- Solidly built
- Stock Android
- MicroSD and Micro-HDMI port
- Intuitive UI
- Camera and speakers are weak
- Sometimes loads slowly when several apps run in the background
Tesco came along before Christmas, and while it is not a wow tablet, it certainly undermines the success of GoogleNexus 7 and Amazon Kindle Fire HD in price, setting a new trend to make tablets even cheaper. Tesco Hudl comes at 119GBP in the UK, which is a significant 80GBP cheaper than Nexus 7. With a budget Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean, a 7 inch display and a 1.5GHz processor, Hudl has made its way to consumers’ Christmas presents threatening to outsell Google’s pace-setting tablet.
Hudl has a solid built despite its price – the device’s body has very much the same class as Kindle Fire HD, with a plastic front and rubberized back. It is not exclusively stylish mainly due to its shiny plastic on the edges, and it is rather heavy, too, weighing good 370g.
Tesco designed Hudl to be predominantly used in landscape view, which makes perfect sense since most of the gaming, browsing and watching is done in landscape view. The landscape dominance is reflected in an unusual positioning of the camera and hardware buttons – the camera is in the middle of the bezel while the buttons are located along the top right edge, if you align the tablet in landscape view.
The design solution comes handy when you need to wake the device or adjust the volume in the landscape mode. However, in portrait view it might result rather tricky to get to those key, and truth be told, we still do a lot of things in the portrait view. The keys are plastic but seem solid and clickable. Nevertheless, Tesco Hudl is aimed at first-timers with tablets so it won’t be a problem for those who do not have any expectations as to where those hardware buttons should be located.
Tesco also chose not to integrate the physical home button, resorting to standard Android context software controls. You will be able to go back to the home screen, back up, or go to the multi-tasking menu with the help of the three controls. They are quite unobtrusive but may lack immediacy of a home button in iPad mini. Overall, the menu is intuitive and very easy to use – perfect for tablet beginners, and children.
Tesco has a micro USB charger and microSD card slot, in addition to the in-built 16GB, of internal storage, which is a surprise for a budget tablet. The microSD can potentially expand the storage to 32GB overall, which means Hudl can potentially last a long time and store a lot of your multimedia files.
The top edge also holds a Micro-HDMI port to plug the Hudl into your TV, a feature that clearly was designed with the aim to promote Tesco’s Blinkbox. However, it would have been a welcome addition to have a micro-HDMI cable in the box, but you will have to buy it separately if you need one.
In terms of display, Hudl does not stand up against Nexus 7, but offers a decent 1440×900 resolution, which is quite sharp and can easily compete with, say, Samsung Galaxy Tab 2.7.0. With a solid 242 pixel density, which of course does not stand up against Apple’s products, nor Samsung or Nexus 7.
Image quality is just not fantastic, with white balance disproportionate and images do not come out sharp or perfectly clear. In fact, camera is the weakest link in Hudl, with a 3.2 megapixel producing rather poor quality.
Now, speakers leave a lot to desire, so a pair of earphones packed in the box come really handy when you choose to watch a movie or listen to some music.
Tesco claims 9 hours in video mode, and it seems to be true, with the tablet lasting as long as two days of moderate usage that included some light gaming, photo shooting and browsing. However, when it comes to the charging, it is going to take you some three hours to get the battery fully charged.
Software and Interface
Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean is not the latest OS, but rather current as of now, and Hudl is one of the few tablets that run on almost stock Android, besides Google’s Nexus. This is Hudl’s main advantage –an unobstructed and unfiltered Android experience directly from Google, without manufacturer’s intrusions you will face in Samsung, Amazon or Acer. The OS allows for deep user customization through apps and widgets. Tesco added a dedicated Tesco button adjacent to the back-up button; it opens a small app with shortcuts to Tesco services you can use to shop for groceries, find recipes, monitor your Clubcard status, see items on your Blinkbox account, access your Tesco Bank account and the like. The above-mentioned services can also be used as widgets on your home screen.
Tesco’s 123 Getting Started app is a valuable asset to the tablet aimed at conquering “three quarters of the UK” who do not own a tablet, yet. The tutorial extensively covers parental control, essential apps and Hudl basics in an intuitive and comprehensive manner ample for first-timers.
Hudl does not perform smoothly, though, despite the OS, and a 1.5GHz chipset backed up by 1GB of RAM. With many processes in the background, navigating or playing may require some time for apps and screens to load.
Google keyboard is perfect for messaging, searching and passwords, with a clean-cut layout and predictive word suggestions.
Stock Android naturally comes with Google Chrome, but you can of course download any Android-compatible browser along with apps and games you would like to have on your device.
As mentioned above, Amazon Kindle Fire HDX and Google Nexus 7 are direct rivals, all three being in the affordable spectrum and all three run on Android. In terms of design, Nexus 7 takes the lead, with its rubber casing, which means great portability.
Tesco Hudl is not matching to these two tablets in terms of resolution, sharpness and camera, or sound. Sporting some decent storage and chipset, it does get overloaded with a fairly scarce amount of running apps, but overall, it offers a decent browsing and playing experience. You will have to use task managers and killers to monitor and eliminate unnecessary tasks.
Overall, in terms of affordability and simplicity, Tesco Hudl can be your choice, especially if it’s the first tablet you buy for your kid. The device is simple, intuitive and performs quite well for browsing, gaming and enjoying some of the multimedia. It may just be a good choice for a budget tablet if you are apprehensive of brand-less Chinese cheap tablets that are likely to malfunction within the first month.