Asus Memo Pad 8 review: Feature-filled slate for the frugal

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3.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

4.5 stars 1 user review

The Good The Asus Memo Pad 8 is a slim and lightweight slate with a colorful screen and slick user-interface. Starting at $199, it packs enough useful preloaded apps to feel like a deal.

The Bad Performance is slow if many apps are open in the background, and touchscreen response lags after being woken up.

The Bottom Line The Asus MeMo Pad 8 is an affordable slate with tons of features, but if performance is king, faster options can be had for only $30 more.

7.3 Overall
  • Design 7.5
  • Features 7.5
  • Performance 7.0

Asus successfully turns cheap into sleek with the MeMo Pad 8. Running Asus' new Zen user-interface, which rocks a trendy flat design and a myriad of customization options, the 8-inch Android slate is one of the slimmest and most lightweight in its price range.

Spec-wise, the MeMo Pad 8 is a poor contender in the budget tablet race, but its software features give it an edge on the competition. The preloaded Asus suite of apps include calibration software and an audio-enhancement app, in addition to two free years of cloud storage via WebStorage.

It's a you-get-what-you-pay-for world, and the affordably priced 8-inch tablet isn't without its duly noted shortcomings; performance slows down if many apps are running in the background, and touchscreen response can lag after being asleep. To be sure, these issues plague most bargain slates.

With a $199 starting price, the Asus MeMo Pad 8 gives you your money's worth with software features crammed into a cool and comfy package, but an upgrade in specs and performance can be easily found for only $30 more.

Design

The 8-inch MeMo Pad's design is one of the thinnest and lightest in the budget tablet category. It fits comfortably in one hand without over-stretching your fingers and the rounded edges and corners help it melt in your hands.

Asus MeMo Pad 8 Lenovo A8 Dell Venue 8 Acer Iconia A1-830
Weight in pounds 0.72 0.8 0.64 0.83
Width in inches (landscape) 8.3 8.5 8.3 8
Height in inches 4.9 5.3 5.1 5.4
Depth in inches 0.33 0.35 0.38 0.32
Side bezel width in inches (landscape) 0.7 0.8 0.7 0.8

The top edge houses the Micro-USB port and headphone jack, with the power button confusingly placed below the volume rocker on the top-right edge. The microSD card slot, expandable up to 64GB, sits alone on the left edge.

The thinly-woven texture on its back is comfortable on your fingertips while providing grip support, and its construction feels surprisingly solid for a budget tablet. Our review unit was a dark blue with a matte finish -- a boring but sophisticated look -- but Asus also offers the tablet in black, white, or purple.

asus-memo-pad-8-9113-005.jpg
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The rounded edges make the thin tablet comfortable to hold. Josh Miller/CNET

Slim bezels give tablets a high-end look, and when holding the MeMo Pad 8 in its native portrait orientation, the thin left and right bezels help the tablet look cooler than your average budget slate. The top and bottom bezels are thicker and provide more thumb-space for watching video in landscape orientation.

Located on the back, the single speaker stretches across the bottom edge, making it easy to mindlessly block when holding in landscape orientation. However, when placed on a flat surface, it helps amplify the sound of the speaker -- but not by much.

asus-memo-pad-8-9104-003.jpg
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When on a flat surface, the rear speaker sounds a bit more full. Josh Miller/CNET

Features

The MeMo Pad 8 ships with Asus' new Zen user-interface, which features a trendy flat design, a bevy of customization options, and many software goodies, like Asus' suite of apps.

The Asus suite of apps help fine-tune your tablet to your needs and offer a few cool perks. The Splendid app allows you to calibrate the screen easily, and the AudioWizard tool is essential for optimizing audio quality when listening to music or watching a movie.

asusmemopad8screenshot1.jpg
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The flat design of the Zen UI is at left, and the many camera scene modes are shown on the right. Screenshot/Xiomara Blanco

If you're familiar with the Android OS, you will easily find your way around the Zen UI. However, if you're a little wet behind the ears, Asus offers a ton of tutorials to guide you through the getting-to-know-you process. I found the tutorial for the robust SuperNote app -- which could give Samsung's Note line a run for its money if the MeMo came with a stylus --the most refreshingly useful.

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