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Huawei MediaPad M1 review

Huawei MediaPad M1

HANDS ON REVIEW: Huawei wants the MediaPad M1 8.0 to be your go-to device for on the go multimedia, with expansive file format support and Cat. 4 4G LTE for rapid downloads or stutter-free streaming

Huawei’s newly-launched mid-range tablet, the MediaPad M1 8.0, has its sights set firmly on the 4G version of Google’s Nexus 7; a Category 4 LTE modem should give it a healthy speed boost when it comes to downloads and expansive file format support could make it the ideal device for watching video on the move.

Huawei MediaPad M1

With a silver finish and front-facing speakers on either side of the 8in display, the MediaPad M1 is more than a little reminiscent of the HTC One. At 7.9mm thick, with a 5mm screen bezel and weighing 329g, it certainly looks sleek and is built from metal to give it a premium feel. The 8in display is about as large as you an get and still comfortably hold the device in one hand, although you won’t be slipping it inside a trouser pocket.

Huawei says the M1’s speakers use “sound chambers to improve sound quality” and includes proprietary “Huawei Super Wide sound” – essentially a set of DSP pre-sets to tweak audio output. Forward-firing speakers will definitely give it an edge over the rear- or side-firing competition, but without having the chance to test them out in isolation (i.e. away from a very noisy MWC show floor) we can’t judge their quality just yet. Combined with 20 supported file formats across video and music, and microSD card expansion for extra storage capacity, the M1 could be a potent multimedia tablet.

Huawei MediaPad M1

The 8n screen has a 1,280×920 resolution, which is arguably the bare minimum to expect from a mid-range device. With fewer pixels than many 7in tablets, it’s unsurprising that small text and image details begin to look a little fuzzy, but the IPS panel has reasonable viewing angles and the backlight was certainly bright enough to see dark images clearly.

Powered by a 1.6GHz quad-core CPU, the MediaPad M1 felt fairly responsive with no major stutters or lag when opening apps. It wasn’t clear which graphics chipset the device was using, so we’ll have to wait for a full review to see if it has gaming credentials as well as multimedia ones.

The biggest change for anyone coming from another Android tablet will be the Emotion user interface. It completely overhauls the standard UI, dropping the app drawer in favour of placing all your installed apps across multiple home screens. It’s rather cluttered at first, but you can add folders and the end result is highly customisable. Underneath it all runs Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, with no word from Huawei on whether we can expect an update to Android 4.4 KitKat in the near future.

Huawei MediaPad M1

Huawei was keen to stress the auto enhancement and selfie camera features of its updated camera app, which should be put to good use by the 5-megpixel rear camera. It has a 28mm lens, but no LED flash, so it may not be as well equipped for low light shooting as the Ascend G6.

Like the other devices announced today, Huawei is including a category 4 LTE modem in the MediaPad M1 which could potentially let you download a full-length film in less than 30 seconds – assuming you have a 4G contract from the likes of EE, Vodafone, O2 or Three in the UK.

Huawei expects the MediaPad M1 to go on sale in Europe for €299, which should roughly translate to around £180 – significantly less than the £300 Google is asking for its 4G Nexus 7. The custom user interface and comparatively low screen resolution may put some people off, but there’s no arguing with fast 4G for less.

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