26 October 2014

Asus MeMO Pad 7 ME572C review

Key Features: 7-inch, 1,920 x 1,200 IPS screen, 64-bit Intel Atom processor; 16GB storage with microSD slot; Intel Atom Z3560 CPU
Manufacturer: Asus

What is the Asus MeMO Pad 7 ME572C?

The Asus MeMO Pad 7 ME572C is the highest-end tablet in the MeMO line, which has to date been home to real entry-level tablets. This one costs you £180, and gets you similar specs to the Nexus 7.

Asus MeMO Pad 7 ME572C

Now that tablets like the Tesco Hudl 2 are here to take the shine of its value score, we do wish the Asus MeMO Pad 7 ME572C was a little bit cheaper to make it stand out more. There’s masses of competition among budget tablets these days.

However, solid performance and a great Full HD screen make the Asus MeMO Pad 7 ME572C if you don’t like the excessive branding of the Hudl 2 or the lack of expandable memory in the Nexus 7.

Asus MeMO Pad 7 ME572C: Design

Asus clearly wants to separate the MeMO Pad 7 ME572C from the cheaper MeMO-series tablets. The chunky curvy design of those bargain tabs has been replaced with a much slimmer body and a sharper look.

While the sides are curved so they don’t feel to severe in-hand, the corners are sharp – a look quite unlike most other budget 7-inch tablets. It’s 8.3mm thick, making it ever-so-slightly thinner than the Nexus 7, and at 269g it’s a bit lighter too.

That’d all be impressive if the Nexus 7 wasn’t all-but ancient history at this point. While it’s still a ‘current’ model, the 7-inch Nexus is well over a year old.

Thinner and lighter isn’t really what we were after in the MeMO Pad 7 ME572C, though. Dimensions-wise the only thing we’d like to tweak here is the height of the tablet. There’s a good expanse above and below the screen, especially above it. While we agree with keeping a bit of space on which thumbs can rest, there’s more than we need here. It exacerbates an issue with widescreen tablets: they can feel a bit… long.

We expect there’s quite so much blank blackness here because Asus needs the space to fit in all the MeMO Pad 7 ME572C’s components. But given it’s the same height as the Nexus 7, we’d hope to see some progress by now. For those who don’t know yet, Asus also makes the Nexus 7. There’s a mild whiff of water-treading here.

The finish is a bit contentious too. The MeMO Pad 7 ME572C’s back panel has an embossed texture for extra grip, but it’s otherwise plain, hard plastic. There’s not a hint of soft-touch feel to the back. It’s the only element of the design that comes across as a bit cheap.

It’s clearly a conscious design choice too, as the non-textured rounded edges are soft-touch. You’ll get used to it, but we felt a wave of disappointment on first holding the MeMO Pad 7 ME572C, after hearing about how much of a step up this represents for the MeMO series.

The Nexus 7 has a marginally nicer feel, but the MeMO Pad 7 ME572C has its own share of benefits. Perhaps the most important is the microSD slot on the left edge. You get 16GB of storage as standard, and having a memory card to call on too makes this a much better portable media player than the Nexus 7.

Asus MeMO Pad 7 ME572C: Speaker Quality

The MeMO Pad 7 ME572C also offers proper stereo speakers, but they’re not a total smash. Sitting on the sides of the tablet when held in landscape, they offer a great stereo image. In the right conditions they offer a much more expansive soundstage and you get with most rear speakers.

We say ‘the right conditions’ because they’re far too easy to block with your hands, especially when playing landscape-aspect games. The outlets sit slap-bang in the middle of each side and are only about an inch across. Your hands naturally fall over them: it’s a real design fail.

The Tesco Hudl 2 speaker design is much better – they sit on the back but are placed above where your hands rest.

Sound quality of the Asus MeMO Pad 7 ME572C is fair, but not great. There’s a good amount of top-end detail, but it’s also slightly top-heavy. While there’s a bit more mid-range than truly tinny speakers, they fail to bring the extra power we listen for in a tablet speaker. Still, we’d class them as above average if it wasn’t for the glaring practical issue of placement.

The Tesco Hudl 2 offers slightly less finesse, but a weightier sound that’ll probably work better in many conditions.

Asus MeMO Pad 7 ME572C: Screen

The Asus MeMO Pad 7 ME572C has a 7-inch screen. It has been for the last few years the standard size for budget tablets, but we’re starting to see more manufacturers embrace 8-inch designs. Even Google has diversified with the 8.9-inch Google Nexus 9.

This is the first time we’ve seen a MeMO tablet with a Full HD screen, although Asus also offers an 8-inch model with such a display too, that's the ME581CL.

For the most part, the Pad 7's screen is great. As has become the standard for just about all tablets, the Asus MeMO Pad 7 ME572C uses an IPS LCD screen, and that guarantees you fairly decent viewing angles. Angled viewing here, though, is superb.

An IPS screen pretty much ensures you’re not going to get any horrible contrast shift, which is where colours invert and everything on-screen goes shadowy at an angle. IPS does not guarantee you good brightness retention at an angle.

There’s virtually no brightness loss with angled viewing on the Asus MeMO Pad 7 ME572C – a fantastic result in what is still a pretty affordable tablet.

The screen clearly uses a pretty slimline architecture too, as the image also appears to be right on the surface of the screen. If the display’s inner workings aren’t slim enough, the image will appear a bit recessed – most lower-cost tablets are like this.

Contrast is good too, although as with any LCD tablet black levels are not perfect.

As we’ve seen in previous Asus tablets, the Asus MeMO Pad 7 ME572C’s colour reproduction is very good as well. Fresh out of the box settings are solid, but you also get to tweak the colour a bit with the long-standing Asus Splendid app. It lets you fiddle with the colour temperature and saturation levels. We’re pretty happy with what the tablet uses as standard, but if you really must have OLED style overblown shades, you can get them.

Good colour, good contrast, an immediate image and Nexus 7-matching 1,920 x 1,200 pixel resolution give the Asus MeMO Pad 7 ME572C a very satisfying display. While we didn’t have the Nexus 7 on-hand for direct comparison, we think the Asus is either on-par or better. Pure display quality is superior to the Hudl 2, with greater contrast, more accurate colour temperature and marginally better viewing angles. Of course, sometimes a larger display is better – the Hudl 2 has an 8.3-inch screen.

So far, the Asus MeMO Pad 7 ME572C display sounds top-notch, but there is an issue with our review sample. There’s quite noticeable backlight bleed at one edge of the screen, which becomes noticeable when viewing dark images with the screen brightness is turned up above 50 per cent. You’re very unlikely to notice it during normal use, though, and this is unlikely to affect all of these tablets – it’s a manufacturing issue that will likely vary a fair bit between instances.

Even with this issue, we’re more than happy with the Asus MeMO Pad 7 ME572C’s screen performance. It trashes the cheaper MeMO models, although with the cheaper 7-inch equivalent Asus MeMO Pad 7 ME176CX now on sale for as little as £99.99, it’s far from game over for it.

Finishing things off, the Asus MeMO Pad 7 ME572C is topped with Gorilla Glass 3, which provides a nice, smooth surface and a good amount of scratch protection. It’s common in cheaper tablets these days, but a good feature to make sure you get if you’re buying budget.

Asus MeMO Pad 7 ME572C: Android Software

Like previous Asus Android tablets, the Asus MeMO Pad 7 ME572C uses a custom UI that doesn’t dramatically add or detract from vanilla Android. The usual layout of the system is kept in-tact and thanks to the high-quality display, everything looks sharp and pristine.

The look of the interface lacks some of the printing appearance of the latest Android L Google Now interface – the one seen in the Nexus 9 – but in exchange you get a decent amount of customisation. For example, you can choose how big the grid is in your apps menu.

Want everything spread out? You can fit just 4x4 icons in if you like. We find that the outer limit 6x6 icons suits the Asus MeMO Pad 7 ME572C best thanks to its relatively high-dpi screen, but that’s up to you.

Asus has also jammed a load of software into the tablet, not all of which is entirely welcome. Well-meaning as it may be, it’s easy to get app blinded when deluged with a dozen extra bits that most people wouldn’t touch. Here’s a quick run-down of what’s on offer:

Audio Wizard: Audio EQ software
Data Transfer: Transfer data from your old phone
Dictionary: Obvious, right?
Do It Later: Virtual post-its
Flipboard: Famous news aggregation app
Mirror: Front facing camera, sans photos
Omlet Chat: Chat app
PC Link: Share screen with PC over USB
Power Saver: Power-saver settings
Share Link: Wireless file transfer interface
Story: Picture book creator (yes, really)
Super Note: Virtual post-its, in slightly different form
Weather: Obvious, again, right?
WebStorage: Interface for Asus cloud storage
Setup Wizard: Setup, in case you did it wrong the first time
Splendid: Screen customisation utility
Party Link: Share pictures with nearby devices
myAsus: Asus support

It gets exhausting, and when other manufacturers are starting to prune back the apps they preinstall on tablets and phones, it’s a shame Asus hasn’t done the same. Imagine buying a house only to find it filled with someone else’s stuff. Some of it’s fine. Some of it isn’t, and one of the bedrooms has Hello Kitty wallpaper. There’s work to do.

The Asus MeMO Pad 7 ME572C does make cleaning up the tablet pretty easy, though. Virtually an admission that there’s a fair bit of extra bloat, you can uninstall apps straight from the apps menu, and either hide or disable the ones you can’t uninstall. Want your tablet pure and simple? It’s easy, although we’re not convinced everyone will realise you can do this.

You end up with just under 11GB of free space after all the apps have had their, which is fairly standard for a 16GB tablet. None are particularly draining.

Asus MeMO Pad 7 ME572C: Games and Performance

Much like the Asus Memo Pad 7 ME176C, the Asus MeMO Pad 7 ME572C gets you pretty great performance for your money, if you put any faith in benchmarks. It uses an Intel Z3560 processor, a 64-bit chipset that’s somewhat more advanced than the one you’ll find in the Tesco Hudl 2, which also uses an Intel CPU..

The ME572C's is a quad-core CPU clocked at 1.83GHz, and in the Geekbench 3 benchmark it scores 2462 points. That’s significantly greater than what the Nexus 7 manages, and is pretty close to what some Snapdragon 800 devices achieve.

While a good performance, let’s not forget the LG G Pad 8.3 offer a larger screen and comparable CPU performance for the same price.

It’s also not yet clear how much the Asus MeMO Pad 7 ME572C will benefit from the ’64-bit’ Android L, if it gets an upgrade to that next version of the system. At present Intel Atom chipsets run Android with a special kernel, and we’re not sure whether that will still be required with Android L or not.

Largely pointless future-gazing aside, we’re very happy with the Asus MeMO Pad 7 ME572C’s performance. It breezed through our usual gaming tests, and the experience is only improved by the strong screen contrast.

As discussed earlier, though, the speakers become a real pain when playing games in landscape. It’s almost impossible not to block them. You effectively have to re-learn how to hold your tablet when gaming, using a much lighter grip than you might do normally.

The headphone jack is at least placed out of the way, but it’s hardly compensation.

Asus MeMO Pad 7 ME572C: Battery Life

The Asus MeMO Pad 7 ME572C is pretty thin compared to the other MeMO-series tablets, but that doesn’t hold back battery life, which is very impressive. In our usual video loop test, where we charge the battery to 100 per cent and leave the thing playing a 720p MP4 video file on mid-level brightness until it does, it lasted for a very solid 11 hours.

That’s better than what you might expect from the Nexus 7 – finally we’re seeing some quantifiable improvements.

The Asus MeMO Pad 7 ME572C uses a 3950mAh battery, which is actually exactly the same as the Nexus 7, suggesting the stamina improvements are down to the efficiency of the Intel Atom Z3560 rather than something Asus has done. Asus’s software tweaks may have a part to play too, though.

Asus MeMO Pad 7 ME572C: Cameras

Asus has not made any sweeping changes to the camera hardware it uses in the Nexus 7 either, by the looks of things. Like the Nexus, the Asus MeMO Pad 7 ME572C uses a 5-megapixel rear sensor, while the front one offers 2-megapixel resolution.

There’s autofocus for the main camera, one of the initial building blocks of a decent setup, and face detection, but image quality is not special. If you have a decent phone, it’ll outclass the results from the Asus MeMO Pad 7 ME572C. It’s also a shame that the standard 16:9 preview image is especially rough-looking – switch to 5-megapixel 4:3 shooting and what’s on-screen pre-shoot looks much better. A software tweak could likely have improved this.

Asus has put in the same jazzy software we saw in phones like the Asus Zenfone 5, though. This offers far more modes than you normally get in a tablet camera. As well as standards light HDR, Panorama and Night mode, there are several more unusual picks.

The Asus MeMO Pad 7 ME572C offers one that takes a selfie when it detects a certain number of pre-selected faces in the shot. There’s also a shallow depth of field effect, tilt shift, beauty mode, animated GIF creator and several burst modes.

As we can’t imagine too many budding photographers wanting to lean to heavily on a tablet for their needs, we’ll put these as things for the kids to play with. However, number of tourists we see in London using tablet cameras suggest we may be wrong.

Anything else to consider?

We’ve been looking at the Wi-Fi only version of the ME572. However, Asus also makes a 3G/4G  edition. If you’re on the hunt for that, look for the ME573CX. It doesn’t seem to be widely available in the UK, though.

Both types have GPS, though, making them more handy for holidays and general navigation.

There remain a few missing bits, though. There’s no IR transmitter, which lets a tablet masquerade as a once-popular, still extant universal remote control. Wi-Fi ac is also missing – you only get up-to n support here.

These little extra features are ways Asus could have separated the ME572C from the Nexus more clearly. Missed opportunities – although granted they’d backfire if they caused the price to rise by as much as £5.

Should I buy the Asus MeMO Pad 7 ME572C?

Just as the Nexus 7 is old but still good, the Asus MeMO Pad 7 ME572C seems late, but still solid. It’s a 7-inch tablet when 8-inch models are suddenly becoming popular, and doesn’t reach anywhere near the budget pricing of something like the Tesco Hudl 2.

This is quite a conservative tablet in most respect, disappointingly so in some. However, it supplies the goods in all the key fields while pitching itself at a sensible – if not quite outright impressive – price. Screen quality is very good, battery life is commendable and while we take issue with some of the approaches to software taken here, performance is strong.

If what you’re after is a Nexus 7 with expandable memory, you can do a whole lot worse than the Asus MeMO Pad 7 ME572C. But there are larger-screen options at the same price these days that can offer more.


This is the tablet we were longing for back in late 2013. All this time later, the Asus MeMO Pad 7 ME572C isn’t the value king it could have been, but ticks the display, performance and battery life boxes in style.

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