Asus Memo Pad 7 ME176CX review
The same price as a Tesco Hudl, but slimmer, lighter and much faster: it's an outright bargain
Once the preserve of knock-off no-namers, the ultra-budget tablet space has recently become a more respectable place to be for big-brand manufacturers. Amazon's older Kindle Fires, the Tesco Hudl, and the Barnes & Noble Nook HD tablet have all been on sale for around £100 or less at some point, and it's this tightly fought battle that the Asus Memo Pad 7 is set to join. Read on for our in-depth Asus Memo Pad 7 review
It's a 7in tablet that runs Android and, at only £120, it costs the same as a Tesco Hudl. In terms of design, the Memo Pad 7 has it well beaten. It comes in a selection of colours, including the rather fetching red of our review sample, and the rear panel is finished in an understated plain, matte plastic. See also the 11 best tablets of 2014
The black bezels surrounding the 7in screen aren't too broad, lending it a more upmarket look than the Hudl, and it's noticeably more svelte, measuring 10.3mm from front to back and weighing 326g. The Memo Pad 7 is solidly built, too, exhibiting none of that telltale budget-tablet creak when twisted and generally manhandled.
In terms of ports, there's nothing out of the ordinary here, with only a micro-USB port and a 3.5mm audio jack found on the top edge of the device. We were pleased to see a microSD card slot, though.
Asus Memo Pad 7 ME176CX review: performance and battery life
The Memo Pad 7's core hardware put in a spectacular performance, however. Powering the show is a quad-core Intel Bay Trail Z3745 CPU, which runs at a frequency of 1.33GHz and is supported by 1GB DDR3 RAM, and this proved to be a far more powerful unit than the 1.5GHz quad-core Rockchip processor in the Hudl.
We also ran the Geekbench 3 benchmark test, in which the Memo Pad 7 delivered a single-core score of 769 and a multicore score of 2,427, once again outperforming both the Hudl and Nexus 7. And its gaming capabilities are fantastic, with an average frame rate of 27fps in the GFXBench T-Rex HD onscreen test – right up there with the fastest tablets we've reviewed. Even demanding games such as Asphalt 8: Airborne exhibited no slowdown and 2D games were a real joy to play.
Needless to say it's a highly responsive tablet: moving between apps and navigating around Android 4.4 was a breeze, and we experienced no typing lag when using the onscreen keyboard. The Memo Pad 7's 3,950mAh lithium-polymer battery put in an equally impressive showing, powering the tablet for 10hrs 16mins in our looping video battery test with the screen set to a brightness of 120cd/m².
Asus Memo Pad 7 ME176CX review: screen
The Memo Pad 7's IPS screen is fine, but it doesn't reach the same high standards. We measured its maximum brightness at 303cd/m² and its contrast ratio at 721:1. These aren't disastrous results, but they see it fall behind the Hudl fractionally, and they put it some way behind the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HDX 7in. Its 800 x 1,280 resolution lags behind the Hudl's 900 x 1,440 display as well, but it doesn't look noticeably less sharp to the naked eye.
Don't expect to capture sumptuous landscapes using the rear 2-megapixel camera, either. Photographs snapped with it were lacking in detail, smeary and over-compressed, a problem exacerbated by the lack of autofocus. Picture quality was very noisy in low light and the 0.3-megapixel front camera fared even worse. Video playback was just as grainy, and shaky too thanks to a lack of any kind of image stabilisation.
Despite a couple of bumps along the way, though, Asus Memo Pad 7 turns in a highly impressive performance. It's much faster than its big rival, the Tesco Hudl, and its design is more attractive as well. For only £120, this is one seriously impressive tablet, and very good value for money.
|Price ex VAT||£100|
|Price inc VAT||£120|
|Warranty||1 yr return to base|
|Features & Design||4|
|Value for Money||5|
|Dimensions||114 x 10.3 x 189mm (WDH)|
|Resolution screen horizontal||800|
|Resolution screen vertical||1,280|
|Display type||Multitouch, capacitive|
|CPU frequency, MHz||1MHz|
|Camera megapixel rating||2.0mp|
|Built-in flash type||N/A|
|Upstream USB ports||1|
|Mobile operating system||Android 4.4|