Asus Memo Pad 7 ME572C review
When it comes to producing great Android tablets, Asus has form. Its factories are responsible for producing both Nexus 7 tablets, the 2013 version of which was a classic, and we’ve been impressed with its Asus Transformer tablets. Its latest offering is another budget tablet in the mould of the Memo Pad HD 7, and it bears almost the same name.
Asus Memo Pad 7 ME572C review: design, price and key features
The Memo Pad 7 refines the formula considerably, however. It’s a slimmer, sleeker device, with a far more attractive design, combining matte and glossy, coloured plastics to great effect. The long edges are rounded to make them easier to hold, and each end of the tablet is chopped off, Nokia Lumia style, giving a modern, stylish look.
The tablet is exceptionally light – weighing 269g and measuring a mere 8.3mm thick – and feels stiff and well made. The only concern we have from a physical perspective is that any scratches on the glossy rear may show up rather obviously. So far, though, so good – we haven’t spotted any major problems. The ME572C is available in three different colours: “rose champagne” (metallic beige); “gentle black”, which offers a textured plain black rear; and a very dark burgundy red (our review model).
Despite appearances, the Memo Pad 7 is not an expensive tablet. It costs as little as £150 for the 16GB version, which puts it in the same ballpark as the Nexus 7, and even approaches the ultra-budget Tesco Hudl 2 for value. Features-wise, it more than matches its Google-branded cousin. Our favourite feature is the microSD slot on the left edge, something the Nexus doesn’t have, but the tablet also has twin cameras – a 5-megapixel one at the rear and a 2-megapixel one at the front – stereo speakers and a 1,200 x 1,920 display that uses an IPS panel.
Asus Memo Pad 7 ME572C review: screen
And this display is pretty impressive. It goes insanely bright (as long as you turn off the “reading mode”, which takes the edge off bright white backgrounds), and the presence of an oleophobic coating means greasy smears won’t dull your enjoyment.
Our measurements put maximum brightness at a stunning 540cd/m2, a level we usually associate with smartphones, and certainly not budget tablets. It’s brighter than the Apple iPad Air 2, and with a contrast of 1,585:1 it blows a lot of considerably more expensive devices out of the water. Colour accuracy can’t match the more pricey devices, and there’s some backlight leakage, but we can forgive these foibles in a tablet at this price, especially since it’s topped with scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass – another unusual feature on a tablet this reasonably priced.
One area where the Asus really falls down is touch responsiveness. We found there was a considerable amount of lag between touching the surface and the input registering; when typing, for example, we felt it took a touch too long for letters to appear onscreen. We put this to the test by recording a high-speed video, sucking the footage into a video editor and seeing how much time elapsed between tapping the screen and the text appearing in the default email app. We also ran the same test with a couple of other tablets for context.
The fastest time the MemoPad 7 managed was 188 milliseconds, 61 milliseconds slower than the Nexus 9 and 71ms slower than the iPad Air 2. It’s a small difference, but enough to be irritating if you’re sensitive to such things.
Asus Memo Pad 7 ME572C review: core hardware and performance
This is a shame, since there’s clearly plenty of raw performance on tap here. The Memo Pad 7 packs a quad-core, 64-bit Intel Atom Z3560 that runs at speeds up to 1.83GHz, it has 2GB of RAM and there’s a PowerVR G6430 GPU to deal with the graphics side of things.
We’ve been impressed with Intel’s tablet hardware in the past, and here it proved perfectly capable, particularly in benchmarks. In the Geekbench 3 test, which tests solely the CPU’s number-crunching abilities, it gained 749 in the single-core part of the test and 2,405 in the multi-core element. The SunSpider browser test was despatched in a respectable 654ms, and in the GFXBench T-Rex HD (onscreen) gaming test it achieved 28fps.
Now, these scores don’t compare with tablets at the top of the price spectrum, but they put the Nexus 7 and Tesco Hudl 2 in the shade. Just be aware that, since the tablet has an Intel processor, a proportion of games and apps on the Play Store aren’t compatible. Battery life is also significantly better than you get with the Hudl 2. In our 720p video playback test, where we set the screen brightness to 120cd/m2, and switch flight mode on, the MemoPad 7 lasted 10hours 18mins – that’s 3hours 27mins longer than the Tesco tablet.
Asus Memo Pad 7 ME572C review: cameras, audio and software
As with an increasing number of budget tablets, the ME572C has both front and rear cameras, capable of capturing images at 2-megapixels and 5-megapixels respectively. There’s no flash, but you do get autofocus, and the video camera will shoot in Full HD.
The camera software offers a few more modes than you usually get with a tablet, including HDR, night, beauty, shallow depth of field and tilt-shift modes.
Quality isn’t bad for a tablet – we’ve seen far worse – but neither is it particularly special. Photographs captured with the rear camera have a heavily processed and slightly artificial look. If you have a smartphone in your pocket, it’s likely to produce better snaps than this.
The stereo speakers didn’t impress, either, producing sound that’s moderately loud and rather tinny. If you like to listen to podcasts on your tablet without your headphones on, this may not be the tablet for you.
And we’re none too keen on the positioning of the speakers. They’re slap bang in the centre of each edge and fall right under your hands when you’re holding the tablet in landscape orientation – it’s all too easy to completely block the sound.
In terms of software, there’s less to complain about: the overall experience is very similar to straight Android (the Memo Pad runs 4.4 KitKat), with a few subtle improvements. We particularly like the communicative lockscreen, which displays upcoming appointments, new messages and the weather. There’s rather a lot of clutter in terms of preinstalled apps, but most can be removed or hidden from the app list.
Asus Memo Pad 7 ME572C review: verdict
The Asus Memo Pad 7 ME572C is a fine budget tablet. The design is appealing, and the display is both sharp and superbly bright. It suffers from a touch of lag, but this is something we could live with, and elsewhere it offers all you could expect of a tablet costing £150.
The Memo Pad’s principal problem is one of price. Its main rival – the Hudl 2 – might not be as fast or as long-lived as this, but it’s £20 cheaper (and costs even less if bought through the Clubcard Boost scheme), and that, for now, gives it the edge.
|Processor||Quad core, 1.83GHz, Intel Atom Z3560|
|Memory card slot (supplied)||microSD|
|Wireless data||Yes (optional)|
|Size||114 x 8.3 x 200mm (WDH)|
|Operating system||Android 4.4.2|
|Price||£150 inc VAT|