Small tablets all look roughly the same. They have rounded corners so as not to cut into your palms and a narrow bezel that makes the screen more prominent. Even the headphone jack, volume rocker and power button are often placed in standard locations, regardless of the manufacturer.
On Android slates, you can also expect a microSD card slot to supplement the internal storage. More often than not, these tablets come in a 16:9 aspect ratio optimised for videos - there are no black bars at the sides.
Asus' latest MeMO Pad 8 checks all these boxes. Its design is practically identical to the previous model, but slimmer.
Unlike the majority of slates that use an ARM-based processor, the Asus has an Intel Atom CPU. This quad-core chip belongs to Intel's Moorefield class of 64-bit Atom processors. Significantly for Intel, this chip has an integrated LTE chipset that makes it competitive with processors from market leader Qualcomm.
For consumers, LTE is just another feature that puts this tablet on a par with its rivals. Where the Asus edges out some of its rivals, such as the Apple iPad mini 3, is its support for the latest 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard.
Its 8-inch display is bright and sharp. Viewing angles are wide and there appears to be no air gap between the LCD and its protective Corning Gorilla Glass 3 layer.
The screen has an anti-fingerprint layer that works reasonably well. The tablet's glossy back does not have such a coating, though smudges are not obvious at a glance. I was more worried that the tablet would slip from my fingers because of its smooth rear.
At around 299g, the Asus is relatively light. For instance, it weighs about 40g less than the 7.9-inch iPad mini 3. Its plastic chassis bends slightly under pressure, but does not creak. It is available in blue, pink or white.
Asus' ZenUI interface runs on top of Android 4.4 KitKat. Like Samsung, Asus has produced a slew of proprietary apps that duplicate some of the basic Android OS functions. They are useful for first-time or casual users who have yet to explore the Google Play Store for alternatives.
My main complaint here: there is a touch of lag with the Asus software keyboard that contrasts with the fluid screen transitions and animations for the rest of the interface.
The tablet lasted a decent seven hours in our video playback battery test. This is around 30 minutes less than the iPad mini 3.
But at $499, the Asus MeMO Pad is much more affordable than its Apple counterpart ($728).
It does not look terribly exciting, but the MeMO Pad 8 is still a polished and capable tablet.
Processor: Intel Atom Z3560 (1.8GHz)
Display: 8 inches, 1,920 x 1,200 pixels
Camera: 5 megapixels (rear), 1.2 megapixels (front)
Storage: 16GB, microSD expandable to 64GB
Value for money: 4/5
Battery life: 3/5
This article was first published on Nov 12, 2014.
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