’re impressed.

What the Asus MeMO Pad HD 7 doesn’t have, though, is a decent anti-reflective screen coating. Consequently, it doesn’t fare too well outside. You’ll need to set the brightness to maximum for the screen to be anything approaching comfortable to view. Top brightness is good for a tablet this cheap, though.

One very neat Asus-specific feature of the MeMO Pad HD 7’s screen is provided by a little app called Asus Splendid. The name may be silly, but its functionality is great. It lets you change either colour temperature or the screen’s hue and saturation. You can even turn it into a black and white tablet.

Generally, a manufacturer’s apps can generally be replaced easily with choices from the Google Play app store, but you’d need to root your tablet to get the sort of control Asus Splendid gives you.

Asus MeMO Pad HD 7 - Software, Apps and Internal Speaker


Asus MeMO Pad HD 7 – Software

Most of Asus’s tablets don’t ooze ego – there’s generally little attempt to make their interfaces vary much from vanilla Android, which is how manufacturer's usually put their 'stamp' on a tablet. The Asus MeMO Pad HD 7 is no different.

It looks just like vanilla Android 4.2 (the version the tablet runs), apart from a few little tweaks. The most obvious gets its own spot on the main nav bar – where you’ll also find the usual back, Home and multi-tasking shortcuts

The extra one opens-up a tray of widget apps that sit on top of your home screen, rather than ‘in’ it like most widgets. These include a stopwatch, video player, calculator and a half-dozen other little utilities. We didn’t find them desperately useful, and this toolbar is one of the few parts of the interface that’s sluggish to operate, but it’s an inoffensive addition.

There are also optional power switches you can put into the standard drop-down notifications bar, for things like Wi-Fi, autorotate, and an easy screenshot function (hold down the multitasking button).

Many people may not even notice these alterations, but that’s no bad thing when Android 4.2 by itself makes the Asus MeMO Pad HD 7’s UI seem pretty intuitive and clean-looking.

Asus’s other additions are more traditional apps, and there’s nothing we haven’t seen before.

App Locker lets you password protect some or all of your apps, App Backup lets you install your apps to a memory card and Audio Wizard offers some digital signal processing modes to get the internal speaker sounding a little better depending on what you’re listening to. These are all basic utilities.

The other extra apps are the fluffier sort, which most tablet fans will likely want to replace with alternatives from Google Play. You get a photo editor, a basic painting app, a to-do list and Asus Story, which lets you create a ‘story’ flipbook using your own photos.

None of Asus’s apps impressed particularly – there are better options out there – but none are invasive enough to really affect how the tablet it to use. And, for a tablet of this price, it runs like a dream.

Asus MeMO Pad HD 7 – Apps, Games and Performance

The Asus MeMO Pad HD 7 has a quad-core Mediatek MT1825 CPU clocked at 1.2GHz and 1GB of RAM. This is a way below the top Android devices, which now have 2GB of RAM and much faster processors. If the quad-core revolution has taught us anything, it’s that just because a processor is ‘quad-core’ doesn’t mean it’ll trample a dual-core one.

Despite being quad-core and having an up-to-date 28nm, it seems to be geared-up for efficiency rather than raw power.

However, general navigation is mostly lag-free – far better than we’re used to for a tablet of this price. There are occasional loading stutters shortly after the tablet is awakened, but otherwise it’s a nippy little thing. 
Testing the Asus MeMO Pad HD 7 a little more rigorously, with high-end 3D games and performance benchmarks, the tablet competes reasonably well with mid-range Android phones and tablets.

It scored 12,800 in the AnTuTu benchmark, which is roughly on-par with the first Nexus 7 (but around half the score of a 'high-end' quad-core chip like the Galaxy S4's), and it can handle fairly impressive games, if not without frame drops in some titles. And our usual gaming benchmark Real Racing 3 continually crashed before we got to the tarmac. For pure gaming, the first-gen Nexus 7 is superior.

Asus MeMO Pad HD 7 – Video, Internal Speaker and Audio

As with most tablets, you’ll need a third-party app to get the most out of the Asus MeMO Pad HD 7 as a video player. Its video file support is much better than Android devices running an earlier version of the software – with integrated support for MKV – but it still failed on rare occasions to play either the audio or video track when certain codecs are used.

With MX Player, an app that fills-in support gaps using software rendering, the MeMO Pad HD 7 can play virtually any video file. The quad-core Mediatek CPU may not be a true powerhouse, but it can handle HD video at full speed. 

We find the Asus MeMO Pad HD 7 a pretty great little video buddy. It’s portable, but has a large enough screen to make watching a movie an enjoyable experience. Having a microSD card slot to hand is also a massive bonus – letting you carry a pretty sizeable movie/TV collection around with you.

The biggest issue is the reflective screen, which does become an annoyance when the tablet is taken outside.

The Asus MeMO Pad HD 7’s internal speaker is, much like the Asus-made Nexus 7, isn’t too great either. Volume output and the power of the sound have been improved significantly – it’s no longer weedy-sounding – and uses a stereo driver rather than a smaller mono one.
However, in another respect it might as well be mono. Both speakers sit along a thin grille on the bottom of the tablet’s rear (when the tablet is held upright). This is a fairly poor setup for movie-watching, as it has no hope of creating anything approaching a stereo effect. Its highly positional output gives a definite impression of the sound coming from one edge of the tablet when it’s held on its side.

For upright casual games, though, this is a pretty good speaker for a budget tablet.

Asus has also appeared to have addressed another complaint made about the Nexus 7. Output from the headphone jack is no longer depressingly low. It’s not hugely loud either, but only truly hard-to-drive headphones should have problem with the Asus MeMO Pad HD 7’s output.  

Asus MeMO Pad HD 7 - Battery Life, Camera and Verdict


Asus MeMO Pad HD 7 – Battery Life

Looking at the specs alone, you’d assume the MeMO Pad HD 7 wouldn’t last as long as the Nexus 7. It has a 3,900mAh 15Wh battery where the Nexus 7 has a 4,325mAh 16Wh unit.

However, in testing we found the MeMO outperformed its older brother. It lasts just over 10 hours when playing video, which is great performance for a low-cost, small tablet like this.

This solid performance is likely to be down to the 28nm construction of the Mediatek CPU, which makes it more efficient than the Tegra 3 of the Nexus 7. It also seemed to pay off in the heat the tablet gives off – the MeMO Pad HD 7 barely gets warm even after prolonged use.

Asus MeMO Pad HD 7 – Camera

There are two cameras on the Asus MeMO Pad HD 7, a 5-megapixel rear sensor and a 1.2-megapixel video chat camera. 
These are weaker parts of the tablet, but we have seen worse. There’s no flash to aid the main sensor, and images are noisy in most lighting conditions, but there is at least autofocus. Some bottom-rung Android tablets use a fixed-focus camera, which gives you no control over the subject of your shots. You get touchscreen focusing here.  

With a bit of patience, you can get some half-decent shots out of the MeMO Pad HD 7, however its white balance automation is seriously shaky and exposure can vary significantly between shots. Focusing isn’t the most reliable, either. Getting out-of-focus images and those with a weird colour cast is pretty common.

The camera app is a cut above most tablets in this budget sector, offering HDR and Panorama modes as well as some arty filters. Yes, the camera array is one of the weaker features of the Asus MeMO Pad HD 7, but if cuts are to be made we’re glad they’re made here – and if anything performance is good for a sub £130, ‘non-subsidised’ (unlike the Kindle Fire range) Android tablet.

Should I buy the Asus MeMO Pad HD 7?

The Asus MeMO Pad HD 7 is unlikely to sell in the numbers the Nexus 7 managed, and is not as technologically impressive as the New Nexus 7. However, it is one of the few budget tablets we feel happy to recommend. It’s a lot more flexible than other budget Android tablets like the Kindle Fire HD and Nook HD, thanks to its lack of a restrictive custom user interface. Heck, it’s even more flexible than a New Nexus 7, as it has a memory card slot.

There are compromises, several of them – performance is not perfect, the design is pretty bland and you’ll get better speakers elsewhere – but as a package it’s a great deal. Its main problem is the original Nexus 7, which is likely to be available for even less money as stocks of the older tablet are cleared. That tablet’s screen is worse and it doesn’t have expandable memory, but its construction is a bit better and offers superior gaming performance.


The Asus MeMO Pad HD 7 is a top budget tablet. If you don’t like the restrictiveness of something like the Kindle Fire HD, and don’t want to splash out on a £200 New Nexus 7, this is a top choice.   

1 comment:

  1. I have only had it for a few days, and have not had much time to really run it through its paces yet, but I am most likely going to return it. The display, especially. in regard to video, does seem really good. I have not found the device to be generally laggy so far, although I haven't really used it with many apps, under significant "load." My real complaint is with what I saw in some other reviews and was concerned about, the build, fit and finish and overall quality. it does seem creaky, the screen does seem like it is made from plastic, and the one I got had a little glue in the seam between the screen and the rest of the body. That seem seems to be of uneven width around the device and most likely will get other gunk caught in it. I really haven't had a chance to see if it has problems or works well with various apps, but will probably return it. I have ordered, believe it or not, a Dell venue 7, which has 1gb more internal memory, a decent (from what I have read) processor, and an equivalent screen. It runs stock android and is right now at 4.2 (like the asus), rather than 4.3, I think. And it is at a similar price point.


All comments will be posted after moderation. Please do not post links in your comments, otherwise they will not be published.
Thank you.

Share This