Asus MemoPad FHD 10 Review: Averagely Loaded

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Asus MemoPad FHD 10
Hot on the heels of the Budget Buy award winning Asus Memopad HD7 is the Asus Memopad FHD 10. It's a 10in tablet with a Full HD 1,920x1,080-resolution display and a delightfully minimal design. A slim black bezel, textured plastic rear and svelte 9mm thickness make the Memopad FHD 10 pretty and comfortable to hold. At 580g, it weighs less than an iPad and its build is excellent, with almost no signs of flex in the plastic back. The screen bezel is large enough to leave room for your fingers without obscuring the screen whether you're holding it in portrait or landscape mode, and the sensible rear speaker placement means you're unlikely to mask the sound with your hands.

You get all the ports you need, with a micro USB port for charging, a microSD card slot and micro HDMI video output on one side and a 3.5mm audio jack on the other. A wired video output is a welcome inclusion, but the Miracast support is even better if you have a display that supports it. You can stream 1080p video directly from the tablet to most modern TVs. Naturally, 802.11n Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support is included.

The last point of interest on the back of the tablet is its 5-megapixel camera. We're rarely impressed by tablet cameras, but the Memopad FHD 10 at least supports tap-to-focus. It manages to capture a fair amount of detail in well-lit indoor scenes, although it overexposed the natural light from nearby windows. There's no flash, so low light scenes are unsurprisingly noisy and lacking in detail. You can capture Full HD video with the rear camera, or record 720p videos with the front-facing 1.2-megapixel sensor, but the latter is best used for Skype video conferencing.

Display:

At the front, the highlight is the 10in, Full HD display. At 1,920x1,080, both still images and high-definition video look superb, especially as the panel doesn't have the grainy finish you often find on less expensive models. Brightness is above average, but it can still be a struggle to see what's on-screen when outdoors because of the reflective finish.

The Asus Splendid app gives you control over hue, saturation and colour temperature, letting you tweak the display to your own personal preference. However, colours were already accurate, if a little muted. Enabling the Vivid mode gives Android's icons a welcome colour boost, although you may want to disable it when watching video.

Operating System:

Asus has sensibly refrained from tweaking the default Android nterface too much. The only major changes are a skinned notification drawer, which can be disabled if you prefer the standard one, and a fourth icon next to the Home, Back and Recent soft buttons. This opens a list of small floating apps, including a web browser, timer, calculator and email client, which run over the top of any full screen application.

Although we appreciate the near-default Android installation, it's a shame Asus has filled the Memopad FHD 10 with so many preinstalled apps. Some, such as AudioWizard, are useful, as it lets you customise the sound for your headphones or its integrated speakers. Others, like Asus To-Do, Asus photo Studio, SuperNote, Amazon Kindle and Zinio mimic existing Google features, so you may never need to use them. We're not sure that two separate dictionary apps are strictly necessary, either. Annoyingly, you can't remove them completely, but you can at least disable them should you prefer.

Chipset and Benchmark:

The Memopad FHD 10 is a very capable tablet when it comes to 2D tasks thanks to its dual-core Intel Atom Z2560. The processor runs at 1.6GHz and is paired with 2GB of RAM, which helped it achieve a rapid 1129ms in the SunSpider JavaScript test. That puts it ahead of all the 10in Android tablets recently tested, and on par with many high-end smartphones too. Our review unit had 32GB of internal storage and although there will eventually be a 16GB model, we don't yet know how much cheaper it will be. Both models have a MicroSD card for adding extra capacity later. The PowerVR SGX 544MP graphics are perfectly capable of rendering the Android operating system smoothly, and all the 2D games we tried worked flawlessly too. Unfortunately, very demanding 3D games ask a little too much of the chip, so expect to see less smooth results. This was reflected in its 3Dmark scores of 5884 and 3423 in the Ice Storm and Ice Storm Extreme tests respectively.

That's much less than the Xperia Tablet Z and the Nexus 10, but it's still quicker than the original Nexus 7. Intel's mobile processors aren't as energy efficient as those based on ARM architecture, so we weren't expecting fantastic results from our video playback test. However, the Memopad FHD 10 lasted 9 hours and 40 minutes, which is over one hour more than the Google Nexus 10. As long as you stick to multimedia tasks rather than 3D games, you should easily get an entire day's use out of a single charge.

Conclusion:

While many 7in tablets now combine power and speed at low prices, it's tougher to find cheaper 10in models, but the Asus Memopad FHD 10 is among the better devices available today for the money. Its only serious competitor is the Nexus 10, the 32GB Memopad is around £20 cheaper than the 16GB Nexus, plus it has a memory card slot to further expand its storage space. This makes the Memopad FHD 10 the clear choice if you plan on loading up your device with lots of HD video files. The Nexus is slightly quicker in our benchmarks, but the Memopad is more stylish and feels better built. That's a win for the Asus then, however the current Google Nexus 10 has been on sale for almost a year now, so it's a little disappointing that the Memopad isn't significantly cheaper or better specified. A new Nexus 10 is rumoured to be coming soon and that could make the Memopad seem rather overpriced. If you're happy to spend the extra then the Sony Xperia Z is still our Ultimate tablet, but then its £100 more.
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