Tablet technology has come an incredible distance from inception to widely-used and, in many cases, necessary, in just a few short years. Much of the work that used to require a laptop computer to complete can now be done with a tablet. The technology in available apps has also progressed in an equally impressive fashion.
Tablets also offer a broader range of available sizes than laptops, which creates improved portability and decreases the used space when traveling. This is especially valuable when traveling via commercial aircraft where luggage space is at a premium. A tablet and its charger are exponentially smaller than most laptops and their respective chargers.
Tablets have become very popular by these merits and in response to the public demand, every major electronics company seems to have its own range of models. This kind of market saturation can make deciding on the best tablet for you an overwhelming task. Because of the slew of options, sometimes it is best to choose a brand name that you like first and then decide on specific model from their range.
One brand that is storming the tablet market with innovation and a tenacious drive to be incredible is ASUS. ASUS is a top 3 consumer notebook brand and makes the world’s best-selling motherboards. In 2013 alone, ASUS took home 4,256 awards and was chosen as PC Magazine Reader’s Choice Award winner. Their performance in a very competitive market is nothing short of staggering.
ASUS recently sent us their newest 8-inch, Android-powered tablet, the ME181C-A1-BK MeMo Pad 8, to test (at no cost to facilitate this review).
- Intel Bay Trail Quad Core 1.33GHz processor
- 16GB memory
- Android 4.4 “Kit Kat” operating system with Zen UI
- 1280 x 800 resolution HD display
- Narrow bezel for a larger viewing area
- 9 hour battery life
- Front and rear cameras
- Micro SD card slot to expand the memory by up to 64GB
The tablet performs admirably, especially considering its excellent price point. The Intel Bay Trail processor handles any games and apps I downloaded with ease. Combined with the HD screen, the gaming looked beautiful. Switching between applications was smooth and hiccup-free with zero lag.
The HD IPS screen is bright and crisp. IPS stands for In-Plane Switching which basically translates to better color presentation (Whites are whiter, reds are redder, blacks are deep, etc.) and better viewing angles (178-degrees) without the screen “darkening” due to the position of the screen. 10 fingers at a time can be tracked by the screen. This new display in combination with ASUS Splendid technology (which optimizes images by enhancing color, brightness, contrast and sharpness) produces incredibly rich color. Just to top it off, there is an anti-fingerprint coating to help resist marks and smudges.
Miracast provides users with a way of streaming multimedia content (up to 720p 30fps) from your MeMo Pad to your TV. Think of Miracast as a wireless HDMI cable. You just need a Miracast ready TV or purchase a Miracast dongle to plug in to your existing TV.
ASUS SonicMaster-enhanced audio speakers are featured at the front of the MeMo Pad 8. These are designed to direct the most amount of sound to the user so you experience top quality audio whether you are listening to your music library or your HD video collection. AptX is also featured on the MeMo Pad 8 so you can use aptX equipped Bluetooth earphones and wirelessly listen to music at the quality level of a wired earphone set.
The exterior of the MeMo Pad 8 will be available in white, black, gold and purple, allowing you to choose the color that best expresses you. This tablet is very portable and lightweight. Weighing in at under 12 ounces and a little over a ¼ inch thick, you’ll barely notice the MeMo Pad when you add it to your bag, briefcase or purse.
The new MeMo Pad 8 comes with ZEN UI by ASUS. ZEN UI is a stylish new user interface that implements over 200 enhancements and upgrades to the Android operating system. The most noticeable enhancements have to do with visual presentation. Zen UI adds cleaner fonts, larger icons, animations, notification sounds and the ability to pick your color theme. It also adds easier, more intelligent schedule management via a feature called “What’s Next” that consolidates all your calendars so you can stay on top of all your meetings and tasks. What’s Next also frees users of having to manage information sources by choosing and displaying what is most important and useful currently on the home screen, the notification window, and the lock screen.
Are you a shutterbug? The MeMo Pad 8 has a camera for any occasion. The Smart Camera features help you get the best picture at any given time. “Time Rewind” records images 2 seconds before and 1 second after pressing the shutter button. 31 photos are recorded for you to choose the perfect one. “All Smile” keeps everyone looking their best in group or individual photos. Activate All Smiles mode and hold the shutter button to take 5 photos. Then you can individually choose each person’s best smile or expression and then combine them into one photo where everyone looks their best. Another feature, “Smart Remove”, even allows you to remove unwanted moving objects from your photos!
Adding additional storage is so handy when we go on trips with the kids. HD movies and TV shows eat up memory rather quickly and my iPad Mini can only carry 1 or 2 at a time. Well, the MeMo Pad 8 removed that ugly, glaring limitation for us with the addition of a MicroSD slot. You can add up to 64GB of additional memory with a MicroSD card for a total of 80GB of memory. I can now fit an entire library of HD movies and shows for the kids to enjoy while traveling. 5GB of Life Time ASUS Webstorage Cloud Space is also included.
I’ve spent a large portion of the past week just playing with the ME181C MeMo Pad 8 and (naturally) comparing it to my iPad Mini. With all the features ASUS packed into the small chassis of the amazingly affordable MeMo, the uphill battle against the iPad becomes much less… well… uphill. In many ways, the tables turned. I found myself comparing my iPad to the MeMo and not the other way around. Frankly, the pound-for-pound, bang-for-buck winner is the MeMo and I can’t believe I am saying it. What you get for what you pay is outstanding. In the $200 and less range of tablets, ASUS has a definite winner on their hands.
Whether you are looking for a tablet to use for a relaxing afternoon on the beach, or something to keep the kids occupied on the long roadtrip this summer, the ASUS ME181 MeMo Pad 8 is a great option and one I’m proud to recommend!
Connect: Visit the ASUS website to find out all about the different tablets, notebooks, ultrabooks, and more! Then, make sure you “like” them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube.
Buy It: This feature-packed tablet was just released yesterday, June 22nd with an MSRP of $199.00. You can purchase it at Amazon.com or look for it in store at GameStop.
Win It: One lucky reader is going to win an ASUS Memo Pad ME176, ARV $149 (a slightly smaller version of the tablet reviewed).
This giveaway is open to residents of the US only who are 18 years of age or older, unless prohibited by law. The giveaway will end at 11:59pm EDT on July 1th, 2014 and a winner will be drawn randomly from all eligible entries received. Enter using the Giveaway Tools entry form below. Good luck!
Disclosures: We received the tablet mentioned above at no cost to facilitate this review. All opinions are my own. ASUS is responsible for prize fulfilment. No monetary compensation has been provided. Amazon links are affiliate links.