Need to buy a gift for somebody who loves technology but you can’t afford the big ticket items?
Asus MeMO Pad 8
Asus packs the hardware of a powerful tablet into an 8in, sub-$350 bargain
- Great build quality
- Long-lasting battery life
- No NFC
- No 3G
The Asus MeMO Pad 8 isn’t just another me-too Android tablet. Unique software additives and Asus’ sense of evolving style give it a well defined personality. For its size it packs a hearty hardware punch, and on value it is only surpassed by one other tablet: the Asus-made Nexus 7.
Price$ 329.00 (AUD)
Asus already has a strong line-up of tablets. Not only does it manufacture the widely-praised Nexus 7 with Google, but the company also offers 7in and 10in versions of the MeMO Pad. What can an 8in MeMO Pad offer that its similarly sized siblings can’t?
The MeMO Pad 8 adopts a simplistic design philosophy and it can afford to do so because of its quality materials. It has thin bezels and a screen that sits flush from border to border. There are no buttons on its front — it relies on soft keys for navigation — and you won’t find any blemishes, such as an earpiece. A front-facing camera is symmetrically placed up top, and balancing it out at the bottom is a chrome Asus badge.
On its left side is a volume rocker and a power key, while an expandable microSD slot resides uncovered on its right. The Micro-USB charging port and 3.5mm headphone port can be found up top.
Turn it over and you’ll find a lonely 5MP camera, an Asus badge and a speaker grille, all symmetrically positioned to round off its striking looks.
Is bigger better?
Asus already offers a 7in MeMO Pad, so the question has to be asked: what difference does an inch make? According to Asus’ website, the MeMO Pad 8’s “8-inch display has a 30% larger display area over 7-inch tablets”.
The differences are not just limited to screen real-estate. A closer look at the feature-set of the MeMO Pad 8 reveals it is a powerful tablet crammed into the portable eight-inch form factor, starting with the screen.
The screen has a resolution of 1280x800 pixels, which over the 8in gives the MeMO Pad 8 a healthy pixel density of 189 pixels-per-inch. It uses LED backlighting for colours that pop, and the IPS panel facilitates a wide viewing angle.
It’s a bright 300-nit screen, but the omission of an ambient light sensor means you will have to manually adjust the brightness to suit your environment. Asus has included a brightness slider in the notification window for convenience, and at its maximum setting it is easy enough to interpret the bright display under direct sunlight.
Asus products more often than not have unmistakable character. In the case of the company’s tablets, this is owed to a heavily customised skin overlaid on the Android 4.2 Jelly Bean operating system. In fact, finding a section of the Pad 8’s menu that hasn’t had some work done to it is a tough task, whether the changes are intended to make the software more functional or for the sake of aesthetics.
In addition to the back, home and task-manager on-screen buttons is a ‘floating apps’ button. It generates applications that, as the name suggests, float above other applications. It’s a powerful multitasking tool and we like the option of having access to a unit converter, calculator and stopwatch at a whim’s notice.
Asus has included proprietary applications that govern audio settings, screen settings and the battery life. People who enjoy tailoring a tablet to their specific tastes will appreciate this kind of granular control over fine audio and visual settings.
The Pad 8 features a wonderfully laid out custom gallery that combines local media with the photos you have stored in the cloud. It maintains the level of detail and functionality users expect from the typical Android and iOS alternatives with advanced sharing and editing options.
Belly of the beast
Asus has continued the tradition of featuring powerful innards by fitting the Pad 8 with a quad-core 1.6GHz CPU, 1GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage. An microSD memory card can expand the storage by a further 64GB. The fact the Pad 8 can handle 64GB of external memory stands testament to its computing capabilities, as some tablets only support up to 32GB cards.
There is no flash to be found on the Pad 8
The Pad 8 will handle most tasks in its stride. Browsing the menu, gaming and using multimedia are all performed quickly, but there are times when the extensive custom skin slows it down a little. It’s not enough to raise concerns, though.
Powering the Pad 8 is a 3950 milliamp-hour battery. During our real-word test, where we watch a two-hour movie, play games, use the camera, surf the Web and watch YouTube clips, the Pad 8 admirably lasted, without charge, for two whole days. This is a great result and solidifies the MeMO Pad 8’s position as a multimedia tablet.
The range of connection options on the Pad 8 is impressive. Sure, it features the familiar Bluetooth 3.0 and Wi-Fi 802.11n, but in addition to these wireless standards is Miracast. Slide down the notification drawer and a Miracast shortcut makes it possible to display the Pad 8’s content onto a Miracast-compatible TV or monitor. To use Miracast, your TV needs to support Miracast, or you can connect an adapter to your TV via HDMI, which will receive the signals from the tablet. We recently reviewed the Actiontec ScreenBeam Pro, and think it's a good option if your TV doesn't have built-in Miracast.
Packing an inexpensive tablet with powerful innards, a respectable screen and productive software is a tall order when a company is trying to keep the price down. More often than not, a concession has to be made, and for the MeMO Pad 8, that concession is with the camera.
The 5MP rear camera is perfectly capable of snapping the odd photo, but in conditions other than ideal, it does struggle. It has a tough time handling high-contrast situations, and because there is no flash to be found on the Pad 8, night photos have a bad case of noise. Videos recorded in Full HD are of decent quality, but the camera could handle motion and situations with compromised lighting better.
The front camera has 1.2 megapixels and will record videos in HD 720p quality. Skype users will appreciate this resolution over video calls.
We doubt many people will use the Pad 8 as their primary camera and, if a concession had to be made somewhere, we’re glad it’s here. Even though it is not the most advanced camera, it’s more than enough for a tablet.
The Asus MeMO Pad 8 isn’t just another me-too Android tablet. Unique software additives and Asus’ sense of evolving style give it a well defined personality. For its size, it packs a hearty hardware punch, and on value it is only surpassed by one other tablet: the Asus-made Nexus 7. Handle both of them before making a purchase and make the call based on your own individual tastes.
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