segunda-feira, 18 de fevereiro de 2013

ASUS announces MeMO Pad series: 7" MeMO Pad and 10" MeMO Pad Smart

After continuously releasing many high-end tablets with accordingly high pricing throughout 2012, ASUS is now preparing tablets to compete at very low price points. The 7" member of the MeMO Pad series has a dramatically low price, in fact, one of the lowest prices on the 7" tablet market, priced at a modest $149. Priced competitively against the last-gen Kindle Fire (also $149), and also cheaper than the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire (2012) and much cheaper than the $329 iPad mini, the ASUS MeMO Pad is a very entry level tablet, unfortunately, however, the tablet's spec sheet suffers a lot due to the low pricing. The MeMO Pad's bigger brother, the MeMO Pad Smart, is a 10.1" slate whose pricing is still unknown, however a rather modest spec sheet also tells us it will be competing at a low price point, and will probably be considerably cheaper than the $399 Nexus 10 and perhaps the $349 ASUS Transformer Pad 300 too. These two tablets will probably be announced during MWC in a few days time. 

MeMO Pad

None of the specifications of the ASUS MeMO Pad are impressive, but, in turn, the pricing is pretty impressive. Take a look at the MeMO Pad full spec sheet here.

The design isn't bad, really, somewhat resembling some of the design features of the Nexus 7. The tablet is oriented for use in portrait mode, and one the top we have an 1MP camera which can shoot 720p HD video, and on the bottom side of the bezel there is a big, bright ASUS logo. the back casing has a textured plastic feel not unlike the Nexus 7, with a small mono speaker located at the bottom left of the back casing. The MeMO Pad is a pretty thick tablet (11.2mm), significantly thicker than the Nexus 7 and much thicker than the iPad mini. This slate is also the heaviest of these three tablets, weighing 358g. As a result, the entry level ASUS tablet is far from svelte. The tablet comes in 3 different colors: Sugar White, Titanium Gray and Cherry Pink. The display doesn't look too bad, at least on paper. It is a 7" LED-backlit IPS display with a lackluster resolution of 1024 x 600, resulting in a pixel density of 169ppi, hence, the screen isn't very crisp compared to the 216ppi display of the Nexus 7, but should be about as crisp as the iPad mini (161ppi). The display has a 150 degree viewing angle, which isn't too bad, and the display also has 300nits brightness. One aspect of the MeMO Pad that really puzzles me is the ancient performance levels this tablet should offer. In a time where Quad-core Cortex-A9s and Dual/Quad-core Cortex-A15s with clock speeds greater than 1.5GHz have become the norm, I think the single Cortex-A9 core ticking at 1GHz inside the VIA WM8950 System-on-Chip that powers the MeMO Pad to be a little too underpowered. Even worse is the last-gen Mali-400MP1 GPU included in this SoC. This SoC delivers performance levels similar to what was found around 2010, even before the NVIDIA Tegra 2, hence, it is too weak to handle many usage scenarios. This was a very bad choice for ASUS, because for $50 more, one can buy a Tegra 3-powered Nexus 7, which offers more than four times the CPU performance, and who knows how many times the GPU performance of this VIA SoC. Anyways, this tablet will probably be too slow for most users, basically. That aside, this slate will come with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean out of the box, 1GB of RAM, up to 16GB storage, and a battery that can handle up to 7 hours of light usage. 

MeMO Pad Smart

The MeMO Pad Smart is also aimed at entry level pricing, but with much more competitive hardware. It is a more typical ASUS tablet, with a wide bezel around a 10.1" LED-backlit IPS panel with a resolution of 1280 x 800, resulting in a 149ppi pixel density, the standard for most last-gen and some current-gen Android tablets. The display has a 170 degree wide viewing angles, which is slightly worse than higher-end IPS panels, but is still decent enough. Hence the display should be average, at most. The back casing is a simplistic plastic case, with the typical centered ASUS logo, and the typical camera positioned at the top center. There are two small speaker grilles on either side of the tablet, with the sound being SonicMaster Audio Technology enhanced. There is still no information on the tablet's dimensions, but the available images show that it isn't very thin, and shouldn't be very light either, which is probably to help reduce the price. The tablet, much like its 7" variant, comes in three colors: Blue, White and Pink. This tablet offers reasonable performance levels, since it packs an NVIDIA Tegra 3 processor, with four Cortex-A9 cores clocked at anywhere between 1.2GHz and 1.6GHz. It is a last-gen SoC, and doesn't exactly impress in benchmarks, but it gained a lot of fame during 2012. The Tegra 3 can be considered a mid-end SoC these days, and is definitely capable of powering this device with sufficiently fluid performance. Like the MeMO Pad, the MeMO Pad Smart will release with Android 4.1, plus 1GB RAM, 16GB storage, with a decent looking 5MP rear facing camera and a 1.2MP front facing camera. The battery is also not very shabby, handling up to 8.5 hours of light usage. The pricing for the MeMO Pad Smart is still very unknown, but I think it would be foolish to price it any more than $350, so I expect it will be below that price.

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