The Huawei Media Pad 10 Link 4G, which goes on sale exclusively at Vodafone on 14 August, is a usable if not overly impressive Android tablet.
Our first impression of the Huawei MediaPad was that it looked a lot like a black iPad. It’s got the same 10.1in screen size with a black border and metal back. At 640grams, the tablet is only slightly lighter than the 662 gram Apple device (Wi-Fi and cellular version).
However, as soon as we turned the MediaPad on, it was evident that this was no retina screen. The device has a resolution of 1280x800 pixels, or 149 pixels per inch (ppi). By comparison, the iPad is 2048x1536, or 264 ppi. The new Google Nexus 7, which has a 4G version coming soon, has 323 pixels per inch across its 7 inch screen.
We also found the Huawei tablet’s screen to be a bit dim compared to other tablets on the market. It's also very reflective and prone to finger smudges.
The MediaPad appears to run on stock Android Jellybean 4.1, though Huawei has included some of its own apps. With Google recently introducing Jellybean 4.3, the Android version here is slightly outdated, but still miles better than older versions of Android.
As an Android device, the MediaPad gives you access to all the apps in the Google Play store. That should be fine if you’re mainly looking to use it for consumer purposes, but business users may prefer the greater range of apps on the iPad or a Windows 8 (not RT) tablet like the Microsoft Surface Pro that, while Wi-Fi only, can run Windows applications.
Also, the actual touch operation of the tablet felt somewhat sluggish compared to other devices on the market. Like the screen, this is not a deal breaker, but can give the impression of a last-generation tablet.
The tablet is fine for watching video or playing most games. HD video on YouTube ran smoothly and a brief test of the included Riptide GP, a 3D jet ski racer, seemed to have a solid frame rate.
The tablet has 16GB of internal storage, with a MicroSD slot to expand memory by up to 32GB. It also includes a decent-but-not-great 3MP camera on the back and a VGA camera on the front that can be used for videoconferencing.
With a tablet that’s just OK, the main reason to buy a Huawei MediaPad on Vodafone is that it’s a Cat 4 device. However, given that we did not find its speeds to be significantly faster than Cat 3 devices on the 4G network, it’s difficult to recommend.
It’s still early days of Cat 4, and better tablets are on the way. While Vodafone has not yet announced any other Cat 4 tablets coming onto the network, Samsung has one in the United States that could be a likely candidate to eventually surface in Australia.
For now, it is unlikely that the average user—who cares more about user experience than network speed statistics—will be dissatisfied with the theoretically slower 4G speeds of the iPad and other 4G tablets currently for sale.
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