- 4G LTE connectivity is convenient
- Exceptional battery life
- Solid performance
- Display is just OK
- Some unfortunate software choices
Quick TakeThe Asus MeMO Pad 7 LTE is a more-than-capable tablet that is saved from plainness by its convenient 4G LTE connectivity.
The Asus MeMO Pad 7 is back, and this time it’s sporting a 4G LTE connection. Although it sports nearly identical specs as its predecessor – the only other major change here is a processor upgrade — Asus made its changes count as it’s taken a somewhat pedestrian tablet and turned it into a device that hovers between mid- to high-end quality while still boasting an affordable price tag; AT&T is offering it at $175 off-contract or free with a two year agreement, you can certainly do a lot worse.
Build & Design
The build of the MeMO Pad 7 LTE (ME375CL) is comfortable and familiar, if a bit flawed. The all-black color scheme (well, technically Asus calls it “dark chocolate”) keeps it looking sleek, while the soft matte finish that coats the back makes the device pleasant to hold. Weighing in at only 0.66 pounds (10.56 ounces), it’s easy to hold with one hand and the 0.39 inch thickness adds to its overall low profile.
Where the design can use some work, however, is with the bezel. Though the bezel is very thin to the left and right of the display, there’s a lot of wasted space above and below it. To be fair, this is where the tablet’s dual speakers are located, but it also doesn’t seem necessary to extend the space a good half inch (give or take) on both ends to accommodate them.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m glad that the two speakers fire toward the user and are in a position to avoid being covered by one’s hands (when holding it vertically, at least). This was a good design choice. It just seems like they could have been implemented better because the space surrounding them could have been trimmed down a little bit. Instead, the MeMO Pad 7 LTE’s footprint is a little longer than it needs to be.
Overall, the 7-inch, 1280 x 800 display of the MeMO Pad 7 is decent. Image quality is good – but not great; you won’t find any Retina display sharpness here — and text is comfortable to read.
Colors pop and are nicely saturated, but one area in which the screen is somewhat lacking is brightness. It’s not enough to really call it dim, but it was enough to leave me wanting. At one point, I actually double checked to make sure I had turned the brightness all the way up instead of leaving it on the auto setting, and I was disappointed to find that I couldn’t turn it up any more. It’s not so bad that it causes visibility issues, I’m just the type of user that likes the screen so bright that his eyes burn.
Buttons and Ports
The MeMO Pad 7 LTE has the usual array of buttons and ports, although some are in slightly unconventional locations.
The top edge houses the micro-USB charging port, while the bottom edge is where the 3.5mm headphone jack can be found; this is the reverse of what you’ll usually find on tablets. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing – in fact, one can argue that having the headphone jack on the end closer to the user makes more sense – but it might be a little awkward at first for those who are used to the norm.
The right edge is where the volume rocker and power/standby button are located, but they too are arranged somewhat unusually, with the rocker located above the power switch. Unfortunately, I found this arrangement to be a little more uncomfortable than the swapped charging and headphone ports. Since I’m accustomed to having the power button in the highest position, I often found myself turning up the volume by accident instead of putting the device into standby, and vice versa.
Thankfully, everything else is standard: there are speaker grills located above and below the display (with a 2-megapixel front-facing camera directly to the right of the top speaker), a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera centered towards the top of the tablet’s back, and covered slots for microSD and micro SIM cards on the left edge of the device. In a bit of an odd move, Asus covered both ports with a single piece of plastic with some extra space on the end for the notch, so the result is a bizarrely long cover that dangles off of the device when opened.