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Monday, June 23 2014 15:46

Tech Review: Hands-on with the ASUS MeMO Pad 8 (ME181C) Android Tablet

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It finally happened. Despite the fact that I'm fully-connected at all times, I'd been a holdout when it came to getting a tablet. Thanks to ASUS, I now have one - the new MeMO Pad 8 ME181C, which arrived at Rock Father HQ earlier this month, and hit retail this week. The Android-based MeMO Pad 8 is is considered a "value tablet" due to it's attractive $199 price point, but the feature-packed unit should not go overlooked for it's lean size and beefy power. So how does the MeMO Pad 8 hold up under normal use here at HQ - as a device being used by kids and grownups? Find out below...

A Tablet for Kids? Yes:

MeMO Pad 8My two major reasons for holding off on purchasing a tablet were directly related to my girls. It's made me a little bit unpopular in some circles, but here they are...

  • I see too many parents using "screens" (tablets and smartphones) as a babysitter or reward, and the kids are absolutely addicted. I'm big on imaginative play, but it's taken me nearly five full years as a parent to say that like most things, screentime is ok "in moderation." I'd even been offered tablets over the years, and had passed.
  • I've never been keen on handing a $400-$500 item to a toddler, despite whatever special case was available for it.

The reality that finally caught up with me is that tablets aren't the future - they're the now, and kids are learning on them constantly. With Addie getting ready for Kindergarten in the Fall, the first thing I did was install some apps from my friends at PBS KIDS (who I work with often), along with ABCmouse and the like. We've begun using our MeMO Pad 8 as a learning tool, though the abandonment of flash support on the Android 4.4 OS can be troublesome for certain family-based websites. While HTML5 is where everything is headed, a lot of sites for kids still run flash, and that pretty much makes them PC/Laptop only at this point as my Windows Phone doesn't support flash, either. Bottom line: This is a fine tablet for kids, but one we're still learning to use to it's full potential.

asus2A Tablet for the Family? Yes:

After charging our MeMO Pad 8 for a full eight hours, the first thing we did was fire up Skype. The girls spoke to my Mom for a few hours, and the battery life (up to 9 hours) was fantastic, blowing away the talk time on my phone or laptop (both usually konk out in an hour or so). The 5MP rear camera and 2MP front camera are respectable, though I'll admit being a little soft on the camera since I've had some pretty high-powered units at my disposal. My current smartphone has a 9MB, and I've had up to 40MP, so my point of reference is skewed. I do enjoy some of the additional "toys" in the camera app like the "Time Rewind" function, which takes 31 quick photos in a burst and allows you to pick the best one... great for capturing moving kids.

Of course, there's also the plethora of games and apps available from Google Play or the Amazon Appstore.

A Tablet for Grownups? Indeed (at least for THE ROCK FATHER):

The Intel Bay Trail quad-core processor keeps things moving at a quick and smooth pace, with the on-board storage of 16GB (reduced due to the operating system) is expandable to 64GB via microSD (one slot available). ASUS gives you 500GB of cloud storage (which I have not yet tried), and the 1200X800 8-inch HD display looks fantastic, especially when set to "vivid." It's easy on the eyes in most any lighting condition, too, and that's appreciated.

Honestly, the first thing I did solo on the MeMO Pad 8 was to launch Netflix (disclosure: I'm on their #StreamTeam) and check out the recent METALLICA movie, THROUGH THE NEVER. I hadn't seen it yet, and it looked beautiful on here - streaming perfectly via the HQ Wi-Fi. It also sounded great, and with all I do with music - that's important.

So what was the best way to test the HD YouTube streaming? By watching a video that I directed for PRODUCT OF HATE...

And, with all the social networking that I'm always doing, I added Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr to my home screen. I really enjoy the Instagram experience on the MeMO Pad 8, and the SuperNote app is pretty cool for getting ideas and important details captured right away - through text or drawing. I dig that.

The Bottom Line:

Rock Father ApprovedFor my first tablet and first Android device (an OS still unfamiliar to me), I'm impressed at the style, function and bang for the buck. If you've been hesitant to jump into the tablet waters as I had been, then the ASUS MeMO Pad 8 is a great way to dive in for a feature-rich experience for a very modest price.

Rock Father-Approved!
Watch: ASUS' Official MeMO Pad 8 Spec Video:
Available now via my Associate, Amazon:
BONUS: What happens when I Google myself using the voice function?
James Zahn

James Zahn is best-known as The Rock Father™, a media personality, commentator, adventurer and raconteur. He is the Owner, Publisher, and Editor-in-Chief of THE ROCK FATHER™ Magazine. In January, 2019, after nearly a decade of publishing The Rock Father™ Magazine, he joined Adventure Media and Events as Senior Editor of The Toy Book—the leading trade publication for the toy industry since 1984, as well as The Pop Insider — a destination for all things pop culture, and The Toy Insider — the leading consumer guide for toys and games. He is also editor of The Toy Report, a weekly newsletter published by The Toy Book each Thursday. Zahn has over 27 years of experience in the entertainment, retail and publishing industries.

He regularly serves as a Brand Ambassador and spokesperson for several Globally-recognized pop culture and lifestyle brands in addition to consulting for a number of toy manufacturers. 

Creatively, James has directed/edited music videos, lyric videos, and album trailers for bands such as FEAR FACTORY, has appeared as an actor in feature films and commercials, written comic books, and performed in bands. He currently serves as an artist manager and video director for PRODUCT OF HATE, whose debut album was released by Napalm Records in 2016, distributed by ADA/Warner Music in the U.S. with Universal Music handling global. A new album has been completed and is set for release this year.

Zahn and/or his work have been featured in/on CNN, NBC, ABC, WGN, CBS, GCTN, G4, The Chicago Tribune, Forbes, MarketWatch, Reuters, BusinessWire, Fangoria, Starlog and more. He's appeared as a music expert on CNN's AC360 alongside Anderson Cooper, and has been interviewed by Larry King. In the past he served as a writer for the Netflix Stream Team,  Fandango Family and PBS KIDS, penned articles for Sprout and PopSugar, and was a contributor to Chicago Parent.

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