The Google Nexus 7, manufactured by ASUS, has been a leading choice in affordable, small form factor tablets since its release. With the seven-inch MeMO Pad, ASUS is attempting to go to the well once more with a stripped-down, budget friendly variation on the Nexus design.
The result is a solid but fairly unimpressive tablet that fails to deliver the high-end experience of its predecessor.
A comparison of tablets would suggest, at least superficially, that there is little difference between the ASUS MeMO Pad and the Nexus 7. At 7.7-by-4.7-by-0.45 inches the ASUS MeMO Pad is virtually the same size as the Nexus, and only slightly heavier at 13.1 ounces.
The design is very similar as well, though the textured back panel feels much more plastic and unpleasant than the softly rubberized Nexus 7 backing. Like most ASUS devices, the build quality is solid despite the use of plastic.
The MeMO Pad’s layout is a bit unorthodox. The power button and volume rocker are located at the top of the left edge. The headphone jack is placed on top, while the micro-USB port and microSD slot are arranged along the bottom edge.
Compared to tablets that lack expandable storage options, such as the Nexus 7 or Kindle Fire HD, the addition of a microSD slot is an appealing prospect. A single speaker is tucked away around the back of the tablet in a small grille-covered slot.
Resolving the Details
At 1,024-by-600 pixels, the MeMO’s seven-inch display is disappointing. Compared to tablets with 1,200-by-800 IPS panels, the MeMO makes use of a cheaper twisted nematic display. The result is poor image quality and viewing angles.
Viewed from any angle other than straight-on, the display quickly becomes washed out. This problem is somewhat less pronounced in portrait mode, but is still more of an issue than it should be.
Under the Hood
The MeMO Pad is powered by a dual-core, one gigahertz VIA WM8950 processor and one gigabyte of RAM. It delivers decent performance while performing basic tasks, but this tablet is unmistakably low-powered compared to tablets like the Nexus 7. Gaming and other intensive tasks are nearly impossible.
The operating system is a modified version of Android 4.1.1 Jelly Bean, featuring a Floating Apps interface that allows common applications to be launched in a small resizable window that floats on top of open apps.
The ASUS MeMO Pad is designed to be a budget tablet, and that’s exactly what it is. For those who demand little from their tablet, the affordable price tag may be too good to pass up. The microSD slot is also a nice option that is lacking on many other tablets.
For everyone else, however, the poor display and mediocre performance will be too hard to overlook. The original Kindle Fire and Apple’s iPad Mini both offer similarly middling specs, but the iPad Mini compensates with exceptional quality and software. The Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD are both better tablets in comparison to the MeMO Pad, and are well worth the extra money for most users.