Huawei MediaPad - Mainstream Slate

Launch SRP: S$498

Overview, Design and Features

One of Huawei's Finest

We last saw the Huawei MediaPad during CommunicAsia 2011 where the company proudly unveiled the device. Back then, the Huawei MediaPad created waves in the tablet scene for three key achievements. For starters, it is the world's first 7-inch Android 3.2 Honeycomb tablet (but not the first to be available locally). It is also the first tablet to come with a dual-core 1.2GHz processor at a time when the rest of the tablets were equipped with 1GHz dual-core processors. Lastly, it is the slimmest and lightest tablet by Huawei. 

Achievements aside, the Huawei MediaPad is among the few that occupies the niche market of 7-inch tablets. We have seen the dated Samsung Galaxy Tab, the unique HTC Flyer, the business-centric BlackBerry PlayBook and the affordable Acer Iconia Tab A100. So what does the Huawei MediaPad bring to the table this time around? Let's find out.

How does the Huawei MediaPad fare against the likes of other 7-inch tablets?

 Huawei MediaPad (3G)

  Key highlights of the Huawei MediaPad (3G)

  • Google Android Honeycomb 3.2
  • Qualcomm dual-core 1.2 GHz 
  • 7-inch IPS LCD capacitive touchscreen 
  • 1GB RAM
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n + Bluetooth 2.1
  • 5-megapixel rear camera + 1.3-megapixel front facing camera 
  • 8GB internal storage + microSD expansion (up to 32GB)
  • 4100mAh battery
  • 390g
  • 190 x 124 x 10.5mm
     
  • Price and Availability: S$598 (inclusive of GST) without contract
    Price revision on 4 May 2012 to S$498  

 

Design

One striking aspect of the MediaPad's design is its aluminum unibody design. The metallic build gives a very solid feel to the device, putting the MediaPad in the league of well-built tablets such as the Apple iPad 2. What's even more impressive is that Huawei managed to keep the MediaPad at a feather lightweight of 390g, which is less than the 410g of the Acer Iconia Tab A100 closed in a plastic shell. The rounded corners of the MediaPad also provide better handling, and the lightweight form factor also helps in one-handed operation of the slate. 

We liked the aluminum unibody frame of the Huawei MediaPad, along with its plus point of it being invulnerable to fingerprints and smudges. 

Huawei keeps the front of the MediaPad clean. A 1.3MP camera sits at the top left corner of the display (in landscape mode). Also, did you notice the nice rounded edges of the MediaPad? They provide a better grip when holding the device.

You will find the 3.5mm audio output jack and a pair of stereo speakers on the left side of the Huawei MediaPad. Be mindful of the location of the speakers as holding the device on your left hand may cover them if you are blasting music or watching movies without earphones.

Located at the top left corner of the Huawei MediaPad are the power button and volume controls. They are sufficiently raised for easy access and have a nice feel when pressed.

On the right side of the Huawei MediaPad are the charging, HDMI and micro-USB ports. It is a pity that the micro-USB port can only be used for data transfer. This means you need to carry the charger along wherever you go instead of a lightweight micro-USB cable, which would have done the job in an ideal implementation.

To access the SIM and microSD card slots, you have to remove the back cover. Besides feeling fragile, we had a hard time removing the cover; it's recommended to have strong fingernails to dig into the highlighted area and pry out the back cover.

Huawei could have placed these slots at the side of the MediaPad for easier access.

 

Features

There is hardly anything else in the world that is moving at a faster pace than the tablet scene. While it was announced in June 2011, the Huawei MediaPad was indeed the first tablet to come with Android 3.2. Fast forward to the present, Huawei is late in making the MediaPad commercially available, hence losing its attractiveness as a compelling purchase. Nevertheless, Android 3.2 is still the latest Honeycomb version available on tablets if you discount the impending arrival of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich by the end of the year on the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer Prime. 

It is unfortunate that it took more than three months for the Huawei MediaPad to be available. As a result, it lost the advantage of being the first tablet to come with Android 3.2.

We have covered Android 3.2 in detail over the course of several reviews, notably on the ASUS Eee Pad Transformer. As such, you can find out more about Android 3.2 over here. For those who need a quick refresher on the new features of Android 3.2, they are: 

  • Bug fixes 
  • Performance boosts 
  • Compatibility zoom mode 
  • User interface improvements 
  • Connectivity to various USB accessories

Of the various new features introduced in Android 3.2, the compatibility zoom mode is more relevant for the Huawei MediaPad. It lets users choose between Stretch and Zoom options when accessing apps that are developed specifically for use on mobile phones. Compatibility zoom improves the usability of such apps on the bigger screens of tablets. 

Unlike Lenovo which preloaded more than 30 apps (free and paid) on its tablets, the Huawei MediaPad Tablet only comes with three game apps (Angry Birds, Asphalt 6 and Lets Golf 2). We found this to be hardly of any use to consumers.

7.0
Overall rating 7/10
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Design
8
Features
7.5
User-Friendliness
7.5
Performance
6.5
Value
7
The Good
Solid design
High resolution display
Decent battery mileage
The Bad
Frequent app crashes and system lags
No differentiating feature from other Android tablets