Asus unveils $149 Android tablet

...And the budget tablet price war rages on.

The latest onslaught comes from Asus, which has rolled out a 7-inch Android tablet with a shockingly low $149 price tag. The device is due out this month in "several emerging markets," and it will reach U.S. shores this April. Asus calls it the MeMO Pad. If you didn't know any better, you might almost mistake it for the (also Asus-produced) Google Nexus 7:

This isn't quite a Nexus 7, though. The MeMO Pad's 7" screen has a paltry 1024x600 resolution, and the 140-degree viewing angles suggests a non-IPS panel. The processor under the hood is a Via WM8950 system-on-a-chip, whose single ARM Cortex-A9 core runs at just 1GHz, and the integrated battery is rated for only seven hours of run time. Even Asus bluntly states that its focus isn't "winning benchmarks" and that the MeMO Pad is "not designed for Android enthusiasts, 3D gaming [or] early hardware adopters." Rather, the company says it aims to deliver "excellent performance per watt and a smooth and fluid user experience at an extremely affordable price."

At least the rest of the specs seem solid. The MeMO Pad comes with 1GB of RAM, 8-16GB of storage capacity (expandable to 32GB via a microSD slot), 802.11n Wi-Fi connectivity, a one-megapixel front camera that can capture 720p video at 30 FPS, and Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. With a thickness of 0.44" and a weight of 13.1 oz (370 g), this inexpensive tablet is only slightly thicker and heavier than the Nexus 7, as well.

Oh, and naturally, $149 is about as cheap as it gets for a 7" Jelly Bean tablet from a major vendor. Amazon's base Kindle Fire costs $159, has worse specifications in some respects, and runs a modified version of Android that emphasizes Amazon services. Meanwhile, prices for the Nexus 7 start at $199.

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