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Thinner Lighter Better

Asus Memo Pad 7 ME176CX / ME176C review – best 7 inch tablet for under $150

By Andrei Girbea - @ andreigirbea , updated on October 20, 2014
Tested: Asus Memo Pad ME176CX
Rating: 3.5/5     Price Range: $149
Summary: If you only have $150 for your next tablet, the Asus Memo Pad ME176CX is the best A-brand device you can get right now for that kind of money. It's a nice looking slate with a good screen, decent battery life and fast hardware, but it's not without flaws, as you'll find out from this review.

The good

looks and feel nice, available in many lively colors, good IPS screen, capable hardware platform, runs Android 4.4 KitKat out of the box, decent battery life, excellent price

The bad

very slow Wi-Fi, daily performance does not rise up to the powerful hardware right now, the back gets hot under load, mediocre cameras, , the speaker is not very loud

The Asus Memo Pad ME176CX is the proof you can actually get a good A-brand tablet for as little as $150 these days.

Of course, this is not the first such slate to target this price-range. We’ve seen entries from Acer, Asus, Lenovo and all sorts of tier-B OEMs before, however, none actually offered as much for the money as this 2014 version of the 7 inch Memo Pad does.

But not everything is peachy with the ME176 either, it still has it flaws and at least one of them could be a deal breaker. Check out the review below for more details.

Before we start though, I do have to tell you that I got to test two different ME176s in the last few weeks. One was the ME176CX in blue, and one with the ME176C is yellow. The only difference between the two, from what I can tell right now, is that the ME176C comes with better cameras, but all the other features remain the same. Both were press samples offered for this review by my contacts at Asus and have gone back after the test was completed.

The Asus Memo Pad ME176C is the go-to tablet in the under $150 segmenet right now

The Asus Memo Pad ME176C is the go-to tablet in the under $150 segmenet right now


Asus Memo Pad ME176CX / ME176C spec sheet
Screen 7 inch, 1280 x 800 px, IPS
Hardware Intel Atom BayTrail Z3745 1.86 GHz, quad-core
Memory 1 GB RAM
Storage 16 GB (11.13 available)
Connectivity
Wireless N, Bluetooth, GPS
Sensors accelerometer, compass, gyroscope
Ports micro-USB, microSD card reader (up to 64 GB card), headphone jack
Cameras 2 MPx back camera, 0.3 MPx front camera
Battery 15 Wh
OS Android 4.4.2 KitKat with ZenUI
Size 189.3 x 113.7 x 9.6 mm (7.45 x 4.48 x 0.38 inches)
Weight 295 g (0.65 pounds)
Others available in a bunch of colors; Asus offers several matching covers for it
Price $149 (potential discounts available here)

The Video Review

The clip below will give you the quick version of this review. If you’re interesting in buying this 7 inch slate though, I’d suggest you go through the written post as well.

Design, exterior and first look

It’s important to point that the new MemoPad is very slender and has lost weight when compared to last year’s Memo Pad 7 HD (tips the scales at under 300 grams), but also a few millimeters around its waist as well.

The entire thing is still made of plastic, but a matte one. The case is available in a couple of different colors and the truth is the ME176CX looks really nice, fits well in hand and is fairly sturdy. Of course, it will still break if you drop it and the screen might still scratch in time, that’s why you should have a look at the cases Asus offers for this one.

My favorite is the transparent plastic shell with a flap that goes on top of the screen, called the MagSmart cover, which perfectly fits the slate and also matches it in terms of color. As you can see, I have the blue version here, which looks great on the blue MemoPad. There’s also a fancier option, called the Carry Me Cover, with a leather band and a magnetically sealed upper part, which can be used as an adjustable stand if you want to. You can check out both of them in the video review.

Anyway, let’s get back to the actual device. Two things bother me on this Memo Pad. One is the micro-USB port that still sits on top of the tablet, which means that you’ll have to use the device upside down when charging it, the other is the fact that the Power button is placed under the volume rocker, and not the other way around as with most tablets out there, and I ended up pressing it by mistake quite a couple of times when in fact looking to tune-down the volume.

But these aside, there’s really little to complain about here. Asus put a microSD card reader on this 7 incher and a mono-speaker is hidden on the back, behind that wide grill. It pushes natural and decent quality sound, but is not loud enough if you plan on using the device in noisier environments.

There’s also a main-camera on the back, a 2 MPx one on this version and the pics and videos coming out of it are mediocre at best, but that shouldn’t bother you much. After all, tablets are not known for their camera performance anyway, especially not these affordable ones. The front-facing shooter is even worse, with a VGA sensor, but keep in mind that Asus also has a slightly different version of this tablet, with a 5 MPx rear-shooter and a 1.2 Mpx front-camera, which should do better. The Transformer Pad TF303K has this exact same combo, in case you want to see how the pics would look on that one.

Screen

Back to what really matters, the MemoPad ME176C gets a 1280 x 800 px IPS screen, which is very nice for a 150 bucks device.

The panel is a bit dim (under 300 nits at full brightness) and there’s no auto-brightness (hence, no light-sensor), but the wide viewing angles, decent contrast and fairly accurate colors (around 80% sRGB) do compensate for that. So overall I’m pleased here, although I’ve seen better screens on 7 inchers before.

Some of you might complain about the pixel density but I for one won’t. The 1280 x 800 px resolution is sharp enough for a 7 incher, so you’ll hardly ever see the pixels and that’s just enough for me, especially since we are talking about a cheap device.

The ME176 packs an excellent screen for this price range

The ME176 packs an excellent screen for this price range

Hardware and daily use experience

But how does this MemoPad handle everyday activities? Well, it is motorized by an Intel Atom BayTrail hardware platform, paired with 1 GB of RAM and 16 GB of storage, with about 11 of those available for your own content, and this configuration gets really high scores in most synthetic benchmarks (761/ 2211 points in GeekBench 3 and around 17000 points in Quadrant), which translate in an fairly enjoyable daily use experience. But not everything works flawlessly though.

The Taiwanese manufacturer put a skinned version of Android 4.4.2 on this device and while they haven’t changed the core functionality of KitKat, they did highly customize the interfaces and graphic elements, but also preloaded a fair selection of their own apps on this MemoPad. And these probably have an impact on the slate’s overall performance.

There;s powerful hardware inside this one, but that does not entirely translate in the daily use experience

There’s powerful hardware inside this one, but that does not entirely translate in the daily use experience

Just to have an idea of what I’m talking about here, the screen comes to life about 2 seconds after pushing the power button, multitasking is not without occasional hiccups and the browsing and streaming experience are cumbersome. However, that’s mostly due to this MemoPad’s poor Wi-Fi performance, which only averaged 6 to 10 Mbps download speeds on any of the Wi-Fi networks I tested. That causes sites to take a long time to load, apps to take ages to get downloaded and Youtube videos to continuously buffer.

Update: Wi-Fi is problematic with final release models as well. Here’s something that might help, from one of our readers: “Final update about the WiFi issue. The problem is the system update. There is some sort of bug in the newest system update. I exchanged my original tablet after experiencing poor WiFi speed (~10mbps). The new tablet worked great (~30mbps) until I performed the system update. After the update the WiFi speed dropped back down to ~10mbps again. Performing a factory reset did nothing to fix the problem. Once the system update is performed your WiFi speeds will be bad. I exchanged the tablet a second time but did not perform the system update and the WiFi speeds are normal again. I would suggest to everyone experiencing this problem to exchange their tablet at the store where they bought it if possible or to exchange it with Asus if still under warranty and NOT to perform the system update when they receive their new tablet. I will be contacting Asus tomorrow to notify them of the bug. I don’t believe they are aware of it because I spoke to three different tech support reps from their company yesterday and none of them had any idea why the tablet had such poor WiFi performance. I hope this helps anyone who is experiencing this issue.” (Thanks Harlan!)

Keep in mind that this might be an isolated problem with the blue version of the Memo Pad tested here. The yellow version went back to Asus earlier due to a hardware problem and I haven’t conducted proper Wi-Fi speed tests on that one, but based on the daily experience, it was not as slow as the blue unit that I actually reviewed more thoroughly. I’ll try to get my hands on an extra unit to make sure if that’s a general problem or not. I also checked out some of the other reviews available online for this Memo Pad, and most of them did not mention anything about this issue, but at least one did.

So until we get more answers about this, if you’ve bought a MemoPad ME176C, try to download a big game from the store and monitor the speed. Or fire the SpeedTest app and see if the numbers are right and then leave a comment below with your findings, that’s going to help us all a lot.

The slow Wi-Fi might actually be a major problem here

The slow Wi-Fi might actually be a major problem here

Anyway, despite all these problems, the MemoPad ME176C is capable of tackling all sorts of activities, including dealing with multimedia content and games.

Most common video file-types are supported by the included video app and even high-bitrate 1080p .MKVs are working smoothly. I’ve also tried a few games, like Asphalt 8, Subway Surfers and GTA Vice City and they are ran fine as well. Just keep in mind that this thing does get very-warm on the back when running games for a while, around the camera’s lens. And it’s unpleasantly warm, especially now during the summer, as it can make your hands sweaty. But I noticed that sticking a case on it solves this.

Battery Life

That aside, this 2014 MemoPad 7 offers decent battery life as well. The 15 Wh battery is fairly sized for a device this small and allows the tablet to go for about 6 to 7 hours of daily use and between 8 to 9 hours of looping a 720p video on a charge, with the screen’s brightness at about 50% and Wi-Fi ON, which is adequate for indoor use.

Pricing and conclusions

All these being said, we can conclude that the Asus MemoPad ME176CX is overall a good tablet and it sells for under $150 these days (see this link for up-to-date prices and potential discounts). The slow Wi-Fi could be a major problem as it seriously hindered my daily experience with this test unit (for anythign that required fast Internet – browsing, downloading content, streaming web video), but hopefully that was an isolated problem. And if it wasn’t, then Asus needs to fix it asap and replace the faulty units.

On top of that, the ME176 is either cheaper and/or more powerful and better equipped than any of its A-brand competitors. And I’m looking here at the Acer Iconia One, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 7.0, the Kindle Fire HD and HDX or the Lenovo IdeaPad A1. It’s also a nice improvement from last year’s ME172 Memo Pad, with a sleeker body, reduced weight, better screen and snappier overall performance.

There's nothing overall better than the ME176CX for now, in the under $150, but there are better 7 inch slates out there, if you're willing to spend more

There’s nothing overall better than the ME176CX for now, in the under $150, but there are better 7 inch slates out there, if you’re willing to spend more

On the other hand, this is not the best 7 inch slate of the moment and if you can spend just north of $200 for your next device, then you’d better look at the Nexus 7 2013, which offers a better screen and faster overall performance, plus the stock Android experience and the fast Android updates.

But for $150 bucks, the MemoPad ME176C is hard to beat and that’s why right now it is the go-to slate in this price range.

Andrei Girbea, aka "Mike", Editor-in-Chief at TLBHD.com. I absolutely hate carrying around heavy stuff, that's why I'm fond of mini-laptops and portable computers. I'm primarily using such devices and have been testing them for many years now. Get in touch in the comments section below.

25 Comments

  1. Paul

    August 13, 2014 at 12:29 am

    I think that thr way you tested the wifi speed was questionable or the device you had wasn’t representative. I’m using my Asus me176cx right now and the link speed is 65 megabits per second to my out of the box configured comcast wifi router. That’s comparable to the hardwired 100baseT connection I had at my office pc.

    Vtr
    Network Systems Engineer (retired)

    • Andrei Girbea

      August 13, 2014 at 5:19 pm

      I did state that my review unit might have been flawed. However, I’ve tested it just like I test all the other devices that work fine. Thanks for the feedback, I’m glad to hear that could have been only an isolated problem

  2. Peter

    August 25, 2014 at 6:47 pm

    I am having similar issue you are experiencing. I have 50-60mpbs connection on every device except my asus memo pad 8 (me181C). It is only able to get 8-10mbps. Any other findings on this?

  3. João

    August 27, 2014 at 6:13 pm

    Hi guys. Need some help to this:
    My Asus Memo Pad 7 ME176 makes a noise (a bad noise whistle) when touch screen or when open apps. This happens after some hours of use. At first, I thought it should be caused by some kind of virus, but i bought and installed norton mobile and apparently there is no virus or malware problem. Could someone help to understand this problem?
    Thank you very much
    João

    • Germán

      October 19, 2014 at 5:16 am

      I have the same issue when I try to load the app to edit some movie, just start a bad noise and only can stop it restarting the tablet… very frustrating…

    • miou

      December 27, 2014 at 5:54 pm

      I have the same issue, me176cx whistles from time to time.

  4. Mr Johnson

    September 3, 2014 at 8:46 pm

    I have the me176cx and I find it a pain it will not install some apps like Minecraft if a micro SD card is mounted.

    I have the white one, but returned a black one due to memory card problem above.

    The black one felt better and the screen had no back light bleed like the white one has down most of the top of the screen.

    Its fast the black one I had over 19,000 on quadrant, white doing 17,000+.

    The Cameras are a joke but not to much of a problem.

    I find the ui nice and I own the HTC one m8 and I like the Asus ui more.

    The viewing angles on the screen are not to great but for £99.99 its OK.

    Pain with power at the top and I get the power button when trying to do volume.

    Very fast but let down with no SD move support and the SD bug when installing.

  5. Asa

    September 5, 2014 at 3:46 pm

    I’m surprised you haven’t included the 1GB RAM in the “The Bad” section as it’s arguably the major flaw with this tablet. Multitasking and gaming on Android in this day and age simply requires more memory and it might be the source of some of the performqnce issues you experienced. This, with the 2012 resolution, means no sale for me.

    Also to note is the lack of active development community for the decice, whichnmeans you’re stuck with the bloatware and no root or custom ROMs.

    • Andrei Girbea

      September 6, 2014 at 12:14 pm

      Well, this is only 150 bucks, I don’t find it realistic to expect more RAM at this price point.

      You can spend more and get a higher res screen and more RAM, this thing is intended for light use and is built with price in mind and I believe it does offer a lot for the money. Would you say otherwise?

  6. Paul

    September 8, 2014 at 7:38 am

    I found an irritating choice in Asus Android implementation -you can only create 2 user profiles. This prevents setting up additional profiles that might be wanted for multiple children or work/play.

    I don’know if it’s Asus or Android, but the “internal” 16 GB memory is seen as an sd card, while the external SD card is recognised by some utility apps as a usb drive or not seen at all.

    A1SD Bench is the only app I’ve found that can test the external card, and its showing abysmal performance for the class 10 card I installed, while the internal sd and ram check out as expected.

    • Clarissa

      January 8, 2016 at 3:01 am

      My asus gets really hot on the back an front how to fix it help

  7. nick the Greek

    September 22, 2014 at 4:04 pm

    I have this tablet which I,m using to write this. Yes the camera’s s are naff, but the tablet is good for the price and it’s not pink at least. Thanks asus for a decent tablet

  8. Harlan

    October 18, 2014 at 9:58 am

    I have the blue one and I have noticed the slow internet speed. My pc gets 100mbps downloads and my HTC one m8 gets 50-60mbps, but my blue me176cx only manages 10-15mbps.

    I bought this tablet new for $130 for my young son so many of the knocks against it, such as the poor camera and the mediocre speakers, are irrelevant to me, but the slow WiFi speed is really bothersome. Also, I haven’t thoroughly tested it, but I don’t think the battery would last 6-7 hours of continuous use at 50% brightness. It seems to drain faster than that.

    Overall I’m satisfied with this tablet. For the price that I paid I can’t really expect it to be too much better, but there is definitely a major problem with the Wi-Fi speed.

    • Andrei Girbea

      October 18, 2014 at 11:52 am

      Depends how you’re using it. IF you’re running games or have multiple tabs open at the same time , it won’t last 6 hours. With more casual use, it did last that much in my tests. Too bad you got the defective wifi as well. Looks like only some models are affected (or maybe not everyone test this). You could try to exchange it if you’re still within the return period and it’s not a big hassle or won’t cost you much, maybe you’ll be luckier with the replacement.

      • Harlan

        October 19, 2014 at 4:56 am

        Hey, just wanted to give you an update in case it helps you or anyone else reading this. I exchanged my tablet for another one of the same color and the WiFi isn’t an issue with the new tablet. I get 30mbps download speeds now. Still nothing amazing, but 2-3 times faster than it was so a definite, noticeable improvement. If anyone else is experiencing this issue, try and exchange your tablet for a new one.

  9. Harlan

    October 20, 2014 at 6:38 am

    Final update about the WiFi issue. The problem is the system update. There is some sort of bug in the newest system update. I exchanged my original tablet after experiencing poor WiFi speed (~10mbps). The new tablet worked great (~30mbps) until I performed the system update. After the update the WiFi speed dropped back down to ~10mbps again. Performing a factory reset did nothing to fix the problem. Once the system update is performed your WiFi speeds will be bad. I exchanged the tablet a second time but did not perform the system update and the WiFi speeds are normal again. I would suggest to everyone experiencing this problem to exchange their tablet at the store where they bought it if possible or to exchange it with Asus if still under warranty and NOT to perform the system update when they receive their new tablet. I will be contacting Asus tomorrow to notify them of the bug. I don’t believe they are aware of it because I spoke to three different tech support reps from their company yesterday and none of them had any idea why the tablet had such poor WiFi performance. I hope this helps anyone who is experiencing this issue.

    • Andrei Girbea

      October 20, 2014 at 1:29 pm

      Thanks, I’ll add this to the post for other readers.

  10. tana

    November 21, 2014 at 4:55 pm

    I have had WiFi issues as well but after last night’s updates (3 of them in total) the issue is fixed! I am experiencing some major GPS issues. The GPS drops off constantly and has a hard time getting a signal back. It cannot be used as a GPS device with confidence which is a big reason why I bought it. I will be exchanging it to see if it was just this device. I’d advised everyone to turn on a hotspot tether it to your phone, fire up google maps and drive around and see if it will show your movements through your trip. Some other people reported issues with the GPS on Amazon and have desperately been searching for a remedy or fix. I have also tested the GPS with a different app (Navigon) with identical results.

    • Tana

      November 24, 2014 at 11:28 pm

      Hey guys, picked up another Asus memo pad 7 me176 to see if my current one has a busted/defective gps chip. I also noticed that when it is on my dash and on google maps, the button that detects which way you are facing goes all haywire, which probably means there is something seriously wrong with it.

      Anyways bought the new one and set it up and did not do the update but it got a gps signal and held on to it perfectly. No issues, it did not skip a beat. It was on point every single turn. The other one that was defective had some serious issues with losing and completely being lost.

      Soooooo… I tried to update the system today but the update server is down apparently as all of my android tablets (even my 8 inch memo pad) cannot access the server for updates.

      So the original one I bought was fully updated but the new one is not. Not sure if the update will affect the GPS but hopefully it doesn’t, if it does I will report it when the server goes back up.

      But I am so glad the GPS works on the new one which hopefully means the problem I had was isolated and likely just a defective gps chip.

  11. Emeric Lille

    November 21, 2014 at 11:36 pm

    Hello, I just received this tablet today. The 1st thing I did was (I guess like everybody here) to download the firmware update. I was schoked by the yime it took to download 138 MB… almost 5 mins. I was checking the wifi while downloading and indeed i was at less than 30 mb/s. There was regular disconnecting of the signal while i was at 3 metres from the router.
    While the new firmware was updating i went to the router config screen and alocated a fixed IP adress to the tablet in the DHCP list. After reboot i forced a refreshed of the wifi signal and finally got 65 mb/s. But still impossible to read a youtube video in 720p, i try different stuff playing with energy saving but still same results. Then i came back in my router config and increased the “Beacon Interval” from 50 to 200 (100 being normally used by default). Magic the same video was playing flawless. Interesting thing is that i can still see the wifi icon disconecting sometimes but at least the video is playing. I hope it can help some of you! (and i hope i will not find collateral dammages on my other connected devices with this setting now)

    • Andrei Girbea

      November 23, 2014 at 7:27 pm

      THanks, this should help other buyer. But I finding so complicated for something that should work fine out of the box, with any Wi-Fi, without requiring extra tweaks 🙁

  12. Marlon Mariano

    November 24, 2014 at 8:03 pm

    My experience with this device is when i use the Smart Cover and when you fold the cover at the back of the tablet the screen turns off even if turn through power button the screen open and suddenly turns off.I know that the Smart cover is design for face of the tablet and not for the back.What i did to put some cardboard or paper at the back of the tablet to let the cover not touch the back of the tablet that makes the screen turn off.I hope in the updates they included the function or to disable the back magnetic sensor.I also complain the low ram that makes some apps crashes like Real Racing 3,GT Racing,NBA gametime,Firefox and default browser.Other than that the tablet is great on its price.

  13. Doug

    March 3, 2015 at 2:11 am

    I have owned this device for a year now. VERY disappointed. Firmware updates are slow. And they mess up the installed apps, when then stop working right. Support at ASUS don’t know how to fix things. And now the USB and ADC drivers have stopped working. The Support pages point you to driver downloads that *also* do not work. ASUS is really blowing it. I have owned ASUS devices of various sorts for more than a decade… but this is really making me think twiceabout future purchases. Skipping thier tablets from now on at the very least.

  14. Lorenz

    April 5, 2015 at 12:31 am

    My Me176c has this problem since I bought it, when I play HD games even if it’s not too long 20 minutes maximum, the back heats up too much and when I’m done play and let the device rest and the it cooled down, the screen won’t open anymore. It just show some very dim light but it responds to touch (it even has it sounds). The device screen only appears only over many frustrating on and off and you need to hold the back with some pressure so the screen doesn’t turn off. I bought these just three weeks now, planning to return it.

  15. John

    June 6, 2015 at 12:50 pm

    I can’t not play real racing 3 on this tab Asus memo pad 7 me176cx or KO13 even with all the games updates and Asus updates this game just keeps crashing it plays for a bit then just stops and takes me back to the home screen please help. Ps I am in the USA

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