Huawei Technologies is a Chinese multinational and brand-name recognised pretty much universally. Mostly specialising in mobile technology, telecommunication networks and general communication devices, they have also dabbled in computing, smartphones and tablet PCs.
Which brings us to the Huawei MediaPad, a 7-inch Android-powered, aluminium-bodied tablet PC that we’ve been poking at.
Design and build quality
With a weight of 390g, the MediaPad is lighter than most tablets, including the iPad 3 (652g) and, notably for eBook lovers, a barely perceptible 23g lighter than Amazon’s Kindle Fire (413g).
The MediaPad has a very sturdy and professional feel to it thanks to its elegant aluminium body. It looks good, it’s comfortable to hold and manages a tidy slimness of 10.5mm.
Only three physical buttons are present on the right side of the device to power/wake it and to adjust volume. There is a standard 3.5mm headphone jack at the top with two stereo speakers. A microUSB and a microHDMI TV-out port join the power input at the bottom.
The device has a 5-megapixel autofocus camera that takes photos at resolutions of 2592×1944 pixels – unfortunately without an LED flash – and a conventional front-facing camera at a modest 1.3-megapixels.
While making use of a built-in non-removable lithium-ion polymer battery allows a lot of flexibility with design specifications, this is likely to pose problems down the line should a battery replacement be necessary.
The Huawei MediaPad means business and comes packed with a 1.2GHz dual-core Scorpion processor, 1GB of RAM and an Adreno 220 graphical processing unit.
While its internal storage is advertised as 8GB, only 5.8GB of it is accessible. Fortunately a crisis any media-lover can avert with the aid of a microSD card effortlessly slotted in behind the back cover.
Bluetooth v2.1 and WiFi 802.11 b/g/n dual-band support is a given and the MediaPad can be utilised as a wireless hotspot in the blink of an eye.
The easily forgotten bits of this device that enable it function as a phone include support for quad-band GPRS/EDGE and dual/tri-band 3G with HSPA connectivity.
A GPS with Assisted-GPS support, a digital compass, accelerometer, proximity sensor and three-axis gyroscope sensor are also packed into the device and are highly responsive.
After five runs through AnTuTu Benchmark v2.7.3, it pulled off an average score of 5165.2, making it quite an impressive performer.
Screen and responsiveness
The “perfect” display size is subjective and depends on the needs of the individual.
For many, a 7-inch display is the sweet-spot between “where do I put it” big and “I wish I had more real-estate” small, and the MediaPad delivers.
With a WXGA display resolution of 1280×800 and a 256K-colour IPS TFT capacitive touch-screen, this baby was definitely made for 1080p video playback.
Our tests revealed that the MediaPad is capable of supporting up to 5 simultaneous touch-points. I’ve had no problems typing on the device and its responsiveness is top class.
The only criticism would be that the display doesn’t make use of Gorilla Glass and is likely to be very prone to scratches if not properly cared for.
Sound and call quality
Even at maximum volume the MediaPad’s external speakers, while blatantly audible, don’t sound particularly overwhelming. If you’re surrounded by the usual raucous in a public place, it would be far less frustrating to simply make use of the headset.
Call quality is much what you would expect and is completely satisfactory.
The main camera is a 5-megapixel auto-focus that takes photos at a resolutions of 2592×1944 pixels. However, it’s difficult not to be surprised at the lack of an LED flash.
Photos are beautiful in bright light but become grainy and unpleasant otherwise. The camera is quick to respond but mostly unremarkable.
Quite excellent. The battery lasted 6-hours and 20-minutes while cycling an HD video at 720p and managed to idle between standby and some very light use for about three days.
The Huawei MediaPad comes bundled with Gameloft’s Asphalt – a sort of Need For Speed clone – and the famous original Angry Birds. Yozo Office – an Office document editor – came pre-installed as well.
Apart from those, it’s all pretty standard Android software: Maps, YouTube, Google+, Navigation, etc.
The stock device is released with Android Honeycomb 3.2. It’s a shame that it didn’t release with ICS out of the box but it will be updated in the near future.
There’s very little not to like about this device. With a recommended retail price of around R4,300 it’s a pretty good deal for a top-rate and incredibly capable Android tablet.
Why Huawei decided that a non-replaceable battery or excluding an LED flash would be a good idea is going to have to remain a mystery, but apart from those minor niggles, the capability of Huawei’s MediaPad is indisputable and its performance speaks for itself.