Asus MeMO Pad FHD10 review

Pros

  • Good HD screen
  • Solid build quality
  • Reasonable battery life
  • Affordable price

Cons

  • Not lightning-fast
  • Unimpressive sound

The big brother to the award-winning MeMO Pad HD7, the Asus MeMO Pad FHD10 offers much the same combination of a great screen, solid build quality and aggressive pricing in a larger form factor. This was a magic combination on the HD7, and despite competition from the Tesco Hudl and the new Kindle Fire HD it’s still our bargain-basement tablet of choice.

With the 10in version, however, Asus has its work cut out. £299 isn’t much for a 10in tablet these days, but it’s still above the £250 mark which seems to be the new entry-level. And with some of 2013’s best devices dropping in price just in time for Christmas, there are some strong alternatives if you have £300 or so to spend.

Design

The MeMO Pad FHD10 feels plasticky, but not necessarily in a cheap and nasty way. The gently curved rear shell is formed from a tough, dimpled plastic, and while there’s a little flex when you twist away at the corners there’s not enough to cause undue alarm. Available in blue, pink or white it’s a decent looking tablet, and at 580 grams it’s just a little lighter than the Google Nexus 10, although not the ultra-light Sony Xperia Tablet Z.

Connectivity is perfectly respectable as well. Unlike the current Nexus 10 you can upgrade the built-in 32GB of storage using microSD cards, and there’s a microHDMI connector too. The tablet charges over microUSB and supports 802.11n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth v3.0 and Miracast, though sadly not dual-band Wi-Fi or NFC. It’s not superior to the Nexus 10 in every way, but the MeMO Pad FHD10 is a little more flexible.

Screen and sound

The FHD in the name stands for Full HD, and this tablet comes packing a 10.1in, 1920 x 1200 screen with a pixel density of 226ppi. That’s not up there with the 300ppi of the Nexus 10, but as we found with the Xperia Tablet Z, it’s more than enough for a lovely crisp and clean image, and only the most highly-trained ninja pixel-peepers will notice the difference in everyday use. This screen is a beauty – it’s bright, whites are truly white, and colours have an appealing depth and richness. HD movies look fantastic, and you can read digital magazines from the Google Play store without the constant need to zoom in.

It’s also an easy screen to work with if you’re word processing or editing presentations using QuickOffice, OfficeSuite Pro or your Android office suite of choice. And, once again, the excellent ASUS Splendid utility makes it easy to customise the colour balance to your taste.

The news isn’t so good when it comes to sound. The stereo SonicMaster speakers can create a surprisingly wide field of sound, but the tone is harsh and congested, and there’s no bass to speak of. In straight AB tests it was outperformed by the tiny Kindle Fire HD, so if you want to play music or watch movies, a pair of headphones is a must.

Cameras

The MeMO Pad FHD10 has a 5-megapixel rear camera with auto-focus, and a 1.2-megapixel snapper at the front. Performance is at the same level that you’d expect from a budget smartphone, but you can get a reasonable amount of detail if you have some light to work with, even if colours and contrast are slightly flat. The front-facing camera is good enough for video chats or conferencing, though – as always – but there’s a lot of noise when the lighting isn’t bright.

Software and usability

The MeMO Pad comes running Android 4.2.2, with the usual restrained tweaks layered on top by Asus. These don’t really extend beyond search bars, icons and widgets on the home screen, but the Asus keyboard is a bit of a horror – trying to cram a full keyboard layout on a tablet screen never works – and you’re best advised to replace it with the stock Android keyboard (or an alternative) as soon as you can. Otherwise, there are a lot of pre-installed apps including to-do lists, dictionaries, a news reader, eBook reader and video editing apps, but with the exception of the useful SuperNote Lite (pictured below), I’d be tempted to ditch most of them in favour of other stronger apps.

Performance

Unusually for an Android tablet, the MeMO Pad is based on an Intel Atom SoC, in this case the Z2560 dual-core processor running at 1.6GHz, and accompanied by 2GB of RAM. It’s hard to know what to say about performance. Geekbench 2 and Geekbench 3 scores, at 1143 and 1058 respectively, leave the MeMO Pad trailing old Tegra 3 models, let alone the Xperia Tablet Z and Nexus 10.

However, in use this tablet feels perfectly smooth and responsive, handling everything from photo editing with Snapseed to HD video playback without any issues, and switching snappily between apps. You need to be aware that the Atom processor isn’t compatible with all Android software, though most mainstream apps that aren’t games seem to run perfectly well.

The MeMO Pad isn’t a gaming device, in any case. Scoring 7.1 fps onscreen in GFXBench’s T-Rex HD test and 26 fps in Egypt HD, it’s not in the same league as the Nexus 10 or Xperia Tablet Z. That didn’t stop it running Dead Trigger 2 – one of the most graphically accomplished games on Android – but frame rates stuttered when the action got thick and fast.

Battery life

Asus quotes a battery life of up to ten hours, though that’s a bit of a best-case-scenario deal. In practice we got around nine hours of mixed use including web browsing, office apps, streaming HD video and gaming, with the last two activities draining power at a faster rate. That’s actually better than you might get from the Xperia Tablet Z or Nexus 10, and beyond many tablets you’d see at the £300 price point.

Verdict

The MeMO Pad FHD10 is a strong mid-range 10.1in tablet with a good screen, reasonable performance and a useful battery life. If £300 is your ceiling it’s one of the very best 10in tablets out there. There are some strong alternatives if you can find an extra £20, however, with the Nexus 10 offering a slightly better screen and processor, albeit with compromises on storage, while the Xperia Tablet Z is hugely tempting at under £320. Given the price and the competition we can’t embrace the FHD10 as we did the MeMO Pad HD7, but if you’re looking for a good all-rounder it’s a decent buy.

Specifications

Manufacturer and Product

Asus MeMO Pad FHD10

Processor

1.6GHz Intel Atom Z2560

RAM

2GB

Memory

32GB

Memory Expansion

MicroSD card

Display

10.1in 1920 x 1200 LED screen

Connectors

MicroUSB, headphones, microHDMI

Main Camera

5 megapixel

Front-facing camera

1.2 megapixel

Wi-Fi

802.11b/g/n

Battery

25Whr Lithium Polymer

Size and weight

264 x 182 x 9.5mm, 580g