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To some extent, ASUS is a sufferer of its own success: it gave the price range pill category a boost with the original Nexus 7, and it now faces a legion of competitors in that space. The company is taking a two-step approach to sustaining its relevance. The brand new Nexus 7 tackles the upper finish, with high-tier specs that embody a 1080p show and wireless charging. Proper now, although, we're extra concerned with ASUS' low-end resolution, the MeMo Pad HD 7. Whereas it is one of the cheaper identify-model tablets at $150, it promises a few of the quality we sometimes expect from dearer products. But is the HD 7 good enough to fend off different entry-degree tablets? And might it entice prospects who'd be keen to pay the premium for a new Nexus 7'? Despite its identify, the MeMo Pad HD 7 bears little in widespread with the older 7-inch MeMo Pad. The nondescript black front and curvy profile are familiar, but ASUS has replaced the textured backing with a smooth surface that's both matte on the dark blue model, or glossy on the inexperienced, pink and white versions. Consider getting the HD 7 in white if you want to keep it fairly -- the again is vulnerable to exhibiting fingerprints and other smudges. ASUS' build quality is reasonably stable too, though some slight creaking under pressure is enough to remind us that is an entry-degree product we're dealing with. The HD 7 is comfy to carry, with loads of grip and a average weight of 10.7 ounces (303.3g). It is also a compact gadget at 7.7 inches tall and 4.7 inches huge. That said, its 0.43-inch thickness makes it as chunky as the old Nexus 7 or the Hisense Sero 7 Pro. A closer inspection reveals some conspicuous improvements to the MeMo Pad formula. The 1.2-megapixel front camera and left-aspect microSDHC slot stay in largely familiar places, but there's now a barely protruding 5-megapixel digital camera (albeit without a flash) on the back. ASUS has replaced the small mono speaker with a larger stereo unit. Curiously, ASUS has moved the micro-USB port from the underside to the highest, subsequent to the headphone jack and microphone; equipment made for the sooner MeMo Pad may not work here. It is best to discover a fundamental stand within the box, though. We're not massive fans of the buttons. Like its sibling, the MeMo Pad HD 7 puts the facility button and quantity rocker on a again nook. They're easy to succeed in, but they're both hidden from sight and nearly flat, making them laborious to determine by feel. Even now, we still occasionally should double-verify what we're about to press to keep away from inadvertently placing the tablet to sleep. You additionally will not find many luxuries past the ones we have already talked about to this point. The HD 7 covers primary wireless with dual-band 802.11n WiFi and Bluetooth 4.Zero LE, however there is not any NFC. There's also no hardware-based video out, whether or not via HDMI (as on the Sero 7 Professional), MHL or SlimPort. ASUS does provide Miracast wireless display assist as a consolation prize, nonetheless, so these with suitably trendy TVs can skip the wires altogether. Like the earlier MeMo Pad, there's 16GB of built-in storage in the US model, 11.8GB of which is usable. When tablet designers need to chop corners, display quality is ceaselessly the primary to go. Exhibit A: the lackluster display screen on the HP Slate 7. Thankfully, the MeMo Pad HD 7 does not fall into that lure. ASUS is utilizing an IPS 1,280 x 800 LCD that produces accurate colors and very extensive viewing angles. The panel is even shiny enough to make use of outdoors in some situations. There's no question that we would notice the Nexus 7's larger decision in a direct comparability, however the HD 7's show is more than crisp enough for books, games and motion pictures. There are a couple of quirks. Black ranges aren't superb; you are extra likely to see darkish grey than black in poorer lighting. The entrance glass can also be glossier than we're used to, which did not assist our attempts to learn near a window, or outdoors on a sunny day. Even so, the HD 7's screen does not feel like a significant compromise. Sound from the pill isn't quite so spectacular. The speakers are loud and largely distortion-free at excessive volumes, however their bass output won't compete with HTC's BoomSound. Moreover, having both speakers so close to one another negates the advantages of stereo separation; you won't hear panning effects or the digital surround sound of the Nexus 7. It is simple to partly obscure the speakers in the course of an enthusiastic gameplay session, for that matter. We'll still take the HD 7 over rivals with single-channel sound. It simply seems like a missed alternative, particularly when the Nexus 7's audio is so nicely completed. The MeMo Pad HD 7 faces an immediate drawback on the software front. It's delivery with Android 4.2.1 on the very second that another ASUS pill -- you guessed it, the Nexus 7 -- is launching with Android 4.3. Whereas the brand new OS would not characterize a night time-and-day expertise, it does supply perks like visitor profiles, better OS-level Bluetooth assist and modular DRM that enables for 1080p Netflix streaming. Not that we thoughts much. The new MeMo Pad largely echoes the PadFone Infinity's delicate steadiness between stock Android and useful customizations. Google's minimalist interface persists in the house screen, app tray and multitasking, however there's numerous useful ASUS-made features hiding just beneath the surface. The notification bar consists of a quick Settings section to vary display brightness, wireless options and different fundamentals. Long-press the home button and you'll get shortcuts to each core features and favourite apps. Pinch the home display and there's entry to house display screen profiles. ASUS also has one of the higher mini-app implementations we've seen; it reserves a dedicated navigation key for access to tiny tools like a browser, calendar and video participant. The HD 7's software is not fairly a one-for-one copy of what we saw in the PadFone, nevertheless. Hardware-specific options like Dynamic Display are gone, as you'd think about, however we also noticed that Google Now's voice search has changed the sub-par ASUS Echo. Enhancements are few, and principally come from the Android 4.2 refresh. Miracast sharing and lock display widgets are Google's responsibility; ASUS, meanwhile, introduces both a wallpaper settings shortcut in the lock display screen in addition to the choice to make use of Google's inventory notification bar. Some 4.2 features are sadly missing, reminiscent of Photograph Sphere or Swype-inspired typing. All the identical, we're happy with the new MeMo Pad's interface, which comes throughout because the refined refinement of a successful system. Out of the field, the US variant of the HD 7 carries a largely acquainted first-party app structure. Among the many more sensible instruments, AudioWizard and ASUS Splendid let users customize their sound and video profiles; ASUS Studio and ASUS Story organize photos and create photo collages; ASUS Artist presents fundamental drawing; MyLibrary gives a house for generic e-books; AppBackup and AppLocker keep app data safe and safe; ASUS To-Do, MyBitCast and SuperNote carry both reminders and media-enhanced notes. They're straightforward to make use of and useful in the precise situations, although we only seldomly had use for them ourselves. We now have combined thoughts on BuddyBuzz and ASUS WebStorage, though. BuddyBuzz's social network aggregation is more reliable than the final time we tried it, but it surely nonetheless has much less performance than the dedicated apps for each service. Our US test unit also preserves support for providers that are extra popular in China, similar to Plurk, Renren and Sina Weibo. As for ASUS WebStorage? We like the service's free cloud house (16GB for one yr, 5GB after), backup functions and collaborative Office enhancing -- it's simply nothing special. Options like Google Drive and SkyDrive offer related cloud performance with out being tied to 1 hardware vendor. There are a few apps that have not made the lower in the American model of the HD 7. It lacks the previously mentioned ASUS Echo in addition to Birthday Reminder, PinPal (another social networking aggregator) and Watch Calendar. ASUS not directly compensates for those titles' absences by throwing in DRM support for primarily US-oriented streaming video providers resembling HBO Go, Hulu Plus and Netflix. Combined with the included Amazon Kindle and Zinio apps, there's enough to get house owners began with out overwhelming them or chewing up too much free space. MeMo Pad HD 7 doesn't do a lot to improve their reputation. Just like the Nexus 7, the 5-megapixel, f/2.Four rear camera can produce sharp photographs with vivid colours, but only if all the stars align; you'll need reasonably shiny gentle, a low-contrast background and a gradual-transferring topic. Life solely sometimes supplies these circumstances, of course, and most of our pictures fall wanting these from cameras on premium-priced tablets, like the Galaxy Note 8.0 or iPad mini. We most frequently observed the poor dynamic range, as the MeMo Pad tends to blow out highlights (equivalent to brilliant skies) and would not extract much detail from shadows. The tablet has a tendency to scrub out colours in these situations, too. Whereas there may be autofocus, it occasionally misses a prominent subject and requires a tap to get a proper lock. Reasonably fast subjects are inclined to blur. And you will need to rule out low-light photography in general: shots are noisy, and there isn't any flash (like on the Sero 7 Professional) to bail you out. We did get some good pictures, primarily up-close, but it's clear that the rear digicam is more a bonus than a promoting level. The entrance 1.2-megapixel, f/2.4 digital camera faces comparable problems, though it is more forgivable given the lower customary for entrance cams. It is only actually current for the sake of video chats and the occasional selfie, and it does an enough job so long as you are not making an attempt to host Google Hangouts at the hours of darkness. ASUS' digicam software partly compensates for the lackluster output. The shot-to-shot instances are relatively quick in good lighting, and it is attainable to shoot nonetheless images while capturing video. While customization is essentially restricted to fundamentals like publicity, ISO sensitivity and white balance, it is easy to search out and alter these settings on the fly. Our chief gripe is with the comparatively crude approaches to particular options: the high dynamic range mode overcompensates for darkish subjects and produces a "burnt" look, while panoramas can appear slightly jagged. If there's a powerful level to the tablet's digicam system, it's video. Recognized image high quality issues apart, the HD 7 captures 1080p video at a 18Mbps bitrate -- a lot higher than the Nexus 7's 12Mbps, and enough to supply sharp footage worthy of the "HD" label. You do have to look at how quickly you pan the digicam, though. The wobble of the rolling shutter effect is visible should you spin the digital camera too rapidly, and the HD 7 would not all the time refocus correctly when subject distances change. Let's get the plain comparison out of the best way: the MeMo Pad HD 7's quad-core, 1.2GHz MediaTek MT8125 processor is not any match for the 1.5GHz Snapdragon S4 Professional in the Nexus 7. Paying further for Google's official tablet gets you much better efficiency throughout the board, especially in net searching and graphics. Although some would lump both units into the entry-stage class, they're finally in numerous leagues. So how does the HD 7 fare towards its more direct opponents, then? That is a harder call. It is sooner than the twin-core Slate 7 in most respects, but it's typically outpaced by Tegra 3-primarily based tablets like the Sero 7 Professional. Get a load of that browsing efficiency within the SunSpider test, though: whether or not we used Chrome or the plain Browser app, the new MeMo Pad was noticeably faster than equally priced challengers. There weren't vital efficiency points generally use, both. Though we caught the very occasional stutter throughout an interface transition, the device did not feel overburdened, even when operating mini-apps alongside their full-dimension siblings. Simply do not choose up the MeMo Pad if you are a gamer. Its variant on Imagination Technologies' PowerVR SGX544MP graphics is not up to snuff for the latest 3D titles. Whereas an older sport like Riptide GP runs smoothly, fashionable releases like Real Racing 3 barely achieve playable frame charges. Though we weren't expecting a visual powerhouse, it is clear that the equally priced Sero 7 Professional is a greater decide if you are willing to make a number of sacrifices for some extra 3D prowess. ASUS makes up for that deficiency by means of battery life. The company estimates 10 hours of runtime from the MeMo Pad HD 7's 15Wh battery, and indeed, our unit was virtually precisely on goal. Our battery rundown take a look at, which involves looping a 1080p video with the brightness set to 50 %, ran for 9 hours and fifty six minutes. That's longer than each small tablet we have tried in need of the iPad mini. It is also far ahead of the brand new Nexus 7, but there's a obligatory disclaimer right here: the Nexus has a decidedly brighter LCD, so it may be using more backlight vitality at the identical setting. Suffice to say that the real-world longevity is at least as good. We managed a full day of intensive use that included shopping, social networking, snapping just a few dozen images and recording 5 brief movies. Less demanding house owners can get away with nearer to a day and a half of frequent use, and we suspect that after-a-day customers might go per week between prime-ups. It is just as well that the MeMo Pad lasts so long, because it takes 4 hours to recharge from empty. We mentioned earlier that the MeMo Pad HD 7 and Nexus 7 don't really exist in the same category, but we also know that some customers will invariably examine the two. And we'll be trustworthy: if you'll be able to afford the $230-plus for the Nexus 7, you will probably be happier with that in the long run. It is quicker, carries an distinctive display, runs Android 4.3 and has options for both 32GB of constructed-in storage and LTE. Its software program upgrade technique can even enchantment to some. As a Nexus gadget, it's more likely to get updates each sooner and across an extended time frame. Regardless of ASUS' good popularity for upgrading its non-Nexus units in a timely vogue, there's little doubt that Google's flagship will get those updates first. The MeMo Pad does not just have a price advantage: each microSD storage and software program customizations work in its favor. It's not a transparent-minimize victory for the Nexus, mind you. The MeMo Pad doesn't just have a value benefit: both microSD storage and software program customizations work in its favor. In the event you repeatedly swap reminiscence cards or favor ASUS' modifications to Android, there isn't any direct substitute for those options. The cheaper tablet even outperforms its counterpart in video recording, though we wouldn't purchase it solely for that reason. There's additionally the query of the return on investment. If you don't plan to do greater than read e-books, test Fb or watch the occasional YouTube video, the Nexus 7 may be overkill. As you'll have gathered from the review thus far, we see the $150 Sero 7 Professional as probably the most straight comparable opponent. Hisense ships it with a paltry 8GB of constructed-in capability, however it's otherwise a strong contender between its quicker graphics and the inclusion of perks like HDMI, microSD growth and a digicam flash. Those that would favor to get closer to inventory Android may also get their repair here. If you are not huge on gaming, although, the MeMo Pad is arguably the better buy with its elevated storage and longer battery life. If anyone walks out of this combat with a black eye, it is HP and Samsung. The Slate 7 is a tad cheaper at $140, however it is up to now behind on show high quality, performance and storage that we won't honestly suggest it. In the meantime, the $200 Galaxy Tab 3 7.Zero is just too costly. You'd need to be a devoted fan of Samsung's TouchWiz interface to choose the Galaxy Tab over the cheaper, more powerful MeMo Pad. New Nexus 7 vs. Make no mistake: ASUS is not working miracles. The MeMo Pad HD 7's combined efficiency, mediocre cameras and minor design points remind us that the tablet is constructed to succeed in a sure price point. If you are searching for the most effective that ASUS has to supply this 12 months, you may still need to contemplate the Nexus 7 or look ahead to the Transformer Pad Infinity. Nonetheless, we will not assist but suppose that the company has delivered a nice surprise. The HD 7's battery life, show, software and storage are all above-common within the price range realm; for $150, ASUS' pill provides an experience that some corporations cannot handle in devices that price $200 or more. There's a good likelihood that some will want the Sero 7 Pro's processor or Samsung's acquainted software program, but the remainder of us ought to be well-served by what the MeMo Pad HD 7 has to offer. Edgar Alvarez contributed to this assessment. All merchandise advisable by Engadget are chosen by our editorial workforce, independent of our mother or father firm. Some of our stories embrace affiliate links. If you buy one thing by way of one of these links, we might earn an affiliate commission.

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