Asus Memo Pad ME172V review: Low price can't mask performance issues

The Nexus 7 by comparison houses an In-Plane-Switching (IPS) panel and renders 1,280x800 pixels on its screen. As a result, text is sharp and details can be seen even when viewing the screen from an off angle.

Tested spec Asus Memo Pad 172V Google Nexus 7 Apple iPad Mini Amazon Kindle Fire HD
Maximum brightness 317 cd/m2 288 cd/m2 399 cd/m2 394 cd/m2
Maximum black level 0.30 cd/m2 0.28 cd/m2 0.49 cd/m2 0.41 cd/m2
Maximum contrast ratio 1,056:1 1,028:1 814:1 960:1

The Memo Pad houses a 1GHz single-core VIA WM8850 CPU and a dual-core Mali-400 MP GPU. Like the Transformer line, the Memo Pad includes three power profiles: Power Saving, Balanced, and Performance. Power Saving and Balanced profiles throttle the CPU’s speed down to save on battery power, while Performance keeps it at its full 1GHz frequency.

If performing a simple singular task like reading a book, your profile selection seems to matter little, however, surfing the Web, checking e-mail, playing a game, or performing concurrent tasks like downloading an app while playing a game are noticeably more sluggish under the slower profiles. I stuck with the Performance profile during most of my use, as the others were just too hair-pullingly frustrating.

It may seem strange, but having these on the left edge of a tablet just feels weird. Josh Miller/CNET

While overall OS navigation performance wasn’t without a few hiccups now and then, it was generally smooth, as long as the processor had only to deal with one thing at a time, of course. The Memo Pad includes several built-in mini-app widgets. These consist of a browser, video player, calculator, and battery meter, among others. The widgets can all run concurrently, but performance greatly suffered under certain combinations. Running a video while surfing the Web, for example, is not something I recommend doing here if you value your time and possibly sanity.

Riptide GP ran at a fairly smooth frame rate, but its graphics were pixely, even with the game’s resolution turned to max. The real issue, however, lies with control. When playing on the Memo Pad, turning speed was so slow, I rarely had enough time to make a turn without crashing into a wall. Again and again. This was the case whether using tilt or touch controls, so I’m unsure if this is an issue of processing power or a problem with the gyroscope.

Real Racing 3 didn’t have the turning issue, but the frame rate it delivered was nearly slideshowesque; during my time, it would hard crash the tablet without fail after a few seconds of play, requiring a complete reboot. Unfortunately, crash problems across some of the latest games was also an issue. Both Modern Combat 4 and N.O.V.A. 3 consistently crashed just after loading their respective first levels. Bladeslinger, on the other hand, ran with no problems, and aside from a low frame rate, was playable.

Angry Birds Star Wars: Not the most taxing game in the world, yet on the Memo Pad, its sluggishness can't go unnoticed. Josh Miller/CNET

Even 2D games like Angry Birds Star Wars suffered from pixely graphics and stuttering gameplay, especially on the lower power profiles.

Local, 720p video ran smoothly on the tablet when no other operations were running in the background and the speakers banged out fairly loud, if tinny sound. The Memo Pad’s battery lasted only about 6 hours when playing a continuously looping video, which pales in comparison to the Nexus 7’s 10-plus hours of battery life.

Here are our official CNET Labs-tested battery life results. More tablet testing results can be found here.

Video Battery life (in hours)
Asus Memo Pad ME172V 5.6

Conclusion
At $149 for 16GB of storage, the Asus Memo Pad ME172V is clearly targeted at budget-minded users. However, I think those users would be better served paying more for Asus' (and Google's) current crown jewel, the Nexus 7. There’s no microSD slot on the Nexus 7, but you won’t have problems playing the latest games, either. Also, the Nexus 7’s faster performance and high screen quality more than make up for the extra $50. If you absolutely must go sub-$200, the Kindle Fire (2012) with its 7-inch IPS screen, will easily meet your media consumption needs.

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Asus Memo Pad ME172V (gray)

Part Number: CNETAsus Memo Pad ME172V
MSRP: $149.99 Low Price: $112.99 See all prices

Quick Specifications See All

  • Wireless Connectivity Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n
  • Type Android 4.1 Jelly Bean
  • Weight 0.81 lbs
  • Storage 16 GB