Can Intel’s new Bay Trail-based tablet take over the budget slate market? Hell Yeah.
Budget Android tablets are a dime a dozen these days, so needless to say, it takes a lot to stand out. In general, sub $150 Android tablets have been poor contenders, that tend to offer subpar specs and subpar performance in exchange for being easy on your wallet. But now that Intel has entered the market with their latest generation Quad Core Atom processor, and pushed it into tablets like the ASUS MeMO Pad 7 (ME176C), it looks like that all may change.
The ASUS MeMO Pad packs in a 7” LED IPS display with a 1280 x 800 resolution. The display is very good with accurate colors and pretty sharp visuals. It’s not the highest res display, and of course it can’t compete with the likes of a Retina display, or even the display on the Google Nexus 7, however, it’s still a very good display and much better than most of the displays you’ll find on a sub $200 tablet. Could it be a bit brighter? Yes. But the truth is that most users will be satisfied with it. And if they long for an even better display, they are probably the type that is going to shell out the extra money for a premium tablet anyway. What is a nice touch though, is that display also sports an Anti-Fingerprint coating that does its job pretty well.
The MeMO Pad 7 weighs just 295g and measures 113.7 x 189.3 x 9.6 mm. It feels good to hold in your hand and offers a nice grip thanks to the its soft touch rubber back finish. It also comes in 5 different colors for its back side. The colors include black, white, red, blue, and yellow. Unfortunately, we tested the more ordinary black model, but those other colors certainly look like they pop.
When it comes to wireless standards, this tablet is no slouch either – it packs in support for Miracast and aptX CSR Bluetooth technologies. It also packs in GPS and all sorts of sensors you could want in a tablet. On the digital imaging front, you’re getting a 2 MP Front Camera and a 5 MP Rear Camera with Auto focus and 1080p video recording. The cameras are pretty good, especially for a tablet in their price point. This is likely do to Asus’s PixelMaster technology.
When it comes to performance, the system is powered by Intel’s latest crop of Atom processors – specifically an Intel Atom Z3745 1.86 GHz Quad-Core CPU. We were blown away by the benchmark results we saw under Quadrant – the tablet earned a score of 18115, and 12944 with smart saving turned on. That is an incredibly high score for a tablet in this price range. But beyond benchmarks, the tablet feels smooth to operate and handles apps, multitasking and multimedia all very smoothly. Again, this is pretty much not what we’re used to seeing from a budget tablet. The system also packs in 16GB of internal storage which can be expanded easily via its Micro SD card slot.
The MeMO Pad 7 comes running Android 4.4 KitKat, which is again, a nice touch since so many budget tablets tend to run older, antiquated versions of Android. The tablet is also sporting the ASUS ZenUI which adds hundreds of refinements to KitKat. Purists might disagree, but we really appreciate Acer’s additions to the Android tablet U.I. since most of the additions tend to be very useful yet pretty minimalist. For example, they have improved the onscreen keyboard, refined the tray controls, added a smart save feature, and redesigned the start screen so that it offers a convenient quick view of your schedule, the weather and time, along with easy shortcuts to the web, your mail and the camera. Furthermore, in general, the ZenUI is well designed. The tablet also comes with 5GB of free storage in ASUS’s cloud storage for life.
It’s hard to believe that a sub $150 tablet can be this good – but it’s true. This is a budget tablet that doesn’t feel like it’s cheap. Sure, it doesn’t feel quite like a premium tablet – it can’t compete with the likes of an iPad Mini, but it knocks the socks off of the budget Android tablets we’re used to seeing and instead feels more like a mid-range tablet. Overall, there have been no real sacrifices made here – you’re getting both a front facing and rear facing camera, solid build quality, a pretty good display, and thanks to Intel’s Bay Trail Atom processor – you’re getting incredible performance too. Overall, the ASUS MeMO Pad 7 (ME176C) offers a super solid value for back to school and it is getting us excited for the other crop of Intel Atom powered devices that are coming out. The tablet is currently available to purchase at Amazon for $149.
The Good:No real compromises yet priced for a budget, top notch performance, Competitively priced, great build quality, fun color choices, packs in both a front facing and rear facing cameras which are pretty good, nice selection of accessories are available for it – including the MagSmart Cover, nice soft touch back finish, battery life is healthy at about 9 hours
The Bad: Wish the display was a bit brighter – but hard to complain at this price point