The Huawei MediaPad, like all Android Honeycomb devices, does not feature masses of user interface customisation – Google doesn’t let the manufacturers fiddle with it that much. There’s also an unusual paucity of pre-installed apps, and none of them are Huawei’s.
Aside from the standard Google apps, the MediaPad offers, Facebook, Twitter, Gameloft’s Let’s Golf and Documents to Go. Any of these could be downloaded from the Android Market, which is built into the device, but they do at least represent a few of the most likely initial downloads for many.
What are we missing out on? A DLNA interface, a custom media player, and a cloud storage app. Do we miss them much? Not really. Manufacturers’ own additions are rarely must-haves.
What’s much more important in a tablet is ace-ing the screen. The MediaPad has. It uses an IPS panel, which is the same tech used in the iPad 2, providing excellent viewing angles and vivid colours. At the hands-on event, lighting conditions were pretty awful for screen testing, but first impressions were good.
Although only 7in across, it uses the same resolution as its larger rivals – 1280×800 pixels. This offers a very sharp image at this size, with 216dpi pixel density. That’s a lot less than the Retina Display screens of the iPod touch and iPhone 4S, but it thrashes the 131dpi of the iPad and 149dpi of all the 10.1in Honeycomb tablets.
What we really want to know, and don’t yet, is how good the MediaPad will be at playing video. Its name suggests it’ll be a cracker, but we have doubts as to whether it’ll play any more than the Android standards of H.264 and MP4 – especially given how little emphasis is put on additional app functionality here. Huawei claims it’ll be able to play 1080p video, but this means little when we don’t know whether it’ll play download-favourites like MKV and DivX. Our survey says – not likely. In its favour, the micro HDMI will let you output the video signal to a television.