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Tesco Hudl review: A great value-for-money tablet

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Tesco is no stranger to the technology sector given that the supermarket giant has been offering broadband packages for some time, but its entry into the tablet market came as something of a surprise.

The Hudl is a 7-inch slate with aspirations to claw market share away from heavy hitters such as Apple, Google and Amazon by undercutting the competition with a wallet-friendly price tag.

With generous specs on its side, we found the Hudl to be a great value-for-money package, but is it worth shelling out extra on one of the more established brands?

Tesco Hudl Tablet

© Tesco

Tesco Hudl Tablet



Hardware and Design

The Hudl comes backed in polycarbonate casing that feels slightly flimsy to the touch, but we'd call it cost-effective rather than cheap, and its rubber finish makes it comfortable to grip.

Tesco's slate tips the scales at 370g and measures in at 9.9mm, which makes it a bulkier offering than the latest Nexus 7, but by no means untransportable or cumbersome.

The device comes with surprisingly generous specifications considering its low price tag, with a 1.5 GHz quad-core A9 processor running the show, and a 1440 x 900 resolution display giving it a superior screen quality to the expensive iPad mini - at least on paper.

Viewing angles are excellent, but the Hudl's display isn't the brightest around with colours appearing slightly washed out at times, and there are minor responsiveness issues with the touch interface.


That A9 processor at the tablet's core ensures generally smooth sailing. The operating system moves along at a fluid pace, and performance is above average when it comes to web browsing and running apps.

We found the Hudl to be roughly on par with the original Nexus 7 when we put it through its paces on the software front, with demanding 3D gaming applications such as Dead Trigger and Grand Theft Auto 3 running with only the occasional skitter here and there.

The Hudl was never going to match the market leaders in benchmarking tests, but the inclusion of microSD support gives it a distinct advantage over its Google and Amazon competitors.

Tesco Hudl Tablet

© Tesco

Tesco Hudl Tablet



Around 12GB of the tablet's default 16GB is available to the users, and up to 32GB extra can be added via microSD.

Tesco boasts that the Hudl is capable of hosting nine hours of video playback, but with the brightness cranked up to optimum levels, we found that this falls to a not-unreasonable five hours.

With occasional Facebook usage and the occasional web-browsing session, the tablet holds charge for several days, and is particularly good at conserving battery when not in use.

Camera

It should already be obvious that the Hudl is not the device for you if you plan on taking a lot of photographs or shooting video with your tablet (which isn't a practise we would encourage anyway).

The slate comes with a 3-megapixel camera on the rear and a 2-megapixel snapper mounted on the front, both of which capture low-grade imagery and struggle in dim lighting.

The front-facing camera is adequate for Skyping, but both have issues focusing when shooting still imagery, and neither is capable to recording video footage completely free of blur.

Tesco Hudl Tablet

© Tesco

Tesco Hudl Tablet



User Interface and Software

The Hudl comes with Google's Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean operating system on board. Tesco has included widgets to aid first-time users, an app for monitoring your Clubcard points, and software for doing your Tesco shopping online, all of which can easily be removed should they be surplus to requirements.

There's also a T button located at the bottom left of the menu bar, granting users to all of Tesco's digital services, including the Blinkbox movies and music apps, and Clubcard TV.

Google's ever-reliable raft of default Android apps come pre-installed, with the likes of Chrome, YouTube, Gmail and Hangouts leaving users wanting for virtually nothing, while full Google Play support gives the tablet an advantage of the Kindle Fire range.

With Android Jelly Bean supporting multiple user accounts, the Hudl is a great tablet for all the family.

Tesco Hudl

© Digital Spy / Hunter Skipworth

Tesco Hudl



Movies and Music

The Hudl is a solid choice for all of your media needs, with its 1440 x 900 resolution screen offering a competitive video playback experience on the tablet, and micro-HDMI support providing the luxury of television streaming.

As with most Android tablets, users are spoilt for choice when it comes to on-demand and rental services for film and TV content, with the tablet supporting everything from Sky Go to Netflix in case the pre-loaded Blinkbox platforms don't cater for your needs.

There are two sets of surprisingly effective speaker grilles on the rear of the device, enabling users to listen to music without the aid of headphones should they wish. Playback is adequate with the volume cranked up to maximum, and only slightly tinny.

Google's Play Music comes pre-loaded for those who wish to store their music collection on the device, though we wouldn't recommend this as it isn't the device is too bulky for your back pocket.

Tesco Hudl Tablet

© Tesco

Tesco Hudl Tablet



The Competition

Tesco has been shrewd in pricing the Hudl at £119, undercutting the Nexus 7 by £80. Google's latest slate is a superior offering in terms of build quality and specs, but if your needs are limited to web browsing and watching the occasional film, why not consider the budget option?

Regular Tesco shoppers can even take away a Hudl tablet for just £60 of Clubcard vouchers thanks to the supermarket chain's 'Boost' scheme.

'Nexus 7' Google tablet.

© Google

Nexus 7 android tablet

The iPad Mini

© PA Images / Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

Apple iPad mini



Apple's iPad mini displays colours more vividly and boasts a slimmer and more attractive design, but these bonuses will cost you an additional £150 compared to the Hudl.

The Hudl has been touted as a major competitor for the Kindle Fire range, and this comes as no surprise given that retailers are behind both devices. Amazon is yet to announce release plans for its Kindle Fire HDX range for the UK market, so those who favour the online retailer's ecosystem might be best hanging fire for now.

Verdict

The Tesco Hudl is a shrewd release, covering all of the basic needs of the average tablet user at a price that undercuts its rivals.

If you're the type of person who must have the latest cutting-edge gadgetry, the Nexus 7 or iPad mini are more in line with what you are after, but for everyone else, the Hudl is one of the finest value-for-money slates on the market, and a great option for first-time buyers.


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