THE GREAT AND THE GOOD were out in swanky Mayfair on Monday night for the launch of Chinese manufacturer Huawei's upcoming Vision smartphone and Mediapad tablet. Although the Mediapad is not due out in the UK until the first quarter of 2012, The INQUIRER managed to get its hands on one of the devices at the launch party.
The Mediapad is a 7in tablet running Android 3.2 Honeycomb. It has a unibody design, measuring 10.5mm thick and weighing 390g, and features a 1280x800 resolution touchscreen, which Huawei claims is full HD 720p capable.
The tablet has a very similar look and feel to the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7in model. Compared to holding the 600g Ipad, it's noticeably lighter, and we've always found 7in tablets much easier to type on in portrait mode while holding the device.
There wasn't much lag when switching between landscape and portrait modes, however we didn't find the Mediapad touchscreen as responsive as some those on other tablet models, especially the Ipad. It was also slower to load web pages than other models we've used, though the 3G connection could have had some part in this.
There's a 5MP camera on the rear, and a 1.3MP front-facing camera for video calling. Video playback was smooth, although those buying a tablet mostly for watching video or TV will be better off opting for a 10in model.
The Mediapad has a 1.2Ghz Qualcomm processor, which Huawei said makes it fantastic for gaming. Certainly Angry Birds seemed to run well on the device.
It has WiFi, HSPA+ 3G and an HDMI port, and Huawei claims that the battery will last for more than six hours. The Mediapad will be priced at £330 in the UK.
As the Mediapad is very similar to the Samsung Galaxy Tab, we asked Huawei if it was concerned that Apple might start legal proceedings against the firm for copying the look and feel of the Ipad. However the spokesman said that Huawei was not concerned about that at all. He dismissed the Apple patent as being based on just one diagram, adding that he felt Samsung would be the eventual winner in that legal battle.
When we asked Huawei what the key differentiators are between its tablet and other existing models, it cited Android 3.2 Honeycomb and the full HD video feature. However, the 7in Acer Iconia Tab A100 already runs Android 3.2. The 1280x800 resolution is unique to the Mediapad among 7in tablets, although it's common among 10in models.
Huawei is aiming the Mediapad at women, as it says that the current 10in tablet models are favoured by men and so it thinks there's a gap in the market for a device that females can fit into their handbags. However, Huawei declined to share any sales targets for the tablet, so it's hard to guess how successful the company thinks this tablet will be.
Overall we'd say that the price point of the Mediapad tablet could see it fall between the gaps. Currently tablet buyers seem to be after one thing - the Apple brand - and will dig deep in their pockets for an Ipad. However, the £300+ price tag will put the Mediapad out of reach of the bargain hunters who are after the cheaper models just to try out the tablet fad.
We'll have a full review of the Mediapad out soon. µ