Asus’ latest MeMO Pad 7 ME572C is basically a fresh take on the Nexus 7 tablet, sporting a desirable design, Full HD screen and a satisfying all-round user experience. Here’s our full review of this 7-inch Android tablet.
It’s difficult to accuse Asus of ripping off the design of Google’s Nexus 7 tablet for this MeMO Pad 7, as Asus actually designed and crafted the Nexus 7 as well. However, things haven’t exactly changed much in the 16 months since the Nexus 7 first hit our shelves – and to be honest, that isn’t really a bad thing.
The MeMO Pad 7 sports the same ‘stretched’ finish, with wide bezels either side of the 7-inch screen, which makes the tablet quite comfortable to clutch in landscape mode. Especially handy if you’re watching a movie or browsing the web. Adding to the comfort is the 269g weight, which makes the MeMO Pad even lighter than the iPad Minis (although it’s also a teeny bit thicker at 8.3mm).
While the Nexus 7 tablet had rounded edges, however, Asus has gone with sharp corners for the MeMO Pad 7. We prefer the new angular look, although the quilt-pattern back isn’t quite as nice on the fingertips as the Nexus 7’s satisfyingly smooth rear.
You can pick up the MeMO Pad 7 in four colours, all of which come with pointless adjectives attached: Rose Champagne, Burgundy Red, Hot Pink and our favourite, Gentle Black. Gentle and tender like a puma, or the endless bleakness of space.
There’s no SIM card slot for staying connected outside of Wi-Fi hotspots, but you do get a microSD memory card slot for expanding the 16GB of space – just as well, as only 11GB of that was actually free for our apps and media.
Screen and media
These days we always expect at least a Full HD display on our tablets, especially as Tesco’s Hudl 2 sports a gorgeous high-res screen for £130. Good news is, the MeMO Pad 7 doesn’t disappoint, with a 1920×1200 IPS panel that’s more crisp than a Walkers multi-pack.
At roughly 320 pixels-per-inch, the new MeMO Pad 7 beats the Nexus 7 for sharpness and also avoids that tablet’s slight yellowy tint that mutes whites. It really is a stunning screen – even when you’re simply browsing the web or checking your to-do list for the day – thanks to that HD resolution.
When you’re chilling with some films, you might want to plug in some earphones, however. The MeMO Pad 7’s speakers are not just poorly positioned (at either edge, right where your palms are available to smother them), they’re also tinny and a wee bit pants as well.
Android 5.0 Lollipop is sadly nowhere to be seen yet, but an update should be on its way soon, once Asus adapts it to work with its own Zen UI. Until then, Android 4.4 KitKat is still a pleasure to use, with some nifty visual and functional tweaks courtesy of that Zen UI overlay.
For a start, we like the updated and feature-packed lock screen. By default this not only shows the date and time, but also gives you quick access to three of your favourite apps and shows you what’s coming up in your diary (or any impending birthdays or travel plans).
We’d probably love the lock screen if it also showed you any waiting notifications, but you can always dive straight into the notifications bar by dragging down from the top of the screen, without having to unlock the MeMO Pad first. You can also add a widget such as Gmail to the lock screen, which you swipe into view by flicking the date/time widget away.
Asus has ploughed a bunch of its own apps into the MeMO Pad too, many of which are simply nicely designed alternatives to existing features. For instance, Do It Later is a neat little reminder service which you can fill with emails, texts and other bits that demand your attention. You can add items to it directly through Asus’ apps, such as Email and Browser, although this does tie you into using the proprietary apps – there’s no Do It Later option added to Gmail, for instance.
More potentially useful are Asus’ quick connect tools, which let you communicate with other wireless devices in the home or office. Remote Link and PC Link let you control your PC, for instance to throw content or manage a slideshow. while Share Link is an NFC replacement for sharing files with other phones or tablets. It’s just a shame there’s no HDMI port to quickly hook up to a TV or projector.
Asus has also added in some extra security, so the passcode you enter doesn’t just unlock the MeMO Pad, it also decrypts all of your data.
Performance and battery life
As usual, Asus has stayed loyal to Intel and shoved a quad-core Atom processor into the MeMO Pad 7, backed by 2GB of RAM. And as usual, the experience is more than satisfactory. You can play the latest games and stream Full HD video with no drop in performance, while zipping around the desktops and menus is as smooth as you’d like.
The MeMO Pad 7 also enjoys some decent battery life, with enough juice to keep you going for a couple of days if you’re simply playing with apps and checking emails whenever you hit Wi-Fi. Of course, if you want to play some movies to make your journeys less tedious, the battery runs down a bit quicker. That said, we still managed to get a mighty impressive eight hours of playback on a single charge, which comes close to matching the iPad Mini’s ten-hour record.
The obligatory 5-megapixel rear camera is on hand to take random snaps and the auto-focus and HDR mode help to keep things sharp and well lit. Our photos still had a soft quality to them, however, so we’d only want to use them for social network shots in a pinch.
And of course, you have a 2-megapixel camera for selfie shots and web chats. It’s perfectly sharp enough for nattering with mates over Skype – perhaps a little too sharp if you’ve been pounding the booze or forgetting to moisturise.
The Asus MeMO Pad 7 ME572C is one of our favourite affordable Android tablets of recent times. Families will get more from the Hudl 2, with its excellent family features, but the MeMO Pad is great for anyone wanting to stay productive as well as entertained on the move.
A lack of SIM/LTE support and HDMI connectivity is a shame, but the gorgeous Full HD screen and smooth performance make the tablet perfect for getting creative or enjoying high-def movies, while Asus has packed in a few different ways of hooking up with other devices. Factor in the impressive battery life and you’ve got an excellent all-round portable pal.