Amongst the barrage of products that end up in our offices, I tend to have a somewhat fondness for tablets. There’s just something eerily mesmerizing about them, and there’s an immense satisfaction from seeing how long you can last before installing Angry Birds or Jetpack Joyride. But jokes aside, I’ve played with some great tablets and some truly awful ones as well. Today I’m looking at the Huawei MediaPad 10 FHD, a sleek 10-inch tablet with a full HD screen. Reach on to see how it stacks up against some of the big boys in the market.
Build quality & design
Probably the first thing that strikes you about the MediaPad 10 FHD is its rather sleek and stylish design. While most other manufacturers seem to love encasing their tablets in glossy, fingerprint-attracting glossy black plastic, the MediaPad 10 FHD is instead crafted with a smooth aluminum plating with a thin white strip at the top that highlights the rear camera. The tablet is certainly on the skinny side, measuring just 8.8mm and 257x176 mm. The MediaPad 10 FHD like most other tablets, has a minimum number of ports and buttons. There’s a power and volume rocker, headphone jack, a docking/charging port at the bottom, and a plastic cover that hides the SIM and microSD slots at the top.
The front is as ordinary as a tablet can look, with a standard black bezel framing the screen, discreetly hiding the front-facing camera at the top. It’s a lesson in minimalism, but one that we’ve seen before on devices such as the iPad and the Samsung Galaxy Tab. Still, the MediaPad 10 FHD looks very nice, and feels much more premium than other tablets I’ve recently used.
Despite its rather elegant looks, the MediaPad 10 FHD packs some serious punch under the hood. A quad-core 1.4GHz Cortex-A9 powers this beast, which is more than adequate for running some of the more demanding apps you can find in the Google Play store.
The quad-core processor is also speedy enough to navigate through the tablet, though it does slow down in a few areas, as seen in our tests.
Benchmarks and Performance
The MediaPad 10 FHD did fairly well in our tests, and for most of the applications you would want to run on the MediaPad 10 FHD, the performance of this tablet is adequate. Firing up the bundled ‘Puss in Boots: Fruit Ninja’ game was a complete disappointment however, as the game lagged terribly in most of the levels. I’m writing this off as due to the tablet’s old OS, so hopefully when Jelly Bean hits it’s going to make the tablet run a lot smoother.
Where the MediaPad 10 FHD does do well is with playing back media on its gorgeous screen. Watching videos via the DLNA app or YouTube is a great experience, and viewing photos was also likewise a real treat.
UI and Apps
The MediaPad 10 FHD runs Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream sandwich, which is a bit odd considering Jelly Bean was released a while back by Google. Huawei have decided to make a few tweaks to the UI, some which are good while some are downright confusing.
The traditional lock screen remains, however this time around you can customize the icons in your unlock wheel. So you could quickly turn on the tablet and slide up to access your email, or slide left to fire off a tweet. It’s a subtle tweak to the UI, but it’s a rather clever one that I think users will appreciate for quick access to popular apps.
You’re also able to hide the status bar at the bottom, which gives you just a few extra pixels of screen real estate. It’s not a huge deal, but there are some apps which seem to purposely hide behind the status bar, so you end up swiping the bottom edge to hide the status bar anyway.
Bizarrely enough, Huawei have done away with the traditional App drawer that comes in Android. The grid which is usually accessed on the top right is now replaced with a “+” icon, that lets you add widgets to your various screens. Any apps that you download will automatically be added to the second screen, so if you’re an app hoarder prepare for this to fill up rather quickly. It’s a somewhat annoying tweak if you ask me, as I’m more used to just having my regular apps on screen and everything else filed neatly away in the App drawer.
The MediaPad 10 FHD comes with the regular Android stock apps, as well as a few of its own. There’s a File Manager to access files and documents on the internal storage or on an SD card, Foxit PDF reader, the terrible Puss-in-Boots version of Fruit Ninja, a copy of Kingsoft Office for editing office documents on the go, and the game Riptide GP to showcase the tablet’s capabilities.
Screen and Camera
As mentioned before, the screen on the MediaPad 10 FHD is really what will wow you. It’s bright enough to watch HD clips on and is great even when used outdoors. Colors and images are crisp and render beautifully, so prepare to spend a large portion of your time gazing lovingly at the screen.
The camera on the other hand is another story. I’m still not in favor of anyone trying to take decent photos with a tablet camera, and the MediaPad 10 FHD is no exception. Despite being equipped with a 8 megapixel camera, the photos it took were just about average, with certain colors appearing a bit more bland when viewed back on the tablet. You can of course apple filters and other tricks to your photos, but apart from that there’s precious little to do.
Audio from the MediaPad 10 FHD is expected to be good, given that this table is primarily marketed as a media consumption device. And to this effect, the MediaPad 10 FHD does in fact deliver. Despite the speakers being placed at the back pointing sound away from you, audio is fairly loud and expresses an almost complete variety of ranges, so everything from vocals to deep bass and sound effects from movies come through nicely.
The MediaPad 10 FHD also has a keyboard dock that is sold separately. Our review unit came with it, and it’s a somewhat nice addition to have to your tablet. I’ve previously seen dockable Android tablets only from Asus, so it’s nice that other companies are now catching up.
The keyboard effectively acts as a cover for the tablet, adding considerable weight and thickness to the device overall. When you close the docking station it automatically puts the display to sleep; opening it up again will wake it up again. The dock adds no extra ports or functionality, so it really is just a plain keyboard attachment for the tablet. At the top of the keyboard where the functions keys reside are shortcuts to various Android functions, such as disabling wi-fi or Bluetooth, launching the Web Browser, audio controls, and the option to quickly launch the camera app or lock the screen. Located on the top right is a small button which you can slide to easily undock the MediaPad 10 FHD.
Unfortunately, the keyboard dock tended to be a bit of a miss for me. Yes, it was certainly convenient for typing emails and web addresses, but other than that proved to be of little use to me. There’s no lip on the keyboard for opening up the tablet again, so you quite literally have to pry the thing apart with two hands. There is a small and trackpad at the bottom of the keyboard, but this doesn’t support scrolling, which still has to be done by touching the screen. The keys also sometimes don’t register, so you sometimes end up backtracking a few characters to retype a word or two. While the keyboard could be a handy attachment for some, it proved to be a hindrance for me.
Heat levels & Battery Life
Despite continuous use and plenty of media-watching, the MediaPad 10 FHD didn’t get very warm at all. The tablet was just about lukewarm during charging, but otherwise remained cool to the touch. Battery life with extensive use should run you around seven hours or so, with wi-fi on, medium brightness, and a good number of background apps running. If you just occasionally pick up the tablet to watch a video or two or send a few emails, you’ll be able to stretch the battery for at least a few days before needing a recharge.
So does the MediaPad 10 FHD really add much glamor to an already crowded Android tablet market? The answer is a yes only if you’re able to look past the now aging operating system version that bundles on this tablet. The screen is truly something else, offering a great viewing experience for anyone who wants to pick this tablet up. Once Jelly Bean hits this tablet, I’m sure the MediaPad 10 FHD will be one of those tablets that’s able to easily stand out from the crowd. Until then, it’s a decision that’s left solely to consumers.