Saturday, October 26, 2013

Review: ASUS MeMO Pad HD 7 — the budget tablet to look for


The entry-level Android tablet category is often filled with a sea of devices that either have uninspiring designs or mediocre hardware and software. In that regard, ASUS strived to make its new MeMO Pad HD 7 stand out among those.


The ASUS MeMO Pad HD 7, which was unveiled last June, is a 7-inch slate that aims to be your tablet on-the-go. It is small and lightweight, which makes it a pleasure to hold even with one hand. Its bezel is just right with ample spacing on the sides for your palm to sit on which avoids accidental touchscreen presses.


The sides are almost barren, save for the two ports on the top, namely the 3.5mm headphone jack and the microUSB port, as well as a microphone. You might be wondering, where are the power and volume keys if they are not on one of the sides?


Those aforementioned buttons are actually on the back — on its tapering edges. Both the power and volume keys sit in an awkward position just by the corner where the back housing meets the front. They are quite uneasy to press at first, but not by much especially when you already get the hang of it (hey iPad mini users!).

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The 5-megapixel camera sits just above the recessed ASUS logo, and the microSD card slot just to the right of it. The microSD card slot — which can accommodate up to 32GB of additional storage — is oddly unprotected, though it shouldn’t be much of a problem (it would be actually a good thing if you often swap cards). The loudspeaker is located on the tapered bottom edge. Thanks to the placement, it doesn’t get muffled when you put it on a flat surface.


The display of the MeMO Pad HD 7 is a 1280x800 IPS panel. While it isn’t a high-resolution display like what you will find on the Nexus 7 2013, it has a 216ppi pixel density which still looks nice to the eyes. Texts on webpages appear sharp and images on the screen look crisp. I also found the viewing angles to be pretty good.


What I liked about the display is that you can actually change the settings and calibration using the ASUS Splendid app like to make it more vivid if you prefer, adjust the color temperature to make it colder or warmer, and even tone the hue and saturation up or down to make it black-and-white or make it look very vivid according to your liking.



Running inside the MeMO Pad HD 7 is a minimally customized version of Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean. ASUS kept it as close to as stock and only added minor retouches, some small features like mini windows, and of course their own apps on top of the core apps like Chrome, Gmail, etc.


Among those customizations is the ability to choose between the vanilla Android notification panel which keeps things simple or the ASUS-made one which adds quick toggles for the most commonly used tasks as well as the ability to quickly adjust the brightness and audio profiles. It is very nice of them to have these options included.

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Another addition are the mini apps which lets you use pop-up applications without the need to leave or stop what you are doing. It’s really handy and works quite well. One use case for this is when you need to calculate some numbers, you just tap on the leftmost on-screen button and open calculator. No need to memorize or copy those digits!

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An ASUS keyboard comes by default, and while they keys are big and well-spaced, I had some wrong-presses every now and then especially when I type fast. Good thing there’s the stock Android keyboard preloaded which you can set as default. You’ll miss the dedicated number rows, though.


There are apps that the company bundled with the OS too, such as the App Backup, App Locker (protects your apps from unauthorized usage using a security code), ASUS Studio, Parental Control, and Web Storage (gives you additional 16GB cloud storage for 1 year), and more. Some of these are actually useful like the App Backup and App Locker, mainly if you are mindful of not having your personal files lost or accessed by anyone.



When it comes to processing prowess, the MeMO Pad HD 7 stands right in the middle. It’s not slow, and it’s certainly not the fastest among all. What I can tell you though is that with the quad-core Mediatek MTK 8125 chip, it handled most apps and games without much hiccups.


Simple operations on apps like Facebook, Twitter, and Chrome goes without a hitch. Webpages are being rendered almost instantly as they load, and scrolling is just as what you expect on a Jelly Bean device — smooth and fast.

However, I found a minor problem on the MeMO Pad HD 7. Despite having an ample 1GB of RAM, it gets bogged down occasionally particularly if you’re running a lot of apps and games in the background. It doesn’t affect the whole device, but launching apps take a little longer when this happens. Hopefully, ASUS will fix this by optimizing the software further more.

The stereo speakers on the 16GB variant I’m using is not as loud as expected, though it still delivers clear audio quality. You can change sound profiles depending on what you’re doing (listening to music, playing games, watching videos, etc.) using the Audio Wizard app.

The 3950mAh battery lasts me around a day or two, depending on usage. Today, I used this for 3 hours and had it on standby for 10 hours and I still have 40% remaining juice left. Doing more intense activities like gaming or watching movies would surely take a toll on the battery. ASUS quotes a 10-hour single charge for watching videos.



There is a 5-megapixel autofocus camera on the 16GB model (2-megapixel on 8GB model) and the quality is what you would expect on an entry-level device, and we’re talking about tablets. Tablets never really had great cameras before, more so for a device in this category.


Photos from the front-facing and main cameras appear soft, though they are still enough for occasional ‘selfies’ and video calling. The camera application made by ASUS and offers additional capturing modes like HDR, Panorama, and even Burst mode. Check out the sample shots I took below (click to view in full-resolution).

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The ASUS MeMO Pad HD 7 combines an affordable price tag with respectable hardware and software features plus the guarantee of having a device from a well-known global brand. The HD IPS screen is something that you cannot always expect on a P6,995 tablet, but ASUS begged to differ. The software is just of the right balance, with a slew of customization options and additional features that helps it stand out against the others in the same class. However, clearly, there is a room for improvement on the performance and I really hope that they will address this one.

The good
HD IPS display
Great viewing angles
Small and light
Offers customization options and features like mini apps
Respectable performance and battery life
Expandable memory using microSD
Comes with a stand out of the box

The bad
Sometimes gets slow when multiple apps are running
Camera is not so good

With all things considered, the ASUS MeMO Pad HD 7 is going to be worth your money. It is one of , if not the best budget Android tablet that you can get right now. It retails for P6,995 for the 8GB model and P8,995 for the 16GB model.

Disclosure: I won this ASUS MeMO Pad HD 7 unit at the local launch.

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It is available at ASUS Concept Stores and other authorized retailers nationwide. :-)

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