Review: Huawei MediaPad 7 PDF Print E-mail

Chinese multinational communications giant Huawei has finally brought its MediaPad 7 to South Africa. 

The 7-inch tablet packs a walloping 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon chipset and a gig of RAM, which plays full HD with ease.

In 2010, Steve Jobs said that 7inch tablets were 'DOA' (for those of you who don’t listen to police/ambulance radio chatter – that's "dead on arrival").

Of course, he made this prediction of doom while complimenting his own products, but many still assumed his prophecy would be correct. Yet, Huawei proved him wrong. The Huawei MediaPad 7 (S7-301u) may have a smaller screen then the popular iPad series, but it still proves itself to be a worthy alternative.  

Being a tablet-sceptic, I started using the MediaPad 7 with a bit of apprehension; for one, I wasn't sure what to actually do with it. The first thing I did was ignore 'Angry Birds' and 'Asphalt' and open up 'Yozo Office', attempting to master typing on the touchscreen.

This quickly devolved into playing with various combinations of Chinese characters. Having satisfied myself on the accuracy and control of the touchscreen, I moved on to more series matters.

Despite its overseas release date being closer to the iPad 2 than the more recently released iPad 3, which became available in South Africa in April 2012, has beaten the Huawei here. 

Huawei's MediaPad 7 comes with a stock 8GB, with a microSD card slot for those desiring further storage. However, the hard limit on this extra space is 32GB, meaning that other tablets easily trump this offering. 

The tablet has a crisp 216ppi screen, running at 1280x800. This is good quality, even a year after its original release (to compare: the increased pixel density in the new iPad is 264ppi). 

The MediaPad's Dual-core CPU (clocking in at 1.2Hgz) and Android 3.2 + Honeycomb OS are innately superior for tech enthusiasts, allowing a viable, well-performing alternative to the closed system that Apple delights in. Furthermore, the tablet can easily be upgraded to Ice Cream Sandwich, if you so desire. 

I experienced only a few stutters in my time with the device, and I may even have to blame damaged video files and in one case, the fact that I was copying clips on to the tablet while watching a clip. 

The MediaPad's primary weak points are its battery, terrible PC interface and lack of space. The battery is not removable, and according to Huawei, has a usage-time of approximately 6 hours, but I used up a full charge in less time than that (running Minecraft probably qualifies as 'heavy use', though).
 
I noted, rather annoyingly, that the MediaPad does not charge when connected to a computer via USB, which doesn't seem like much, but for me – finding a spare two prong plug for the wall charger seemed backwards (as funny as that sounds).

Having a wireless connection also seems to drain an inordinate amount of battery life. Rather unhelpful given the puny number of apps that come with the device. 

The PC interface is awkward and unpleasant, especially if you attempt to work through the client. I would advise ensuring that ‘Auto-Open’ for the MTP is checked under its settings, to spare yourself its painful loading times and poor performance.
 
 
Had it arrived earlier, it may have been a highly successful Android-alternative to the iPad dominated market, but its local release delay, coupled with the availability of the new iPad 3, means that at its current pricing (around R4,800) the MediaPad will not likely beat Apple's 'cool-factor'.   
 
A 16GB iPad 2 (Wi-Fi & 3G) is currently priced at around R 5,299. The cheaper MediaPad 7 has increased performance, but shorter battery life and smaller screen size.
 
I'd recommend the MediaPad 7 as SD cards are quite reasonably priced, which addresses the storage problem; and performance, coupled with a smaller frame and being light-weight, makes it a truly use-on-the-go portable device (something that larger tablets claim, but don't achieve as nicely). 
 
IN SUMMARY
 
Pros: Good performance (dual-core CPU and 1GB RAM); full HD playback; stereo-sound; excellent & crisp image quality (216ppi, 1280x800); light (390g) and easily portable.
Cons: Arguably overpriced for a 7-inch; poor battery life; no charge via USB; poor storage space; and limited apps that come with device.
Rating: 7/10
Price: R4,828 on 8ta (no other network is currently stocking it).

Newer news items:
Older news items: