ASUS MEMO Pad HD 7 review (video)
ASUS is a name we should all know by now, especially with the success of its Transformer tablets and being Google’s partner of choice for the insanely popular Nexus 7. Now, we have the ASUS MEMO Pad HD 7, a budget tablet that take cues from the Nexus 7 (2012). Just how well does it perform, though?
As a 7-inch tablet by ASUS, it’s not surprising that the MEMO Pad HD 7 takes a few cues from the Nexus 7 (2012). The MEMO Pad HD 7 can be best described as the fully plastic, slightly heftier version of the original Nexus 7 from 2012. It’s so alike that even the button layout and speaker grill placement is basically the same.
As I said, this is a fully plastic device, and while I wouldn’t call it a poor build, you’re certainly getting what you pay for. After all, this is a budget tablet, coming in at $150.
Looking at the front, we have the 7-inch slate with a respectable bezel around it, and while it’s not as thin as we’d really like it to be, it’s certainly manageable. You have your front facing camera centered up top along with the ASUS logo centered on the bottom.
Around the sides you see that this tablet is pretty thick. It’s like two parts glued together. Button layout is on the left side and the microSD slot on the right. I found the buttons somewhat odd because they lie at an angle on the back and thus feel weird to press. Anyway, USB and headphone ports are up top. Around the back we have the rear facing camera.
In the hand, this budget tablet toes the line of comfort by being almost larger than a one hand grip allows. It is actually well balanced — it isn’t light or heavy by any means — and while the plastic might allude to how cheap the MEMO Pad HD 7 is, it actually feels decent in the hand, as it lacks a slippery touch. Ultimately you get what you pay for with the MEMO Pad HD 7 but what you get doesn’t feel too bad.
The HD in the name for this MEMO Pad HD 7 means it is packing a display capable of 1280×800 resolution and 216ppi. While quite a few tablets out there sport less resolution, there are plenty others that are capable of more, so the MEMO Pad HD 7 sits pretty squarely in the middle.
As an IPS display, the MEMO Pad gets nice and bright colors, along with a nice amount of vibrancy. Viewing angles are better than most, and while pixel density might seem a little low, it doesn’t make as much of a difference when the screen is some distance away from your face.
Usually when the tablet is brought in closer, pixelation gets really bad. However, in the case of the MEMO Pad, its kept to a minimum, which definitely makes this performer an easier buy.
While the build and the screen are the better parts of this tablet, performance is where you begin to see that this is really a budget tablet. Built in is a MediaTek MT8125 chipset with a quad-core Cortex A7 clocked in at 1.2GHz, and graphics are handled by the PowerVR SGX 544MP1.
For a cheap tablet, you shouldn’t expect much out of the MEMO Pad HD 7, as you just aren’t going to get cutting edge performance out of a budget tablet like this. Scores in AnTuTu keep things pretty low, and in practice, I did run into very common instances of stuttering, even in the general UI.
Games are hindered quite a bit, and the stutter can get increasingly bad, impeding your ability to play. Multitasking isn’t helped by the 1GB of RAM — doing too much makes the stutter worse. For simple tasks, this aptly named MEMO Pad HD 7 could do a decent job, but anything more than that and you’ll see it struggle.
One thing the MEMO Pad HD 7 excels at is storage with the inclusion of a microSD slot. While cloud computing is something Google really tries to push with its Nexus devices, I can’t help but feel a twinge of jealousy with the extra native storage available via that microSD slot.
Aside from that, you get the standard stuff here — WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0, but no GPS or NFC. It’s about as barebones as you get, which basically justifies that $150 price point. Nonetheless, that microSD slot ASUS threw in really sweetens the pot.
The MEMO Pad HD 7 sports a 3,890 mAh unit, and while it isn’t very high in capacity, it was able to handle 7 hours of video looping.
Power saving certainly helps in this regard, as ASUS added in its own Power Saver to help you get the most longevity. Ultimately it will survive a day’s work — perhaps just barely depending on how much heavily you use it.
Honestly, cameras on tablets are hardly ever impressive. Rarely will you find flash diodes on tablets, and that usually tells you a thing or two about quality.
Coming in at a mere 5-megapixels, the MEMO Pad HD 7’s camera isn’t exactly the talk of the town. The app has a good amount of filters and scene modes on top of Panorama and HDR.
As for picture quality, well, it’s pretty much what you would expect out of a tablet like this, though it’s pretty good for pictures in a pinch. Colors are a little muted and lack some vibrancy, while the sharpness leaves a little to be desired in shots with some depth.
When it comes down to it, it’s just what you would expect out of a cheap tablet like this.
If you were looking for stock Android in this cheap tablet, it’s the exact opposite in this little performer. ASUS doesn’t spare any expense in the software department, adding in a myriad of its own tweaks and extras.
This Android 4.1.2 version of ASUS’ own UI comes with a lot of preloaded additions that you may or may not need, and their are certainly a lot of them. Aside from the Power Saver already mentioned, built in apps include a Movie Studio for editing recorded video, and there’s even a couple ASUS branded creative apps like Artist for drawing and Studio for gallery editing.
Some of the biggest changes are in the general UI, such as the power widget in the notification dropdown that gives access to some most used settings in a rather garish purple color. Holding the home button will open an arch of shortcuts, which can all be customized.
Finally, an extra button on the left of the soft keys gives you access to small overlay apps that stay on top of anything you’re already doing. You get a lot of tools but I can’t help but think that the sheer number of additions just further bogs down a tablet that is already struggling to perform well.
As I’ve mentioned before, the ASUS MEMO Pad HD 7 has a price tag of $150, which is a great price for a decent tablet like this. It’s likely that, with a little surfing, you’ll be able to find deals to lower that price even more, too.
The ASUS MEMO Pad HD 7 is a decent tablet, but beyond that, you’re not getting any real advancements. It’s a simple tablet on the outside, but when you start getting into the software, you notice ASUS did all they could to make a great user experience, but in doing that, they may have slowed it down more than anything.
If you could shell out an extra $80 you could get a much better performing tablet — the Nexus 7 (2013). The only real downside is giving up expandable memory. However, on a budget, shelling out extra money sometimes just isn’t possible. In that case, the MEMO Pad HD 7, can give you just what you need, but if you’re looking for anything beyond that, you may regret your purchase.
Another benefit to getting the Nexus 7 (2013) over the ASUS MEMO Pad HD 7 is that you’ll get a tablet that can stand the rest of time in such a competitive and fast market. Looking at the MEMO Pad, there’s not going to be much to boast of in a year from now.
More importantly, you have to weigh the options of saving money or, quite simply, having a much better time elsewhere.
Brad Ward contributed to this review.