16 January 2012

Huawei MediaPad tablet

NEW DELHI: You may think the 7-inch form factor for tablets is old and tired, thanks to the bunch of no-name and budget tablets crowding this space. But Huawei's MediaPad will make you change your mind.

It certainly is an impressive 7-inch tablet: unibody metal construction, excellent fit and build quality, useful ports (microHDMI, microUSB , 3.5mm audio), great performance and high-quality screen. A removable triangular panel on the back hides the SIM and microSD card slot - although it's plastic, it does not detract from overall appearance.

The display has a resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels - you get sharp output and first-rate touch response. The hardware matches up with most highend tablets available today. It runs stock Android 3.2 on a dual core 1.2Ghz processor with 1GB RAM with 8GB storage expandable via microSD card. Thanks to the hardware and the fact that Android 3.2 is optimised for devices with smaller displays, the performance (general navigation, running apps, multimedia and gaming) is terrific. Purely for multimedia playback, the MediaPad is fantastic.

It supports most common video formats and plays HD movies without a hitch. Video playback is smooth without any jitters or visible artifacts and it even allows for seamless forward and reverse skipping.

In terms of audio, the sound output is very loud thanks to the dual speakers. However, the placement of both speakers on the same side of the tablet did lead to the output being muffled when the tablet was held from the left side. The music player did not detect files copied directly to the tablet's storage - it requires that music be transferred using Huawei's Tablet Manager software.

A workaround for that is to play audio files using the file manager, through the gallery or by installing a third-party audio player. At the back is a 5MP autofocus camera that takes average quality images in daylight.

Using the camera indoors and under dark conditions is best avoided, as images are full of noise with significant amounts of purple fringing. An LED flash would be helpful, but the tablet lacks one. Video recording is done in 720p HD resolution by both front and rear cameras but suffers from excessive noise.

With automatic brightness, Wi-Fi connectivity and mixed use of apps and multimedia, the MediaPad was able to provide a 5 hour battery backup. Currently, the MediaPad is the only 7-inch Wi-Fi + 3G tablet running Android 3.2 tablet in India. At the same price, you can get Android 3.1 tablets with larger screens ( Acer Iconia Tab 501) with similar hardware. Or you could consider the single core HTC Flyer which has dropped to 22,000 after a recent price cut.

Some real competition for the MediaPad will arrive once Samsung launches the Galaxy Tab 7.0plus - a 7-inch Android 3.2 tablet with similar hardware and connectivity options and is expected to be priced about the same.

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