Asus MeMO Pad HD 7 Review, A low-cost tablet

The MeMO Pad is built by Asus, just as the Nexus 7 is, but it is a very different tablet. That device has Google’s guiding hands all over it; this one doesn’t and it shows. That it runs a not-quite-up-todate Android 4.2 is not a problem. The problem is that the OS has been skinned in a not altogether tasteful way. Initially it seems almost stock, but swipe down from the top of the screen and you’ll fi nd a badly skinned notifi cation pane that ditches Android’s tasteful monochrome style in favour of at least three different shades of blue and a load of gaudy icons.

The navigation bar has also had its icons redesigned, with an additional one shoehorned in on the left that enables you to open a series of mini apps on top of the one you’re currently using. We’ve seen the idea elsewhere – Sony is another company that does it – and we like it. A good selection of apps are supported, including a calculator and video player, and other than it taking longer to load it works well. The MeMO Pad is packed with extra apps that can be disabled but not uninstalled. You could download most of them, or better equivalents, from the Play store if you wanted them – the Kindle app, a to-do list tool, a social messaging app and so on. Among the more unique of the extras is Asus Splendid, an app that enables you to change the colour temperature of the screen. It’s interesting to play with for a while, but we do wonder how many people would actually care about the display enough to use it properly.

The lack of refi nement in the software is refl ected in the hardware too. It feels like a more plastic version of the original Nexus 7. It’s thick, and although it is actually lighter than the Kindle Fire, it feels heavier. The back cover is a hard glossy plastic, available in multiple colours. It looks okay but does scuff up easily. The screen and performance were fi ne, although with budget-minded specs it doesn’t stand up to being pushed too hard.