Asus MemoPad HD 7
Asus may be busy pumping out all the Google Nexus 7 tablets it can muster right now, but they're not the only Android-powered slates it's been working on. Enter the Asus MemoPad HD 7, an even cheaper seven-inch machine running Google's hit mobile operating system. Is it value for money though, or should you stretch a bit more for the Nexus 7's amazing full HD display? We fired one up to find out.
For some inexplicable reason, the industry has decided as a general rule that all tablets should look like a boring black plastic photo frame. Thankfully, Asus is going against convention with the Asus MemoPad HD 7, and injecting a bit of colour into its wares: it comes in white, pink, blue and green hues, and we were quite taken with the lime shade of our review unit. It's sturdily built, and at 10.8mm thick, actually not all that chunky for a cheap seven-inch tablet.
To our surprise, Android itself whizzed along on the quad-core 1.2GHz processor with no sign of lag: videos look great on the 1280x800 HD screen, even if the newer Nexus 7 now offers a much sharper full HD display that makes text look gorgeous too. Google's software itself meanwhile is app-packed (with more than a million now available to download on Google Play) and easy to use. While the MemoPad may only come with 16GB of storage, you can always add more with a memory card, and Asus provides another 16GB of cloud storage for free that you can access wherever there's Wi-Fi.
The Asus MemoPad 7 is built perfectly adequately - which is all you can ask for in the budget category - but it is let down slightly by its software. It's one version out of date, but more importantly, because it isn't a Google Nexus family member, it's not guaranteed to get prompt updates in the future when they do either. Some of Asus' additions to vanilla Android as well aren't entirely welcome: its BuddyBuzz app is a terrible way to view your Facebook and Twitter feeds, and its default keyboard is even worse. Be sure to install an alternative such as Google's own free keyboard or SwiftKey immediately.
As so often is the case however, cost is also an issue. The Asus MemoPad HD 7 sits in a narrow price band all of its own: priced at £129.99, it's only £20 cheaper than last year's Google Nexus 7, which runs a newer version of Android (4.3 Jelly Bean), and £70 less than the all-singing, all-dancing 2013 model, which you should really stretch to if you can. There are cheaper options on the table still too: the Nook HD runs an older version of Android (4.0), but packs a substantially sharper screen and £99 price tag. It's hard to justify the MemoPad between them.