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Posts tagged ‘KitKat’

24
Jan
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Google addresses WebView security concerns, makes recommendations on how to stay safe


Android Security

If you are still waiting for Google to do something about the WebView vulnerabilities in older Android releases, you may not be a fan of their official response to the matter. Google says they’ve already fixed it, sort of, but at least offered ways that you can protect yourself and your data going forward.

In a recent Google+ post, echoing an older DevBytes video and our own take on the matter, Google has addressed the WebView issues that have been of growing target for complaints of the free and open source Android OS. Android releases prior to KitKat, that is, versions 4.3 and older, have a known code injection flaw in the WebView element.

WebView is broken, don’t use it

WebView is a tool within Android that allows apps to display web content within the app, you’ve all seen these before as ads at the bottom of a free game or an in-app web based help page. Although the Google+ post goes on to describe a few best practices, the underlying message is unforgiving and clear, WebView is broken, so don’t use it.

Perhaps Google’s advice is easier said than done, especially for the casual gamers in the crowd, but disabling the default Android browser and installing Chrome, Dolphin or another full web browser is good advice regardless the issues. Developers, please familiarize yourself with the best practices for your apps, to keep us secure.

android 4.4 kitkat logo 4

Now, didn’t you say that Google fixed the issue? Well, yes, sort of. Google took the time in the Google+ post to explain that they have limited resources for working on older versions of Android. Plainly put, Android 4.4 KitKat included the fix to the WebView bug. Keeping in mind that KitKat is over a year old now itself, having been through versions up to 4.4.4 before giving way to Android 5.0 Lollipop, which is also a couple versions in already. Android 5.0.2 Lollipop is already shipping out to some devices.

Bottom line, users of devices running Jellybean and older are just out of luck. Please take the precautions discussed, or have a look at installing a custom ROM, if one is available for your Android unit.

Is this an acceptable response from Google, or should they dedicate more staff to fixing older Android releases? Before you answer, I might suggest taking a look at the latest Android distribution numbers.



4
Jan
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Xiaomi announces Redmi 2S, launches in China


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Xiaomi is keeping its momentum going as it just launched the Redmi 2S in China earlier today. The device is a budget-class smartphone and will cost a mere $113. The Redmi 2S is the successor to the Redmi 1S (also sometimes called the Hongmi 1S), which was launched in May 2014.

The specs for the Redmi 2S aren’t anything spectacular, but it also won’t break your wallet. The display is 4.7-inches with 720p IPS. The cameras are 8MP and 2MP, back and front respectively. The main feature of this phone is the addition of a 4G LTE antenna, which supports GSM, WCDMA, TD LTE and LTE FDD networks.

So, what’s under the hood in terms of processors? Keep reading after the break.

The processor that is shipping with this phone is the 64-bit Snapdragon 410. It’ll be running with 1GB of RAM and have 8GB of storage capacity, all powered by a 2200mAh battery.

The Redmi 2S is shipping with Android KitKat 4.4, and not Lollipop. The reason I bring this up is that, along with the 1GB of RAM, the inclusion of a 64-bit processor is fluff.

Firstly, the Play Store still mainly features apps that are created for 32-bit processors. Unless those apps were created in Java, it’s still going to take some time to make the shift to 64-bit. Secondly, Android 5.0 really sets the stage for 64-bit processing and without it an average user may never really notice any speed differences between 32-bit and 64-bit. Finally, it is only coming with 1GB of RAM. There are many perks to 64-bit processors outside of that >4GB of RAM argument, but the Redmi 2S doesn’t appear to be taking advantage of anything with the addition of a 64-bit CPU.

In closing, I would not recommend this device unless you just have to have 4G LTE because you’re not around WiFi often enough, or you just have an extra $100 laying around burning a hole through your wallet. Alternatively, if your smartphone just broke and all you have is a $100 for a new device, you could consider the Redmi 2S.

Source: GizmoChina

Come comment on this article: Xiaomi announces Redmi 2S, launches in China

4
Nov
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Monthly Android Distribution Infographic Shows KitKat on 30% of Devices



android-distribution


It’s a new month, and that means we get a new infographic showing us the Android distribution on those devices out there. As you can see by the numbers, KitKat has climbed to 30% taking the much deserved lead to all the other versions of Android. That percentage will most likely still rise in numbers, even though the next update we will have some of that beautiful Android Lollipop on it. Let us know what version of Android you are currently running on your devices.

Source: Droid-Life


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The post Monthly Android Distribution Infographic Shows KitKat on 30% of Devices appeared first on AndroidSPIN.

4
Nov
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KitKat now powers over 30% of all Android devices


November Distribution Figures

Google has just published its latest distribution figures for the Android operating system. The numbers were uploaded to the official Developer Dashboard blog and reveal a consistent growth in the amount of users running KitKat (4.4), whilst older versions of the OS continue on their long path towards extinction.

As is the norm, this data was collected by recording which operating systems customers were running when they accessed the Google Play Store over a 7-day period, which ended on Tuesday, November 3, 2014. This consequently gives Google an insight as to which version of Android is running on active devices all around the world. The team at Mountain View then break down this information and condense it into a pie chart for us to comb through.

You’ll immediately notice that Cupcake, Donut, Eclair and Honeycomb are missing from the chart – this doesn’t mean they no longer exist, because they do. In actual fact, they’re absent because the earlier builds of the operating system can no longer access the updated version of the Play Store. However, Google did create a separate post suggesting that “versions older than Android 2.2 accounted for about 1% of the devices that checked in to Google servers.”

As you can see Froyo is almost at the point of being wiped out, holding just 0.6% of the Android market share — down 0.1% from September’s reading. Gingerbread has decreased dramatically, now measuring in at 1.6% under last month’s 11.4%.

The amount of users running Ice Cream Sandwich (4.0.3 – 4.0.4) seems to have reduced slightly, too, with total market distribution dropping down to 8.5%. That’s a 1.1% decrease from last month’s 9.6%. The data also exhibits that the usage of Jelly Bean (4.1.x – 4.3) has also declined, dropping down from 53.8% to 50.9%.

KitKat (4.4) is the only version of the operating system to face an increase this month, with an inflation of a whopping 5.7%, now weighing in at 30.2% of the total market share. Clearly, more people are purchasing Android 4.4-compatible smartphones and tablets, which is great as it means that the operating system can continue to expand, without leaving any users with outdated devices behind.

Do you want to find out more about these latest distribution figures? If so, simply head on over to the Android Developer Dashboard by clicking the source link below.

Source: Android Developer Dashboard

Come comment on this article: KitKat now powers over 30% of all Android devices

10
Oct
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Lenovo intros the Android-powered Tablet 2 and Tablet 2 Pro


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Lenovo has just announced a few premium tablets to their YOGA lineup. Let’s take a look to see what they’ve just released.

Lenovo YOGA Tablet 2

Tablet 2

The YOGA tablet lineup has long been a frontrunner in unique design, offering a kickstand with the majority of the offerings. The Tablet 2 is no exception, now with a kickstand that can rotate almost 180 degrees for maximum comfort. The big feature here is the new Hang Mode, which basically means it can be positioned anywhere comfortably. The Tablet 2 also offers two big front-facing Dolby Audio speakers, a 1080p display, and an Intel Atom quad core processor.

The YOGA Tablet 2 comes in two different sizes: 8 or 10 inches. Both tablets also have an 8MP rear-facing camera, 1.6MP front-facing camera, 2GB of RAM, and 16GB on board storage, with MicroSD card support for up to 64GB. Check out the full list of specs below.


Processor: Intel® AtomTM Processor Z3745 (2M cache, 4 cores, up to 1.86 GHz)

Operating System: Android 4.4 KitKat

Display/Resolution: 8-in or 10.1-in Full HD (1920×1200) IPS display with 10-point multitouch & 178o wide viewing angle

Color: Platinum Silver

Memory: 2GB LP-DDR3 memory

Storage: 16GB, Supporting Micro SD card up to 64 GB

Audio: 2x front large-chamber speakers, Dolby® Audio, Wolfson® Master Hi-Fi

Ports: Micro USB (OTG), 3.5 mm audio jack, Micro SD card

Connectivity: 802.11b/g/n Dual-Band Wi-Fi (2.4 and 5 GHz) , Optional 4G (in select countries, not US): WCDMA (900/2100 MHz)1, GSM/EDGE (900/1800/1900 MHz)1, Integrated Bluetooth® 4.02

Camera: 8MP f2.2 rear camera with Auto-focus, 1.6M HD front camera

Battery: Extended battery life with up to 18 hours on a single charge

Weight: 8-in model: 0.92 lbs (419 g), 10-in model: 1.36 lbs (619 g)

Dimensions: 8-in model: 8.3 in x 5.9 x (.1 – .3) in [210 mm x 149 mm x (2.7 – 7.0) mm], 10-in model: 10.0 in x 7.2 in x (.1 -.3) in inches [ 255 mm x 183 mm x (3.0-7.2) mm] 

Lenovo YOGA Tablet 2 Pro

convertibletablet_yogatablet2_tilt_S_13_MWV_A_H_1405200288VIDEO

The YOGA Tablet 2 Pro aims to give users a unique home theater experience. It offers a 13.3-inch Quad HD screen, along with a built-in projector to create a 50-inch home theater experience on any wall. The Tablet 2 Pro also has the same kickstand as the Tablet 2 offerings, able to rotate almost 180 degrees. These new kickstands aim to give users more options while using it. The included “modes” that are possible are Hold, Stand, Tilt, or Hang.

The Tablet 2 Pro has an 8MP rear-facing camera, 1.6MP front-facing camera, 2GB of RAM, 32GB of on-board storage, with MicroSD card support for up to 64GB. Let’s take a look at the official spec list:


Processor: Intel® AtomTM Processor Z3745 (2M cache, 4 cores, up to 1.86 GHz)

Operating System: Android v4.4 KitKat

Display/Resolution: 13.3-in Quad HD (2560×1440) IPS display

Color: Platinum Silver

Memory: 2GB LPDDR3

Storage: 32GB, Supporting Micro SD card up to 64GB

Audio: 2x front large-chamber speakers with 1.5W output each, plus a 5W rear JBL®subwoofer for a total 8W surround system. Dolby® Audio, Wolfson® Master Hi-Fi

Ports: Micro USB (OTG), 3.5 mm audio jack, Micro SD card

Connectivity: 802.11b/g/n Dual-Band Wi-Fi (2.4 and 5 GHz) , Optional 4G1 (in select countries, not US): WCDMA (900/2100

Camera: 8MP f2.2 rear camera with Auto-focus, 1.6M HD front camera

Projector: 40-50 Lumen Pico Projector with WVGA (854×480) Resolution

Battery: Extended battery life with up to 15 hours on a single charge

Weight: 2.09 lbs (950 g)

Dimensions: 13.1 in x 8.8 in x 0.1-0.5 in (333 mm x 223 mm x 3.7-12.6 mm)

Check out more coverage on the Lenovo YOGA Tablet lineup in the future here at AndroidGuys!


 
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The post Lenovo intros the Android-powered Tablet 2 and Tablet 2 Pro appeared first on AndroidGuys.

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18
Aug
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KitKat rollouts begin for the Sony Xperia M2 and M2 Dual



Ten days ago Sony announced that an Android 4.4, KitKat, update was available fro the Sony Xperia E1 and E1 dual. Pending location and carrier pushes, of course. At the end of that announcement they said that KitKat was on the way for the Sony Xperia M2 and Xperia M2 dual next. While they were all slated for a July release, a month late ins’t all that terrible.

Sony Xperia M2 Android 4.4


The changelog for what the update will bring looks pretty good, and very similar to previous Sony device updates.

  • Google’s Android 4.4; KitKat as standard – bringing performance & UI optimisation…
  • We’ve added our tweaked Status Bar and Quick Settings… now more intuitive and customisable (and pretty easy on the eye)… cleaned up to ensure you only get the notifications you really need
  • If you’ve got a Sony PlayStation 4, you might recognize our new user interface – we’ve added the same sleek launch animation and live wallpaper across the lock and home screens
  • Better storage choice – you now have the option to easily move applications from internal memory to SD card – we recognised the need to have more control over your content… as something particularly useful for devices with slightly less space
  • We’re also uplifting Sony’s entire native app portfolio to the latest versions – bringing tweaked / improved / current experiences for (to name but a few): Messaging, Smart Connect, TrackID, What’s New, and Battery STAMINA Mode, Sony’s Media apps: WALKMAN, Album and Movies
  • And proving pretty popular, now totalling over 2 million downloads (!) – our unique custom interface experience: “Xperia Themes”, with downloadable UI packs from Sony Select – skin up to 280 assets across your Xperia smartphone with a variety of styles…
  • Compatibility with our SmartWear Experience; SmartBand SWR10 and Lifelog app – enabling you to record social, physical and entertainment activities and have them all visualised in a beautiful interface… reminisce at that past, make the best of the present and plan for the future

As with any update like this, specific market timing and availability will be released independently. Unlike the previous announcement, Sony didn’t toss out any device names that are next up. If you happen to own a Xperia M2 or M2 Dual, eel free to check for the update on your device and/or through the Sony Companion app. Let us know if you see it and where you are located.

Source: Sony Blog


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13
Aug
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KitKat is now running on more than 20 percent of Android devices


LG G3

In case there was any doubt that KitKat now has a solid foothold in the Android world, Google just offered some proof. Its usage data for early August shows that KitKat is on more than a fifth of active Android devices, at 20.9 percent. That’s a healthy improvement over July (17.9 percent), and a big leap over the 14.9 percent we saw in June. The folks in Mountain View aren’t explaining the steady growth, but it’s easy to figure out what’s going on — big-name devices like the LG G3 and Samsung Galaxy Tab S are bringing this latest OS flavor to a wider audience, and many older gadgets are still getting upgrades.

To no one’s surprise, that surge is coming at the expense of older releases. Every pre-KitKat version has declined, and Ice Cream Sandwich is only just floating above the 10 percent mark; at its current rate, it’s going to (finally) reach the single digits very soon. Whether or not KitKat ever reaches the majority is another matter. Android L is just a few months away, and it’s a big enough update that its predecessor might not grow quickly for much longer.

Android version share, August 2014

Filed under: Cellphones, Tablets, Mobile, Google

Comments

Via: Droid-Life

Source: Android Developers

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8
Aug
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KitKat update rolling out for Sony Xperia E1 and E1 Dual



Sony has been working pretty hard to get their devices updated to Android 4.4 KitKat over the last several months. While the stateside devices have been lacking in updates, the rest of the worlds variants are moving right along. Today the Sony blog has alerted users of the Sony Xperia E1 and the E1 Dual that the KitKat update is ready for your downloading pleasure. Yes, a little later than expected, but it is official at least.

Sony Xperia E1 KitKat

  • Google’s Android 4.4; KitKat as standard – bringing performance & UI optimisation…
  • We’ve added our tweaked Status Bar and Quick Settings… now more intuitive and customisable (and pretty easy on the eye)… cleaned up to ensure you only get the notifications you really need
  • If you’ve got a Sony PlayStation 4, you might recognize our new user interface – we’ve added the same sleek launch animation and livewallpaper across the lock and home screens
  • Better storage choice – you now have the option to easily move applications from internal memory to SD card – we recognised the need to have more control over your content… as something particularly useful for devices with slightly less space
  • We’re also uplifting Sony’s entire native app portfolio to the latest versions – bringing tweaked / improved / current experiences for (to name but a few): Messaging, Smart Connect, TrackID, Sony Select, and Battery STAMINA Mode, Sony’s Media apps: WALKMAN, Album and Movies
  • And proving pretty popular, now totaling over 2 million downloads (!) – our unique custom interface experience: “Xperia Themes”, with downloadable UI packs from Sony Select – skin up to 280 assets across your Xperia smartphone with a variety of styles…


As with all updates though, your region and carrier could put a slowmo process on the update offering. I assume that the update will be handled via the Sony PC Companion as well as via a traditional OTA. However, I have noticed some devices will only be updated via the Sony PC Companion. You may want to hook your device up to your PC and see if you have an update waiting for there.

Next on the docket of devices to get some KitKat treatment from Sony is the Xperia M2 and M2 Dual. So rest assured if you own one of those devices that you will see something soon.

Source: Sony Blog


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4
Aug
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Kogan’s latest phone one-ups the Moto G LTE with a bigger screen


Kogan Agora 4G

The Moto G LTE offers a lot of smartphone for the money, but Kogan reckons that’s not quite enough value for your hard-earned cash — the Aussie outfit just brought its latest smartphone, the Agora 4G, to the US and UK. Pay the same $219 (£149) you would for Motorola’s device and you’ll get a larger 5-inch screen, an 8-megapixel rear camera and a beefier 2,500mAh battery on top of speedy LTE data (on AT&T) and a quad-core Snapdragon processor. Sounds great, doesn’t it?

Well, we’d be a little cautious before diving in. It’s a big step up from the Agora HD we tried this spring with both a faster processor and that all-important 4G internet access, but it’s otherwise a familiar design — we’d expect the HD’s so-so camera performance and quirky software to carry over. If the Moto G LTE is a little too compact for your liking, though, the Agora 4G is likely to be on your short list of alternatives.

Filed under: Cellphones, Mobile

Comments

Source: Kogan

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1
Aug
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ASUS MeMO Pad 7 and 8 review: small, speedy tablets that cut a few corners


ASUS MeMO Pad 7 and 8

The MeMO Pad HD 7 was arguably the sleeper hit among small tablets in 2013. ASUS’ device didn’t have the speed of the Nexus 7 or the interface tricks of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 3 line, but it was superbly balanced. It ran smoothly, packed smart software and (most importantly) carried a sub-$200 price. For that reason, this year’s MeMO Pad 7 and 8 are potentially exciting; they stick to that familiar formula while bringing in faster processors and a fresher interface. What’s not to like? As you’ll find out in our review, there are a few aspects that definitely need improvement, or even take steps backward — but it’s also clear that ASUS has budget-tablet design down to a science.

Hardware

ASUS MeMO Pad 7

The strongest evidence of ASUS’ if-it-ain’t-broken philosophy manifests on the outside. If you’ve used either the MeMO Pad HD 7 or HD 8, the basic layouts of their MeMO Pad 7 and 8 sequels will be very recognizable. And that’s mostly a good thing. They’re easy to hold, with rounded edges and side buttons that you’re unlikely to hit by accident. You’ll find micro-USB and headphone ports on the top, the power and volume controls on the right and a microSDXC storage slot on the left. There’s little on the front besides the company logo and the front-facing camera (0.3 megapixel on the Pad 7, two megapixels on the Pad 8). On the back, you’ll spot a rear camera above (two and five megapixels, respectively), and stereo speakers below.

That’s not to say that ASUS is simply recycling its hardware. Both of the new entries are a tad thinner and lighter than their predecessors. The 7-inch MeMO Pad 7 is the featherweight of the bunch, at 0.65 pound and 0.37 inch thick; its 8-inch counterpart is unsurprisingly heavier, at 0.7 pound, but it’s also slimmer at 0.3 inch. The designs are narrower than last year’s models too (4.4 and 4.9 inches, respectively), so they’re ever so slightly easier to grab with one hand. I was happy to use either for significant stretches of time without propping them up on my lap; these are fine devices for reading on the couch or playing games that demand a two-handed grip.

ASUS MeMO Pad 8

That conservative design approach does mean the MeMO Pads inherit a few flaws. Those buttons may prevent unintended presses, but they’re also harder to activate on purpose. Since you can’t see them most of the time or quickly identify them by feel, it’s all too easy to accidentally lower the volume when you meant to put the device to sleep, or vice versa. The matte finishes also have their quirks. The 7-inch slate’s smooth backing tends to stay relatively pristine (at least in a red hue), but it’s a bit slippery; the textured 8-inch model is more stable in my hands, but it picks up lint like nobody’s business. The MeMO Pad 8′s new camera layout also doesn’t do anyone any favors. ASUS has moved the camera from near the center to the corner, making it a little too trivial to block the lens when you’re shooting. The Pad 7′s rear shooter is in the same position as on the HD 7, though, so you won’t easily smudge its glass.

Not much has changed on the inside apart from the processor, although that’s not shocking given that the Pad 7 and 8 cost just $150 and $200 respectively. In US models, you’ll still see 16GB of built-in storage (11.1GB free), 802.11n WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0. Sadly, there’s no HDMI output, so you’ll have to lean on Miracast streaming to send video to a TV. ASUS does have an ace in the hole with its built-in GPS and GLONASS positioning, however. You can use any of these devices for navigation so long as you have offline maps; many rivals, including iPads, can’t do that unless you buy their cellular-equipped variants.

Display and sound

ASUS MeMO Pad 8 display

Although the MeMO Pad 7 and 8 are separated by an inch in screen size, you get the same basic display technology: a 1,280 x 800, IPS-based LCD. Neither tablet’s screen is especially sharp (the Nexus 7 and Dell’s Venue 8 have much crisper-looking 1,920 x 1,200 panels), but they’re reasonably attractive for the price you’re paying. Both deliver rich colors that aren’t overdone, and you only really lose brightness when you look at them from sharp angles. There are a few practical differences beyond the raw surface area, mind you. The Pad 8′s display is a bit brighter, at a high 400 nits versus 330. Either model is easily visible indoors, but you’ll definitely want the larger slab if you venture outside. I also noticed that the Pad 8 had a warmer, slightly yellowish color cast out of the box, although ASUS’ Splendid screen utility makes it easy to dial that out.

Really, it all comes down to dimensions. Just how much screen real estate do you need? Having held the two MeMO Pads side by side, I can safely say that you’ll want the 8-inch version if you can at all swing the extra cash. It’s much easier on my eyes for long gaming and reading sessions, and it gives me more overall breathing room than I get with the cramped 7-incher. The lower pixel density isn’t a problem at normal viewing distances, in my experience. The tinier hardware will do if you don’t have the money or free space for the bigger hardware, but it’s tougher to justify in an era when many smartphones aren’t that much smaller.

There’s a similar split when it comes to sound quality. While the MeMO Pad 7′s stereo speakers are clear-sounding, they’re a bit quiet and lack even the vaguest hint of bass. The Pad 8 isn’t an audio powerhouse, but it produces louder, fuller output that’s just good enough to make me forego my headphones. With that said, the stereo separation on both tablets is virtually nonexistent. I’d really like to see ASUS put the speakers on opposite ends, like it does with the larger Transformer Pad TF103C.

Software

ASUS MeMO Pad 7 ZenUI up close

If you’ve read our review of the new Transformer Pad, you’ll know what to expect software-wise. The two MeMO Pads are running the same ZenUI interface, which spruces up Android 4.4.2 KitKat with a trendy “flat” look and a handful of customizations. ASUS strikes a careful balance between adding its own flourishes and leaving Android’s better features alone. You’ll get quick settings, some well-done media galleries and app drawer sorting, but multitasking and most other Google-made elements remain intact. Yes, that means you’ll miss out on multi-window support and other perks from heavier Android skins, like what you get on Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 4 line. Still, it’s hard to object to ZenUI’s more restrained approach — it’s simple, colorful and responsive.

There isn’t an avalanche of preloaded software, either. ASUS’ own titles are dominated by simple utilities like the previously mentioned Splendid display tool, What’s Next (a simplified calendar view) and Do It Later (a to-do list). The more substantial apps are a mixed bag. SuperNote is great for scribbling and typing notes, but I just couldn’t find a use for Story’s diary-keeping abilities. The third-party app selection, meanwhile, is small, yet smart. Flipboard and Kindle are practically must-haves for reading, and I can see some subscribing to either eMusic’s song-download service or some of Zinio’s magazines.

Performance and battery life

ASUS MeMO Pad 7 and 8 ** Nexus 7 (2013) Samsung Galaxy Tab S *** Amazon Kindle Fire HDX (7-inch)
Quadrant 2.0 19,495 6,133 18,591 19,655
Vellamo 2.0 1,933 1,597 1,672 N/A
SunSpider 1.0.2 (ms)* 607 602 1,109 554
3DMark IS Unlimited 14,171 N/A 12,431 N/A
GFXBench 3.0 Manhattan Offscreen (fps) 7.5 N/A 5.5 N/A
CF-Bench 22,284 15,366 31,695 N/A

*SunSpider: Lower scores are better.

**Average score for the 7- and 8-inch models.

***Average score for the 8.4- and 10.5-inch models.

Don’t expect to see a performance gap between the two MeMO Pads… or the TF103C, for that matter. They’re all using the same quad-core, 1.33GHz Atom Z3745 processor with 1GB of RAM, which means the benchmark scores are virtually interchangeable. Not that there’s much room to complain. As you can see above, either of the entry-level tablets can match or beat more expensive challengers. It’s not shocking that they can outpace ASUS’ own Nexus 7, a year-old device using an even older processor. However, they also fare well against Amazon’s speedy Kindle Fire HDX, and even the premium Galaxy Tab S 8.4 — not too shabby when you’re paying up to $250 less.

The numbers translate well to the real world. The Atom chip doesn’t break a sweat while navigating through the interface, and it’s equally adept at both web browsing and intensive 3D games like Real Racing 3. As I touched on with the Transformer Pad, the low resolution goes some way toward easing the workload. You don’t need a rocket to power a paper airplane, after all. However, the offscreen graphics tests suggest that neither MeMO Pad would have much trouble handling 1080p. It’s just a shame that the displays can’t match the might of what’s under the hood.

ASUS MeMO Pad 8 surfing the web

More memory would be nice, too. Although the devices didn’t get bogged down as I juggled different apps, it’s evident that 1GB of RAM isn’t quite enough for very demanding apps. One benchmark I ran would randomly spit “out of memory” errors, even after rebooting to give it as many resources as possible. You might never encounter these problems yourself, but I’m concerned that the MeMO Pads could choke on software a year or two down the road.

I don’t have similar reservations about the battery life. Where the Transformer Pad TF103C’s runtime was disappointing for its size class, both the MeMO Pad 7 and 8 are at least on par for their price tier, if not a bit above average. ASUS claims that both of them should last for nine hours when looping a 720p video at a low 100-nit brightness, but that’s fairly conservative. In my testing, which upped the brightness to the halfway mark and threw in periodic updates from Facebook and Twitter, both gadgets were still within the ballpark of that official estimate. The 7-inch unit managed a respectable eight hours and 36 minutes before shutting down, or enough to trump the current Nexus 7 and multiple older Samsung tablets. Meanwhile, the 8-inch model lasted for nine hours and 21 minutes, putting it ahead of both the TF103C and Sony’s Xperia Z Tablet series. Neither result holds a candle to the longevity of the Galaxy Tab S, ASUS HD 7 or most iPads, but they’re more than acceptable given the blend of raw power and discount pricing.

Tablet Battery Life
ASUS MeMO Pad 8 9:21
ASUS MeMO Pad 7 8:36
Microsoft Surface 2 14:22
iPad Air 13:45 (LTE)
Apple iPad mini 12:43 (WiFi)
Samsung Galaxy Tab S (10-inch) 12:30
Samsung Galaxy Tab S (8-inch) 12:22
Apple iPad mini with Retina display 11:55 (LTE)
Apple iPad (late 2012) 11:08 (WiFi)
ASUS Transformer Book T100 10:40
Apple iPad 2 10:26
Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 10:04
ASUS MeMO Pad HD 7 9:56
Apple iPad (2012) 9:52 (HSPA) / 9:37 (LTE)
Acer Iconia W4 9:50
Nexus 7 (2012) 9:49
Microsoft Surface RT 9:36
Toshiba Encore 8:45
Sony Xperia Tablet Z 8:40
ASUS Transformer Pad TF103C 8:26
Sony Xperia Z2 Tablet 7:57
Nexus 10 7:26
Dell Venue 8 Pro 7:19
Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 7:18
Nexus 7 (2013) 7:15
Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 7:13
Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 10.1 6:55

And in real life, the battery is healthy enough that you likely won’t notice the difference. I can get through a day of moderate browsing, social networking and photography even on the MeMO Pad 7, and I had less to worry about with the Pad 8. Heavy-duty gaming chews up a lot of that precious energy, although you can counter that by invoking a special energy-saving mode that cuts internet access when the tablets aren’t in use. It’s a last-ditch measure, to be sure, but it might save your hide if you need a working device at the end of a daylong trip.

Camera

ASUS MeMO Pad 8 camera sample

Here’s where ASUS seemingly backtracks on its earlier successes. I lauded the MeMO Pad HD 7 for having solid cameras, but you’re not guaranteed a similar experience with its 2014 follow-ups; to achieve what I saw in the HD 7, you’ll have to spring for the costlier MeMO Pad 8. Its 5-megapixel autofocusing rear camera is nothing special with noisy low-light shots, blown-out highlights and processing that tends to erase finer details, but it generally produces accurate colors and can take reasonably well-exposed photos in dim indoor environments. The front 2-megapixel sensor is similarly unremarkable, but it’s good enough for an HD-quality video call or selfie. Whichever camera you use, there’s a fairly sophisticated set of filters and manual camera settings, so you can add an effect or tweak the white balance if an image isn’t quite to your liking.

It’s the MeMO Pad 7 that you have to watch out for. ASUS has dropped the HD 7′s 5-megapixel back camera in favor of a 2-megapixel, fixed-focus shooter, much like that in the TF103C. Predictably, the downgraded equipment is terrible — you can’t get close to many subjects without losing focus; colors are slightly off; and shots in anything less than good lighting generate an abundance of noise. Both this and the equally lackluster 0.3-megapixel front camera are serviceable if you only need to capture a chalkboard or join a Hangouts chat, but they’re unfortunate regressions on a tablet that’s otherwise a big leap forward.

The competition

ASUS MeMO Pad 7 showing its competition

Just what represents competition will depend heavily on whether you’re considering a MeMO Pad 7 or 8. The smaller slab may be the easiest choice. Poor cameras notwithstanding, the Pad 7 outmuscles much of what you’ll find around its $150 sticker. Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD, Barnes & Noble’s Nook HD, LG’s G Pad 7.0 and Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 4 7.0 are slower and carry less storage. The Kindle and Nook don’t even have any cameras to speak of, while LG and Samsung don’t offer much more photographic prowess than ASUS. HP’s Tegra 4-packing, $200 Slate 7 Extreme is no real threat either. The biggest danger may come from Dell’s Venue 7, which offers noticeably higher-resolution cameras (if also a slightly pokier Atom chip) for $10 more. Neither the Kindle Fire HDX nor the Nexus 7 justify their premiums as much as they did roughly a year ago — $80 more gets you an exceptional screen and perks like the Nexus’ wireless charging, but they’re not faster.

Move up to eight inches and it gets trickier. Frankly, the Venue 8 may be a better buy than the MeMO Pad 8 if you’re interested in getting the best hardware possible for $200. It’s using a dual-core Atom, but it has a far nicer 1,920 x 1,200 LCD for a similar hit to your wallet. You will get more for your moolah than other tablets can typically muster, though. The G Pad 8.0 isn’t available in the US yet, and the $270 Galaxy Tab 4 8.0 is both more expensive and comparatively sluggish. If you’re open to trying Windows, keep your eye on the Venue 8 Pro; Amazon affiliates frequently sell it for as little as $200, and it may be worth giving up some battery life in the name of a desktop-class operating system or (optional) pen input.

Wrap-up

ASUS MeMO Pad 7 and 8 en repose

Of the two MeMO Pads, I’d choose the 8-inch model without hesitation, as it’s simply a better bargain. Spending $50 more nets you better cameras, longer battery life and that all-important larger display. The 7-inch system offers superb speed for a $150 tablet, but it’s somewhat hobbled by the downgraded cameras. I’d make the sacrifice, as I rarely snap photos with any tablet, but it isn’t as well-rounded as last year’s MeMO Pad HD 7.

It’s a harder call when pitting ASUS against its opponents. While it should be clear by now that the MeMO Pads can take on most any task you’d expect from a mobile tablet, they’re not the best at everything; you can find nicer screens and cameras without much difficulty, especially if you’re willing to go beyond the $200 mark. I don’t think that specs alone tell the whole story, though. ASUS makes a good case for custom Android interfaces. ZenUI is more helpful than the largely stock Android implementation on the Dell Venue 7 or 8, yet it never gets in your way. I can comfortably recommend both the MeMO Pad 7 and 8, but you do have to be aware of what you’re giving up — these aren’t so much sleeper hits as they are wisely calculated trade-offs.

Filed under: Tablets, Mobile, ASUS

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