By the end of this month, Amazon's Kindle Fire may no longer be the cheapest "real" tablet out there. PC hardware manufacturer Asus, the brand name behind Google's Nexus 7 device, is coming out with another 7-inch tablet called the Asus MeMO Pad, which will start at $149. The MeMO Pad will launch in "selected markets" this January, and will make it to the United States sometime in April, according to Phandroid's Kevin Krause.
Here's a look at the features the MeMO Pad has that the Kindle Fire and Nexus 7 don't, and what got cut to bring it in under the $150 mark.
A look at the hardware
About the same size and shape as other 7-inch tablets, the MeMO Pad is powered by an underwhelming 1 GHz single-core processor from VIA, putting it roughly in line with a budget smartphone performance-wise. It has 1 GB of RAM, 8 GB of internal storage, and basic features like a front-facing webcam and a microSD card slot for expandable storage. The MeMO Pad will come in gray, white, and pink.
Jelly Bean under the hood
While the Kindle Fire runs Amazon's proprietary version of Android (which is so heavily modified as to basically be a "Kindle OS"), the MeMO Pad runs the same up-to-date version of Android as the Nexus 7, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. Unlike with the Nexus device, however, which is loaded exclusively with Google apps to start with, Asus saw fit to bundle about a half-dozen of its own apps as well, like "SuperNote Lite" and "ASUS Studio."
Unlike the Kindle Fire, which can only buy apps from Amazon's store, the MeMO Pad will have the Google Play store (the former Android Market) preinstalled. It will be able to install the Amazon Appstore and Kindle app as well, just like other Android devices can.
Compared to other tablets
The device which compares closest, price-wise, to the MeMO Pad is Amazon's $159 Kindle Fire. For the price, you get half the RAM but a dual-core 1.2 GHz processor, as well as another hour or so of battery life. The Kindle lacks the MeMO Pad's webcam or expandable memory, but the biggest tradeoff may be the Kindle's pure Amazon experience -- complete with ads on your homescreen -- versus the MeMO Pad's almost-pure Android.
Asus' own Nexus 7 starts at $199 and lacks expandable memory, but for the price you get 16 GB of storage instead of 8. (That's more than double when you consider that Android and Asus' apps take up part of it.) It has a much sharper screen than the MeMO Pad, and a much more powerful Tegra 3 processor, which is capable of playing "THD" enhanced games. Finally, it has (more expensive) 3G options, and is available now instead of in April.
Jared Spurbeck is an open-source software enthusiast, who uses an Android phone and an Ubuntu laptop PC. He has been writing about technology and electronics since 2008.
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