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.