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Asus MeMO Pad Smart 10 review

Andrew Williams

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Summary

Our Score:

7

User Score:

Pros

  • Expandable memory
  • Solid connectivity options
  • Easy-going software customisation

Cons

  • Mediocre screen
  • Nexus 10 represents better value

Key Features

  • Plastic-backed body
  • Tegra 3 quad-core 1.2GHz CPU
  • 16GB internal memory
  • microSD memory expansion slot
  • microHDMI video output
  • Manufacturer: Asus
  • Review Price: £269.99

Introduction

During the course of 2012, budget tablets suddenly got a whole lot better. For under £200 you can now get a seriously capable tablet that can do just about everything a £500 tablet can. The Asus MeMO Pad Smart is Asus’s latest attempt at an affordable 10.1-inch tab. It may have less personality than a bag of flour, but it provides a decent spread of features at a reasonable price.

Asus MeMO Pad Smart - Design and Features

The Asus MeMO Pad Smart takes a pragmatic approach to design. Fancy finishes that will impress your fingers cost cash, and therefore this tablet uses simple, no-frills plastic.

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Although the MeMO Pad's bodywork is thankfully free of any creaks or groans that might cause concern over general build quality, the device nonetheless doesn't feel particularly high-end. It’s a self-conscious sacrifice clearly aimed at getting the overal cost of the tablet down, however picking up the MeMO Pad after palming an iPad, the Asus doesn't feel like it's in the same league as Apple's device.

However, the MeMO Pad is neither heavy nor fat. In fact, at 580g and 9.9mm thick, its dimensions are similar to more expensive tablets. Aside from a lack of flair, there’s nothing wrong with the bodywork.

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Asus is renowned for making products that techies love, and the connectivity of the Asus MeMO Pad Smart is no different. It employs a microUSB port rather than a proprietary one, and also has a dedicated microHDMI video output as well as a microSD card slot. None are executed with much fuss – there are no flaps and no attempt to hide these sockets – but it’s still a techy box-ticking exercise that many will appreciate. Asus MeMO Pad Smart 10 5

The dedication to providing features often missing from lower-cost tablets continues with the stereo speakers. The two speaker grilles are located on the back of the tablet and produce better sound dispersal than a mono tablet when held in landscape – the usual orientation for movie-watching. The only serious omission is 3G, although this would, of course, push up the overall price of the tablet and no doubt lift it out of the out of the “budget” bracket.

To do that would effectively be game over for the Asus MeMO Pad Smart’s chances of getting a decent audience. NFC is missing too, and while it could be argued that's a future-proofing opportunity missed on the part of Asus, for the majority of users it will be no great loss.

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As a lower-cost tablet, the Asus MeMO Pad Smart 10 predictably comes with 16GB of internal memory – the least usually seen in a 10-inch tablet.

This is a mercenary tablet in many respects. Its design is entirely vanilla, from the chunky bezel, the lack of style tweaks – or style full stop – to the generic-feeling construction. If you care about these kinds of things, you’re looking at the wrong tablet. Practicality and flexibility are key values for the Asus MeMO Pad Smart, not fluffy stuff like how the thing looks or feels. In a way, that's actually quite admirable.

Asus MeMO Pad Smart - Screen

While we can just about live with the utilitarian design, the screen specifications are less easy to stomach. That's primarily because, at just 1,280 x 800-pixels, the MeMO Pad's 10-inch IPS screen feels more like a throwback to something you'd find on a 2011 or 2012 tablet.

That said, IPS (In-Plane Switching) is a great panel technology that quickly became the standard screen tech for tablets after it was used in the first iPad. It offers great viewing angles, which are much more important in a tablet than, say, a laptop.

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The MeMO Pad's IPS screen delivers these impressive viewing angles too, but otherwise the display is not all that hot. It looks a little washed out, and often severely blown-out at top brightness. Now that we’ve been spoilt by high pixel density tablets like the Google Nexus 10, the relatively low-resolution screen here appears a little rough and pixelated.

The MeMO Pad uses the same resolution as the smaller, 7-inch Google Nexus 7, however 10.1-inches is a little too far to stretch this resolution over these days.

It also lacks an oleophobic coating, something that reduces the appearance of fingerprint smudges – an unavoidable by-product of touch-screen technology. After using the MeMO Pad for only a few minutes, the tablet becomes covered in mushed fingerprints, which are quite visible in strong light. An oleophobic finish is more-or-less taken for granted in more expensive tablets, but take it away and you’ll certainly miss it.

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Asus MeMO Pad Smart - Interface, Performance

The Asus MeMO Pad Smart runs on Android's 4.1 Jelly Bean OS with minor Asus adjustments. These are largely based around the presence of additional apps though, rather than dramatic changes to the user interface.

Asus has supplied a few visual tweaks though. The icons in the navigation bar have been redesigned, and as standard the Asus MeMO Pad Smart has a snazzy Asus weather and clock widget on its lead home screen. The only functional change to the way you use the tablet is a navigation bar lock switch right in the middle of the navigation bar. This disables the other navigation bar buttons, so you don’t accidentally press them.

Asus has also inserted its own virtual keyboard. It’s more colourful than the standard one, and has a slightly different layout that packs more keys on to the screen, but is it a winner? Not particularly – it lacks Swype-style gesture input and any dynamic word completion. However, when it’s so easy to switch to another keyboard, and the standard Android one comes pre-installed, it barely matters.

We like Asus’s approach to Android customisation in the MeMO Pad Smart. The light nature of the tweaks, and the use of the speedy Jelly Bean version of Android means the tablet runs at a fair old lick. It uses a quad-core Tegra T33 1.2GHz chip, the same found in the Google Nexus 7. It’s slower than the quad-core Krait processors found in many of 2013’s phones and tablets, but the difference will only be particularly noticeable in high-end games.

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For example, while Real Racing 3 plays just fine on the MeMO Pad Smart 10, the frame rate appeared lower than the same game running on an iPad 4 - despite the iPad's increased screen resolution. That said, while we have complained about the limited screen resolution here, it is precisely this that should keep high-end games running fairly well for a while to come. Rendering more pixels requires more power.

99tollap

March 31, 2013, 1:33 pm

The 16gb version sells for £250, but crucially has expandable memory.

The 16gb version of the Nexus 10 sells for £320. That's a big difference. And let's be quite honest about the screen, that resolution was typical of 15 inch laptops for years and no one complained that much. I can't really see how in every day use anyone's going to care that much about that resolution on a 10 inch screen.

I'd still buy the Nexus over this, but only so I get instant upgrades to the latest version of Android.

caeser

April 25, 2013, 4:15 pm

Hi, i bought a memopad 7" about 2 months ago. recently found that even if i fully charge the tablet in the morning, the battery is almost flat when i come home from work in the evening. can someone help me what to do?

primula monkey

May 2, 2013, 8:22 pm

Oh dear its another Andrew Williams review, which usually means the bigger the tablet's marketing budget and the better the distribution arrangements, the better the review. Hence, Mr Williams says this about the Nexus 7

"Made by Asus, the Nexus 7 takes a few pointers from the company's
Transformer range of tablets. In particular, the brown/black rear and
its textured rubberised plastic finish wouldn't look at all out of place
as part of that series.

Splashed with the Nexus and Asus logos,the Google Nexus 7 tablet is not quite an Apple-grade thing of beauty, but the dotted rear makes it feel almost leather-bound, rather than encased in plastic, as it actually is".

This about the KIndle Fire HD 8.9 "The rear of the Kindle Fire HD 8.9 is finished in soft-touch plastic for a finger-friendly feel, and the body feels dense and strong,"

But, this about the Asus memo pad "The Asus MeMO Pad Smart takes a pragmatic approach to design. Fancy finishes that will impress your fingers cost cash, and therefore this tablet uses simple, no-frills plastic" and "The only serious omission is 3G," ?????

i.e. the more likely you are to find it in PC World, the better the review.

Lamar Smith

May 7, 2013, 6:55 am

I don't know what world you live in but in my world. The Nexus 10 isn't $50 more than the MeMo Pad 10. The Nexus 10 cost $399-$499 (depending on where you shop) compared to the MeMo pad running from $279-$299. A huge difference in price if you ask me. Also the screen resolution isn't as bad as you make it out to be. It is one of the best in it's price range only matched by the Samsung 2 10.1 tablet.

freedda

March 11, 2014, 9:15 am

I bought the memo 10 fhd tablet a few months ago and have increasingly grown to dislike it, instead of liking it more, as is the case with my nexus 7. The frustrations:

* the sound is muddled and when I plug into external powered speakers, the tablets volume drops and can't be turned past two thirds. The sound coming from the speakers is muddled too.

* i dislike the keyboard input. The word choices with the auto-correct/auto- guess functions are wonky at best: it never capitalizes i when i enter i, it cant recognize cant, and wont recognize ...you get the idea. The nexus 7 recognizes all of these.

* asus support is crap. I reported the volume issue and the best they could offer is that i reset my device or put in another request.

All things considered, i should have just waited for the new nexus 10 to come out.

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