Review Price £330.00
Most tablets of the past 18 months haven't sold as well as their manufacturers expected, leading to drastic price drops of products like the BlackBerry PlayBook and, most notably, the HP Touchpad. Part of the reason for disappointing sales in almost all cases was quite how high the retail price was in the first place. Due to sell for around £330, Huawei's MediaPad undercuts some of its rivals, but is it cheap enough to attract a crowd around such a little-known name as Huawei?
Huawei says that its strategy is to appeal to buyers other than the affluent male demographic that has made up a large proportion of tablet users to date - including plenty of female buyers. It's not pink, thankfully, but is smaller than most Android tabs. It has a 7in screen, rather than the 10.1in screen used by the majority of Android Honeycomb devices.
There's a natural assumption that something smaller will offer less power, but not so here. The Huawei MediaPad features a 1.2GHz dual-core processor and 1GB of RAM, which should make it at least as powerful as Tegra 2 models such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1.
The size does help it shave off a lot of weight, though. At 390g, that it's significantly lighter than larger tablets is immediately obvious. The large widescreens and 600g-plus weight of 10.1in tablets tends to make them feel unwieldy, and by comparison the MediaPad feels very comfortable, petite and lightweight enough to hold comfortably in one hand for extended periods.
Its metal-bodied construction also helps to make it feel great in-hand. Most of the back is anodised aluminium, which offers a reassuring hardness that plastic can't hope to replicate - without adding too much bulk or weight. It has that premium feel missing from the one 7in Honeycomb tablet we've tested to date, the Acer Iconia A100.
Huawei's claims of innovation are perhaps over-egging it, though. The design is clearly indebted to the iPhone 4 and iPad (primarily the first one), going as far as to include little black lines on the side that mimic the antennae indicators of the iPhone 4S.
However, the back design reminds more of HTC's phones, such as the HTC Salsa and HTC Legend. There are two plastic cutaways, the bottom of which can be removed to reveal the microSD card slot and the 3G SIM slot. Not all MediaPads will allow 3G, and the £330 price quoted is for the Wi-Fi only model, which has 4GB of internal memory.
Something of a copycat it may be, but at least it pinches inspiration from some good-looking devices - and at 10.5mm thick it's slim enough to claim ultra-thin cred. While no 7in tablets have been roaring successes yet, we still believe in the form factor. It's large enough to make web browsing much more pleasurable than on a mobile phone, and yet small enough to be fully portable - which 10.1in tablets arguably are not.
On its sides are a micro HDMI port, 3.5mm headphone jack, microUSB and a dedicated power jack. As yet, we're not sure if it allows charging over microUSB. But what is it like to use?
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