With a high-res screen and a bargain price, has Asus' non-Google branded Memo Pad HD 7 got what it takes to overthrow its bigger brother?
While Google may take the headlines for the Nexus 7 tablet, it is in fact manufactured by Asus - the company also behind the Asus Memo Pad HD7. Costing just £129.99, the Memo Pad HD 7 is priced way below similar screen-size rival the iPad Mini. While still being a lot cheaper than the Amazon Kindle Fire HD and the new Nexus 7 2.
Asus Memo Pad HD 7: Size and build
Often with cheaper tablets, the screen resolution is the first thing to be slashed. The Memo Pad HD 7, however, retains a relatively sharp and crisp display, while also feeling sturdy in the hand. It may not have the industrial design of Apple's iPad Mini, yet its plastic shell by no means feels cheap.
It's also made in a variety of colours, adding in another element unavailable on fellow slates. Vivid shades of pink and green, along with more conventional blue, white and grey are all available and they look great - we wish this was more of a common thing as we're all getting a bit tired of black and occasionally white.
The Memo Pad HD 7 weighs in at 302g, slightly heavier than the Nexus 7 (290g), but lighter than the iPad Mini which weighs 312g. Dimensions-wise Asus' tab measures 196.8 x 120.6 x 10.8 mm, comparing to the 200 x 134.7 x 7.2 mm of the iPad Mini and 114 x 200 x 8.65 mm of the Nexus 7.
While the Asus Memo Pad HD 7 feels good to hold - especially in one hand, there are certain design quirks that don't quite work. For one, the quality of the side buttons is just bad. They're far too hard to press, often taking multiple attempts and even in some cases having to move the device to properly press them.
Another annoyance is the placement of the micro-USB port, which sits atop the tablet rather than on the bottom. Nokia did a similar thing with the Nokia Lumia 925 and it feels awkward when using the device while it's plugged in.
If you're looking for a media consumption tablet, or a way to enter the Android ecosystem without splashing a load of cash, the Asus Memo Pad HD 7 could be a decent choice.
Asus Memo Pad HD 7: Features
While the display is probably the headline feature here, the Memo Pad HD 7 has a few other tricks up its colourful sleeve.
There's 16GB of internal storage, which can be upped by a further 32GB through Micro SD expansion. It seems fewer and fewer tablets are coming with a card slot these days and it's great to see Asus including one here.
Around the back is a 5-megapixel shooter, which takes decent snaps but we wouldn't recommend relying on it for capturing your summer holiday. Video chat and selfies are also taken care of thanks to 1.2-megapixel front-facing camera.
Asus Memo Pad HD 7: Screen
The 7-inch HD IPS screen is definitely a surprise, especially for a bargain tablet like this. At a resolution of 1280 x 800, it by no means stands up against the beautiful displays of the Nexus 7 2 or iPad 4, however, it is more impressive than that of the current iPad Mini and on a par with the Amazon Kindle Fire HD.
Text is crisp, which is great when you're reading a book, while videos look good too. Sometimes the colours are a bit dull, with bright shades in particular looking washed-out and lacking a bit of oomph.
It isn't great in sunlight either, with fingerprints almost instantly covering everything; so best to find a shady spot if you're out and about.
Asus Memo Pad HD 7: Performance
Packed behind the plastic shell is a quad-core 1.2GHz processor, paired with 1GB RAM. For the most part the device is speedy - scrolling is smooth and if all you do is check some emails, browse Chrome and dabble in a spot of Angry Birds, you'll rarely feel a slow down.
More intensive games, like Real Racing 3, perform worse, with frequent lag becoming fairly common.
Running Android Jelly Bean 4.2.2, Asus has kept a fairly stock look and feel. There are a few added apps; to control specific sound settings and the like but these are rarely needed.
Asus Memo Pad HD 7: Battery
The battery on the Memo Pad HD 7 lasted for around 9-10 hours - plenty for lasting the working day or if you're flying to the States, however a few times when the tablet was left unused overnight, the amount of juice left had substantially depleted.
There's no nifty wireless charging tech here, just the standard micro-USB port.
Asus Memo Pad HD 7: Verdict
Asus' Memo Pad HD 7 definitely lacks that special something, both in design and overall feature set, when compared to the company's collaboration with Google, the new Nexus 7 2. However with such a low price tag, a decent screen and plenty of power for the average user, the Memo Pad HD 7 is an Android tablet that can easily be recommended.
Asus Memo Pad HD 7 release date: 1 September 2013
Asus Memo Pad HD 7 Price: £129.99