Gorgeous IPS display with wide viewing angles; Strong battery life; Good camera with lots of features; Accurate sound; Helpful ASUS software and widgets
Awkward power and volume button placement; Picks up fingerprints; Custom UI occasionally a little laggy
The ASUS MeMO Pad HD 7 combines a gorgeous screen, epic battery life, strong performance and a slew of premium features for under $150
Not long ago, you couldn't find a decent Android tablet for under $400. Today, you can find powerful 7-inchers like the Google Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD selling for around $199 with off-brand upstarts like the HiSense Sero 7 Pro selling for around $150 to $160. Enter the ASUS MeMO Pad HD 7, a $149 Android tablet that raises the bar for budget slates with a stunningly colorful 720p display, a quality rear-facing camera and microSD card expansion. With epic battery life, strong performance and powerful custom software, this is not only the leading tablet under $200, but one of the best you can purchase at any price.
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The MeMO Pad HD 7's chassis is covered in plastic that sits on top of aluminum base that gives the device a solid, durable feel. Users who dislike fingerprint marks won't appreciate the tablet's reflective surfaces. But with its minimalist looks and different color options, the back panel gives the ASUS MeMO Pad HD 7 a fashion-forward design.
Our review unit came with a white back, but the MeMO Pad HD 7 is also available in Midnight Blue, Vivid Pink, Lime Green and Charcoal Gray. We highly recommend the blue, pink or green colors, because they really look impressive. We wish, however, that the bezel wasn't so thick and that the power button and volume rocker weren't angled toward the back.
At 7.7 x 4.7 x 0.4 inches and 11 ounces, the MeMO Pad HD 7 is noticeably lighter and shorter than the HiSense Sero 7 Pro (7.9 x 5 x 0.4 inches, 12.7 ounces) and just a bit lighter than the Google Nexus 7 (7.8 x 4.7 x 0.41, 12 ounces) and 8-inch Samsung Galaxy Note 8 (8.3 x 5.35 x 0.31, 12 ounces). The Amazon Kindle Fire HD (7.6 x 5.4 x 0.4 inches, 13.9 ounces) is significantly bulkier.
The HiSense Sero 7 Pro also has a microSD card slot, but throws in a mini HDMI out port for connecting to your TV. While the MeMO Pad HD 7 doesn't have a wired connection for your TV, it does support the Miracast wireless display standard.
Better still, the MeMO Pad HD 7 includes a unique screen-tuning utility called ASUS Splendid that allows you to adjust the color temperature, hue and saturation while toggling Vibrant Mode. We particularly enjoyed moving the different slider bars in Splendid and seeing their effects on a preview image or raspberries. Enabling Vibrant Mode made colors in the trailers look noticeably more vivid.
At full brightness, the MemoPad HD 7 measured 358 lux on our light meter, which is well ahead of the Nexus 7 (314), about on par with the 355 lux tablet category average. The ASUS is slightly lower than the HiSense Sero 7 Pro (369) and way below the Amazon Kindle Fire HD (436). Though the screen looks bright and color indoors and in a shady area, it was harder to read in direct sunlight.
The rear-facing speaker bar on the MeMO Pad HD 7, which features ASUS SonicMaster technology, produced accurate audio that was loud enough to fill a small living room. When we listened to the bass-heavy R&B "Forget Me Nots," sound was rich and layered. The heavy metal "She's Got the Looks That Kill" wasn't as textured, but wasn't tinny either. ASUS's AudioWizard software allowed us to switch between different sound profiles, such as Gaming, Speed, Movie or Music Mode. As you might expect, songs sounded best in Music Mode.
Where most Android devices have several desktops and a few let you add or remove desktops at will, the MeMO Pad HD 7 takes desktop customization to another level. If you pinch-zoom out on the current desktop, you're shown thumbnails not only of your different desktops, but of different "modes" that each contain their own sets of desktops with different shortcuts, widgets and wallpaper. By default, the tablet has modes for ASUS (the default set of five desktops), Work (which has to-do list and calendar icons prominently displayed), Entertainment (YouTube widget) and the option to add other modes. We're not sure why a user would need so many different desktops and to divide them up into modes, but it's great to have so much flexibility.
Like Samsung, LG and HTC, ASUS has its own custom notification drawer, which has a row of quick setting toggles for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Silent Mode, Auto sync, and Auto rotate. Below that sit a brightness slider and shortcuts for the Wi-Fi network chooser, audio manager, settings menu and wireless display menu in addition to all your current notifications.
Like other heavy Android skins, ASUS's custom UI can be a bit laggy at times. In our tests, we sometimes noticed small, but annoying delays when switching apps or returning to the home screen.
ASUS bundles the MeMO Pad HD 7 with a slew of very useful and attractive proprietary apps. ASUS To-Do list helps you organize your tasks. SuperNote Lite is great for taking notes, organizing them and syncing them with the cloud. App Locker allows you to password-protect certain apps, restricting family members for accessing things they shouldn't.
MORE: 25 Best Android Apps
We particularly like the suite of custom image-editing/creation tools ASUS includes. ASUS Studio is a full-featured photo editor that lets you apply filters to your photos, crop them, draw on them, frame them or even write text on top of them. We really enjoyed using ASUS Artist, a detailed drawing program that allowed us to sketch with several different kinds of brushes, including a spray paint can, a pen and a traditional paintbrush. ASUS Story let us create a digital photo album from some of our snapshots.
ASUS also provides 16GB of free cloud storage for a year so users can keep plenty of their data in the cloud.
When we played the Jet Ski racing game "Riptide GP," we not only had smooth motion and sharp images, but also got quad-core special effects like water splashing on the camera after a jump. Shadowgun looked absolutely gorgeous on the 7-inch display with lots of billowing smoke effects and intricate backgrounds.
On Quadrant, a synthetic benchmark that measures overall performance, the ASUS MeMO Pad HD 7 scored a solid 3,414, comfortably above the 3,249 tablet category average, the Tegra 3-powered Google Nexus 7 (3,357) and the dual-core, TI OMAP 4460-powered Amazon Kindle Fire HD (2,167). However, the HiSense Sero 7 Pro and its Nvidia Tegra 3 T30 CPU scored 4,109.
When we ran An3DBench, a test that measures graphics prowess, the ASUS MeMO Pad HD 7 scored an unremarkable 7,139, a bit below the 7,320 category average, along with the scores returned by the Google Nexus 7 (7,782), HiSense Sero 7 Pro (7,636) and Amazon Kindle Fire HD (7,783).
The rear camera can also shoot high-quality 1080p video. When we captured a full HD clip of cars rolling down a city street, the texture of the pavement and the reflections of sunlight glistening off the side of a truck looked really alive.
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The front-facing camera shot detailed, colorful portraits both under the fluorescent lights of our office and in sunlight. When shooting some outdoor self-portraits in direct sunlight, we did notice a little white haze around our face.
ASUS offers a number of covers and cases for the MeMO Pad HD 7. The $39.99 TransCover comes in blue, black, gray and pink and folds out to serve as a stand. The $19.99 Persona Cover is available in pink, lime green and dark blue and opens like a book to reveal your tablet. The VersaSleeve 7 (price TBD) folds open like a wallet, can prop the tablet up in Landscape Mode and comes in gray, pink, blue and black.
If you want a small tablet with stronger note-taking ability and are willing to pay a lot more, consider the $399 Samsung Galaxy Note 8. However, if you want the best combination of value, endurance and performance in a tablet today, go for the ASUS MeMO Pad HD 7.
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|CPU||1.2-GHz Quad Core MediaTek MT8125|
|Storage Drive Size||16GB|
|Storage Drive Type||Flash Memory|
|Display Resolution||1280 x 800|
|Graphics Chip||PowerVR SGX 544|
|Front-Facing Camera Resolution||1.2MP|
|Card Reader Size||32GB|
|Warranty / Support|
|Size||7.7 x 4.7 x .4 inches|