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Yawn. “Tablets” is fast becoming the most boring device genre on earth, with no diversity, no new ideas or differentiating features. Even iPad sales are down, and those things used to be the, well, apple of Apple’s eye.
Roll on Huawei. The Chinese mega company rolled into South Africa just a few years ago, initially offering a batch of routers and wireless communication options for consumers perusal. Sure enough, it branched out into smartphones and now offers a swathe of tablets too. But are they part of the mashed potatoes and gravy all the tech companies are feeding us nowadays?
Well, we reviewed the Tablet 7 Youth 2 earlier in the month, and we suggest you have a gander over here for that, but as for the Huawei MediaPad 10 Link+, it’s more like a posh coleslaw, if there is such a thing.
For clarification’s sake, the MediaPad 10 Link+ is the upgrade of the MediaPad 10 Link. Obvious, but often obviously overlooked. This’ll be brought up later, sure enough, when we have a look at the features and specs.
Nevertheless, onto the packaging. the box is a nice proposition and gives all the information a prospective buyer should need on its exterior in silver etching. And for one, it’s accurate. There’s no suggesting a Full HD screen when it’s less than 720p — none of that.
It’s attractive and would certainly warrant a peek inside. Once you get the top cover open, the tablet is secured in the top section of the box, with the usual dosage of extras (like the charging cable and adapter) nestling beneath. The standard fare’s included, but the bundled earphones are more pleasant than most. With that said, the charging brick is just that — a brick.
Design and aesthetics
It does match the size of its overlord though because for a 10-inch tablet, the MediaPad 10 Link+ is the hippo of its genre.
Although I’ve felt held tablets before (the Lenovo YOGA Tablet 2 Pro springs to mind), I haven’t experienced something as weighty in the 10-inch range as this. Nevertheless, it is a hippo that just had its nails and hair done, fit with short bejeweled skirt and heels.
As noted, we have a 10.1-inch screen and a video-calling camera with a tiny sensor up front. Around the sides we have the usual quota of ports and buttons, including the volume rocker and power button at the bottom left, and the headphone and microUSB ports at the top right.
Around the back, there’s a slightly garish (faux?) aluminium back plate (à la MTN Steppa Tablet) which hasn’t looked good since Apple used it on the iPad range. The rear camera sticks out from the main body of the device and hidden in the rear is the microSD expansion port and the full-SIM slot.
The stereo speakers flank the tablet’s rear but upper quarters. All in all, it’s not the ugliest device in the known universe, but it’s not the classiest either.
Exterior aside, there are a few differentiating features from its older, less accomplished brother. To be fair, the Link+ isn’t exactly any better either.
For starters, a home-rolled HiSilicon Kirin 1.6 GHz quad-core system-on-chip is the brains of the operation, with 1GB of RAM and up to 16GB of flash storage. While this all sounds decidedly average, it’s enough for those who can’t pat heads and rub tummies simultaneously.
The Link featured a 1.2GHz quad-core, and was anything but fast, and hell, the Link+ features the exact same screen as before. The 10.1-inch unit still features a rather under par 1280×800 resolution. It’s IPS technology though, so the viewing angles are decent. The pixel density is terribly below the industry average though, and can easily be compared to a 1980’s television set.
Other tech baked in includes Bluetooth (naturally), Wi-Fi (obviously) and LTE (very necessary). Imaging is handled by a 5MP rear camera and a VGA front camera, while sound comes from DTS-enabled stereo speakers.
And most importantly, there’s a sizable battery lodged into its hind-quarters.
It’s the most noticeable part of its performance too, with the battery lasting well over three days when used constantly. And by constantly I mean as constantly as an average person would use it.
Just standing by table-side however, the battery lasts over a week. It’s brilliant. Unfortunately, the MediaPad 10 Link+ in performance terms at least is sluggish, bloated and uninspiring. 1GB of RAM is more than enough, sure, but the CPU just can’t seem to keep up.
The Link had the exact same issues, so I’m beginning to wonder what Huawei had actually improved on this thing.
YouTube and the like are fair game, but flipping through Android menus and apps vigorously is just not an option. You won’t be doing much gaming on this thing though, unless you still play Angry Birds.
And remember that 10-inch IPS screen? Well, it flickers like those old CRT monitors. And yes, I adjusted the automatic brightness control, dropped it to its lowest setting, upped it to its brightest and still, the same flicker. It just isn’t something you particularly want in a tablet, especially one that you plan to use for at least three hours a day.
Noted, Android 5.0 Lollipop is out at the moment too, and goodness, even KitKat for the best part of a year now, but what does this tablet run? Android 4.2 Ice Cream Sandwich. The UI, even with the Emotion UI attached, just doesn’t feel as slick as it could. And hell, doesn’t feel as slick as other Huawei products.
The camera quality also leaves a lot to be desired, and this goes for video calling in general.
Practicality and portability
It’s a double-edged sword, this one. On the one side, there’s the MediaPad 10 Link+’s monumentally stellar battery life keeps it afloat but as a result, this thing also weights a ton. It’s not a device you can throw in a handbag and toddle off to the shops or leave on a light plastic table without it sinking through like molten lead.
As a coffee-table tablet (that’s right, recipe or landscape photography books don’t seem to cut it anymore), it’s perfect, but as a digital best friend that follows you everywhere, it’s a terrible buy (unless you don’t want to waste time curling dumbbells at the gym).
Value for money
Now here’s a contentious issue. Granted, the battery lasts forever but there are too many other issues to just ignore with the MediaPad 10 Link+. It’s not worth its price, not in the slightest. It’s not a device you’d call “cheap” either.
The Link amazingly retailed for R4499 back in late 2013. The Link+ at least comes in around the three grand mark, but even so, it’s just not on par with cheaper tablets.
Verdict: Even with the mutant camel levels of battery stamina and speakers that could shame many flat screen TV sets, the Huawei MediaPad 10 Link+ isn’t the best tablet in its price range. Like most devices I dislike, there are more issues with it than gleaming positives, and for this reason I couldn’t live with it on the daily, let alone lug it around.