Asus Memo Pad Smart 10
Meet the Asus Memo Pad Smart 10, one of a new breed of full size, full fat and low priced Android tablets. With a 10.1-inch display, Android “Jelly Bean” and a nippy Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core processor, it can handle just about all the apps and games you can throw at it - but it costs just £229.99, a price that only tablets like Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD 8.9 have managed to hit, and that’s with the online retail giant absorbing some of the manufacturing costs. So is there a catch? We fired up the Memo Pad to find out.
From a distance, you’d be forgiven for thinking the Asus Memo Pad Smart 10 was an iPad - it’s a thin, sturdy light frame with a large screen as the centrepiece. In some ways though, it has advantages over the iPad: you can pop in a micro SD card to add to the 16GB of memory, and even hook it up to a TV via HDMI, no expensive Lightning adapter required.
Android itself holds few surprises at this point: it’s fast, with hundreds of thousands of apps to download, and Asus hasn’t changed the core, clean Google experience much. That’s an important distinction as Amazon’s similarly priced Kindle Fire HD runs a heavily modified version of Google’s operating system which lacks access to Google’s Play store, and useful apps like Google Maps and Gmail, and a selling point for Asus. It runs buttery smooth too, handling games and HD video with ease.
Out of the box, the Smart 10 runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean, but an update to Android 4.2 is rolling out now, and you can install it when prompted. That’s great news, as 4.2 is a particularly useful update for tablets since it allows for multiple log-ins and accounts so all the family can use one device like a PC - and one that’s already available on Asus’ own Nexus 7 tablet. It’s still pretty rare on high end tablets, never mind budget ones, so it’s refreshing to see it on here.
It goes with the territory, but as solid as the Asus Memo Pad Smart 10 is, it’s also a bit bland. The plastic finish won’t wow you like the cool metal of an iPad chassis - it just gets the job done.
Likewise, the 1280x800 resolution screen - though bright and capable of playing 720p HD videos - isn’t the sharpest we’ve ever laid eyes on. The fourth-generation iPad and Samsung’s Nexus 10 are much easier on the eye for reading and browsing the web, but they’ll also set you back a lot more. The cameras too - 1.2MP front, 5MP back - are nothing to write home about either, stuffed with noise as they are. But hey, when has taking photos on a tablet ever been practical?
Lastly, you need to consider whether the Smart’s wide 16:9 screen aspect ratio is what you need. If you’re an iPad user used to using a squatter 4:3 tablet portrait style, you won’t like how narrow the Memo Pad Smart 10 seems held the same way - but if you’re all about the widescreen video watching, it’ll suit you down to the ground.