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With the original MeMo Pad, the manufacturer behind Google’s superlative Nexus 7 attempted to create a paradoxically budget-friendly version of an already budget-friendly tablet. The results, perhaps predictably, were less than stellar.
More than anything, the experiment proved that it’s difficult to build a tablet that strikes a good enough balance between quality and price to justify eschewing the Nexus 7. With the MeMo Pad HD 7 , however, ASUS may have just managed to do that.
On first glance, not much has changed from the first MeMo Pad. The case is still pretty plastic-heavy, the backing is still a magnet for fingerprints and smudges, and the build quality is pretty decent so long as you aren’t comparing tablets with high-end devices.
This is certainly an entry-level product, and while the 7.7-by-4.7-by-0.43 inch tablet feels comfortable enough to hold, it won’t be confused with the likes of the svelte second-gen Nexus or Samsung’s Galaxy Tab III 7.0.
A new MeMo Pad brings a new arrangement of buttons and ports around the outside of the device. The bottom-mounted micro-USB port has now migrated to the top, flanked by the standard 3.5-millimeter headphone jack and a small microphone.
The power button and volume rocker are along the right edge as usual, but their low-profile design can make it difficult to find and use them comfortably. The bottom now sports new dual stereo speakers, and the left edge features a microSDHC slot.
There may not be many advantages compared to tablets like the Nexus, but expandable storage is certainly a big one.
Resolving the Details
It seems that many manufacturers, such as HP with their Slate 7, haven’t quite figured out that consumers expect a decent display even with low-end budget devices. The Slate 7’s display is notoriously bad, but even the otherwise solid Galaxy Tab III is notably inadequate.
The MeMo Pad HD 7 tablet, in comparison, offers a display you don’t have to be embarrassed to use in public. It can’t quite stack up with the beautiful Nexus panel, but the 1,280-by-800 screen offers a sharp, rich picture with wide viewing angles and good contrast.
The panel itself is shiny enough to prove irksome in bright lighting, but it’s a small nit to pick for an otherwise satisfying display.
Under the Hood
Rather than pinching pennies with a substandard display, ASUS has opted to save some money on the MeMo Pad’s internals. The quad-core, 1.2-gigahertz MediaTek MT8125 processor certainly isn’t on a level playing field with the 1.5-gigahertz Snapdragon S4 processor powering the Nexus 7, but it does fare well against similarly priced devices like the HP Slate 7.
In real-world terms, you’ll be fine as long as you keep your expectations in check. The MeMo Pad HD 7 has enough juice to browse the internet, watch videos and do other routine tasks without much of a performance hit, but don’t expect to play the latest games or do other power-hungry tasks without a struggle.
Comparing tablets with the Google Nexus 7, the MeMo Pad HD 7 leaves a bit to be desired. The Nexus offers a gorgeous display and smooth, snappy performance that the MeMo Pad just isn’t built to match.
Considering the price difference, however, the MeMo Pad offers as good a tablet experience as you’re likely to find on the low end of the entry-level spectrum. The display and expandable storage are both wonderful inclusions that ought to make any shopper take a closer look at the MeMo Pad. The Galaxy Tab III and HP Slate 7 are probably more direct competitors, but neither can offer the sort of well-rounded package found in the MeMo Pad.
The best choice is probably springing for the slightly pricier Nexus 7, but the MeMo Pad HD is a fine consolation prize for those who want a more wallet-friendly option.