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

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The Good The Asus Memo Pad ME172V carries a low $149 price and its storage can be expanded through a built-in microSD slot.

The Bad The screen's low resolution produces only fuzzy text, and its painfully narrow viewing angle hides detail. Overall system performance is slow, and the tablet crashes when attempting to run some of the latest games. It also burns through battery life quickly and isn't as comfortable to hold as the Nexus 7.

The Bottom Line The Asus Memo Pad ME172V won't set you back a ton, but with much better choices only $50 away, you should simply pay more now and regret less later.

5.5 Overall
  • Design 6
  • Features 6
  • Performance 4

Regardless of the Asus Memo Pad ME172V's attractively low $149 price, you shouldn't buy it. Its performance is slow, it crashes when attempting to play some of the latest games, and the narrow viewing angle and low resolution of the screen make it look like a hologram sticker placeholder rather than a quality screen with solid colors.

The Memo Pad does include a microSD slot, something the Nexus 7 (also manufactured by Asus) doesn’t have; however, even at $50 more, the Nexus 7 is clearly the better product. It’s faster, includes the very latest version of Android, and its sharp screen can be viewed from nearly any angle -- not something the Memo Pad can claim.

The ME172V is aimed at people looking to save a few bucks on their tablet purchase, but the budget-conscious would be better served by biting the bullet and paying more for the Nexus 7 (or even the $159 Kindle Fire), rather than saving a few bucks and regretting their purchase.

Design and features
The Asus Memo Pad ME172V could easily be mistaken for the Nexus 7. Asus makes each tablet, so it's not surprising that they're of very similar design. They're about the same size, although the Memo is slightly heavier and not quite as thin. Aesthetically, the Memo is missing the silver highlight trim around its screen, and instead of a smooth, comfortable backside like the Nexus 7's, the Memo has a bumpy, rather unpleasant-feeling posterior texture.

I really don't like the way this bumpy texture feels on my fingers. It makes me realize just how much the Nexus 7 nailed it in comfort. Josh Miller/CNET

The Memo Pad is only 0.4 pound heavier, but since its weight doesn’t appear to be distributed as evenly, it feels noticeably heftier. Also, given that most small tablets place their power and volume buttons along the right edge, having them run along the left edge instead, as they do here, feels awkward. The Memo Pad just doesn't hit the same comfort highs that the Nexus 7 easily nails.

Asus Memo Pad 172V Google Nexus 7 Apple iPad Mini Amazon Kindle Fire HD
Weight in pounds 0.78 0.74 0.68 0.86
Width in inches (landscape) 7.7 7.8 7.87 7.7
Height in inches 4.7 4.7 5.3 5.4
Depth in inches 0.45 0.4 0.28 0.4
Side bezel width in inches (landscape) 0.87 0.8 0.25 0.9

The tablet has a 1-megapixel front-facing camera, a headphone jack on the top edge, and a Micro-USB port on the bottom for file transfers and charging. It includes 16GB of storage and a microSD card slot for expanding its storage with up to 64 additional gigabytes.

Possibly the Memo Pad's only saving grace (beyond its price) is the small microSD slot on the right there. Josh Miller/CNET

The Memo Pad ships with Android 4.1.2 (Jelly Bean) and its interface follows the same style as the Nexus 7's, with a toolbar of apps at the bottom or right side of the screen, depending on the tablet’s orientation.

The Memo Pad has a 1,024x600-pixel-resolution screen, which in 2013 is low, even for a cheap 7-inch tablet. Text is fuzzy whether you’re surfing the Web or reading a book, and it’s an issue I’d be willing to deal with, but for the low-quality panel Asus chose to house inside.

It's difficult to see much of a difference in screen quality between the Nexus 7 (left) and Memo Pad in this pic, but trust me: in person, it's readily apparent. Josh Miller/CNET

The Memo Pad likely uses a twisted nematic (TN) panel. The biggest issue with TN displays is their narrow viewing angles, which simply means that details and colors get increasingly difficult to see when the screen is viewed from the sides, top, or bottom. With a large 20-inch display that sits on your desktop, 2 feet in front of you, this is rarely an issue; however, on a much smaller 7-inch screen that you’re much more likely to move around and adjust, whether you’re playing a game or reading a book, it can, as it does here, quickly become an issue. I really think we've moved past the point where using a TN panel on a tablet is acceptable, despite the cost savings it affords.

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