Let’s all huddle together around the new bargain-priced Android tablet from the giant supermarket chain.
When it comes to picking up a new Android tablet, buyers are completely overwhelmed by choice. Every major tech company, and many unknown or untechy companies, have a tablet that they will try and sell you. At the high end of the market, Android tablets are blisteringly fast, fully featured and supremely capable. However, when you move to the more budget end of the market, the experience is much more varied. I personally have been stung by strangely named tablets that seemed a bargain until I got home and realised that they really didn’t work very well. But, at this lower end of the market, there are still some surprises. One of these surprises is the Hudl 2 from Tesco, a rather impressive little Android tablet from a supermarket.
Tesco jumped into the tablet market with the surprisingly impressive Hudl tablet and now, along with a price reduction for the original Hudl, have introduced the £129.99 Hudl 2 to the market. It may seem unusual to consider an Android tablet produced by a supermarket chain, but Tesco really are trying their hand at pretty much everything, so a Tesco branded tablet shouldn’t really be that strange. And considering the increased move to online shopping by many people, this way Tesco can make sure that Hudl 2 users are never more than a couple of touch screen presses away from spending more money with the retailer.
A budget tablet from a non-techy company could very easily have been a horrible experience, and to be honest I wasn’t expecting much. However, the surprises just kept coming. The specs of the device are pretty good to start with – An 8.3″ HD screen, marking an increase over the size of the original Hudl, a quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM and Android 4.4 KitKat. So far as words go, they are decent specs. However, the proof is in the pudding, as they say, or at least in opening the box.
Taking the tablet out, I was immediately taken aback by the quality of the tablet. I expected something plasticy and cheaply made. The reality was something very different. The impressive screen is surrounded by a bezel that is thicker on the narrow ends favouring landscape use. This bezel wraps around into the rear cover of the device and is available in a variety of different colours, with ours being pink of course. This cover has a wonderful matte finish which, while perhaps attracting nearly as many fingerprints ass the screen, gives the Hudl 2 a quality feel. Also making the tablet feel more expensive than it is, the weight is slightly more heavy than I would have expected. Whilst this can make extended use with one hand more difficult, the device feels less delicate than lighter devices.
Looking around the reasonably thin edges of the Hudl 2, users will find a micro-USB socket for charging and content transfer, a headphone socket, an open micro-SD card slot and a place to plug in a micro HDMI cable for checking content on a larger screen. There is also a power button and the volume rocker. The back of the device includes the camera and a pair of speaker grills, and some unobtrusive Hudl branding with a barely visible Tesco logo.
Starting the device for the first time, users will be greeted with a fairly substantial update before actually gaining access to the home screens. There can be five home screens in total, but the device starts with three and the main starting screen manages to pack in many of the Hudl 2’s pre-installed apps, which mostly revolve around Tesco’s other services. If shopping at Tesco is your thing, then the Hudl 2 is designed especially for you, although these apps are not too obtrusive and don’t manage to hamper the Hudl 2’s ability to be a full functioning Android tablet. It is all very family friendly as well, with guided set up for those new to tablets, and parental controls for the young ones.
The Hudl 2 is a very impressive Android tablet for the price, and it certainly doesn’t feel like a budget tablet. But we at GGUK are all about the gaming, and this is where we really want the Hudl 2 to perform.
During our time with the Tesco tablet, we have thrown more than a few games at it, and for the most part they performed flawlessly. The quality of the screen ensures that all of the games look as good as they possibly can, with the more graphically impressive titles looking absolutely stunning. Heavy gaming did cause the tablet to get very hot, specifically on the back near the camera lens, but it never got uncomfortable.
The Hudl 2 also managed to play the games well. The slightly larger screen made simple games such as Candy Crush and Angry Birds look good, whilst more intensive games such as Asphalt 8: Airborne performed without any slowdown. The only slight issue I had when playing games came from Temple Run 2, which seemed to run alright but the touchscreen just refused to acknowledge my upward swipes as a desire to jump, instead moving me to the left. The touchscreen worked perfectly well on all of the other games I tried, so I really couldn’t say why I was unable to move beyond the initial stretch in Temple Run 2.
However, there are a few issues that prevent the Hudl 2 from being the perfect Android gaming tablet. Firstly, in stark contrast to the beautiful screen, the rear facing speakers are not that great. Things are much more impressive with a headset, but players relying on the speakers can expect a muffled experience due to the speakers’ placement, and unimpressive sound when the volume is turned up. Another issue is the amount of on-board storage, with the 16GB reduced to just over 9Gb out of the box. This is, of course, easily fixed with a memory card, but that is an added expense which just increases the overall cost.
The final problem comes from the battery life. The Hudl 2 simply doesn’t have a very good battery and loses power quite quickly. Of course this is amplified by playing games, with a couple of hours of gaming quite easily draining the battery enough to require plugging in. Tesco suggest up to eight hours of battery life, but I would imagine that is only achievable if you do nothing with it. Any intensive use will reduce that time by half.
Considering everything that the Hudl 2 does well, these issues are perhaps only minor niggles. With an excellent build quality, nice features and very capable hardware, the Hudl 2 is a great Android tablet for family use. It is also a damn impressive gaming tablet, provided you add extra storage and stay close to a power socket. But the most impressive aspect of the Hudl 2 is the price. At £129, I really don’t think you could get a better tablet. Tesco done good!