It's a tricky business, designing a gadget that appeals as much for its sense of style as its technical chops. The latest Asus Memo Pad 7 is one of those gadgets, looking to give style mavens a device that co-ordinates with their outfit a little better than one of the many glossy black rectangles on the market.
An Android tablet with the option of 4G LTE, this new model, numbered ME572C/CL, is the latest in a line of tablets sharing the Memo Pad 7 name, including the Asus Memo Pad 7 and, er, the Asus Memo Pad HD 7 . The new Memo Pad 7 goes on sale "in the next few weeks" in the UK, and will cost £179 for the 16GB model at department store John Lewis. Price and release details for other countries are yet to be confirmed, but that converts to $295 or AU$320.
The Memo Pad 7's black frame with rounded edges reminds me of a polycarbonate Nokia Lumia phone like the Lumia 1520 phablet , with a coloured back added. This back plate is offset slightly to the side, a subtle visual cue that made me instantly feel I wanted to open it, like a purse or wallet -- but it doesn't open. Rather, the design is simply inspired by the look of a clutch bag. Subtle it may be, but in a world of identikit shiny rectangles, it's surprisingly evocative.
The back plate comes draped in champagne gold, black, or burgundy, and each colour has a slightly different finish. At 8.3mm thick and weighing 269g, it should be able to find a home in all but the daintiest of clutches.
It's probably clear from this talk of clutches that the Memo Pad 7 is aimed at, shall we say, the female market. While it's a little patronising to suggest any electronic device is more suitable for women, this is one of the less heavy-handed attempts to woo the ladies: avoiding the "shrink it and pink it" trap, the Memo Pad's colours and metallic finishes are relatively understated and classic.
The 7-inch screen has a full HD resolution of 1,920x1,200 pixels. That gives you 323 pixels per inch, which is pretty decent for a tablet this size -- that's identical to the iPad Mini and the Google Nexus 7 , give or take a pixel.
The tablet boasts a speaker at each end for stereo sound when watching a movie or playing a game sans headphones.
Under the elegantly folded frame is a 1.83GHz Intel Atom Z3560 quad-core processor, backed up by a respectable 2GB of RAM. You can choose from models with 16GB or 32GB of storage for your selfies, videos and music, with a microSD card slot giving you extra space if required.
The software is Android 4.4 KitKat, which is the latest version of Google's software for smartphones and tablets. Android is based around a series of home screens that you can fill with shortcuts to apps downloaded from the Google Play app store, and widgets that show you snippets of information such as the weather or latest news without having to open the app. Android is great for customising your phone or tablet, by downloading the apps of your choice and by adjusting details like changing the way the keyboard works to suit you. Android is more open to tinkering than Apple's iPhone and iPad, for example, and has an equally varied range of apps available.
On top of the Android software familiar to many from a range of phones and tablets, Asus adds its own whistles and bells with the ZenUI interface.