By no means a particularly recent launch in matters of tablets, the Tesco Hudl 2 can still make the top purchase lists for at least one reason: a good quality to price ratio. While it is in no way a powerhouse and a collection of all the state of the art components, even going by 2014 standards (as the Tesco Hudl release date was October 2014), its only goal was to appeal to the market with a budget tablet that can run an Android operating system and still be worth its price.
The Hudl 2 comes from a vaguely odd and unexpected producer: none other than the British supermarket chain Tesco. It’s not even the first of its kind as it’s preceded by an earlier iteration of the series – the Hudl 1 – which despite the original suspicion and reticence customers had shown towards a Tesco produced gadget, ended up as the little tablet that could.
There’s a lot to praise about the Tesco Hudl 2 tablet, especially given the price that it comes at. Unlike most of the “professional” tablets out there, the Hudl 2 is genuinely directed at family use – not only integrating an easy to use interface but also featuring a number of child safety measures.
So, on we go with the Tesco Hudl tablet review.
Tesco Hudl Design
There’s a very distinctive look to the Tesco Hudl 2. The designers have taken a leap from the colors that you’d normally be accustomed to when it comes to gadgetry: if you thought the iPhone 5C was a wild way to go in terms of color palette, the Hudl 2 is the wildest piece in the store. You can get this tablet in no less than 8 color variations: white, orange, magenta, turquoise, red, purple, blue and black. And I would do a major injustice to the tablet if I didn’t mention that it’s a very attractive looking one.
Sure, it may not make the Apple visual designers cower in fear of a contender, but for its price class the Tesco Hudl 2 is pretty much a sight for sore eyes. In terms of format, the Hudl 2 is much larger and definitely classier than its predecessor, measuring 224 x 128 x 9 mm. Having grown a whole 1.3 inches in display, it is not only larger but slimmer and sleeker than the Hudl 1. Regardless, it is still 9mm thick – almost 3 mm more than the iPad Air 2 and more than 4 mm thicker than the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 – only as a comparison.
The aspect ratio seems to have changed for the better as well, now opting for a 16:9 one over the previous 16:10. That only means that landscape viewing is now better on the Hudl 2 – making it a joy to watch movies and other forms of media directly on it. It has, however, gained a bit in weight – 410 grams to be exact. That’s only 40 extra grams in comparison to the Hudl 1, but a hefty 145 grams more than the Samsung Galaxy Tab S2.
Regardless, in realistic terms that’s no reason to be concerned. The overall construction is most effective when held with both hands, things becoming a little more difficult – yet not impossible – when attempting to hold it single-handedly. In fact, thanks to the plastic material that was used on the tablet’s back, holding it turns out to be quite pleasant and easy to do. The tablet is fully covered in said material with the mere exception of the display – that is neatly tugged into the frame, stretching nearly corner to corner.
The plastic build however does come with a few downsides. One of the most worrisome of issues is the fact that plastic bends; that is very much noticeable in the Tesco Hudl 2 as it may risk some permanent damage when held under too much pressure. On the upside is the fact that a more rubbery build makes the tablet a little better in terms of being child-proof and resistant to minor impact.
The back of the Tesco Hudl 2 is home to a series of speakers: a larger one situated closer to the bottom edge and a smaller one right next to the camera. Both of them feature tidily drilled holes – a design that looks much better, if not a little too blatantly obvious. You’d think that the large holes made for a better sound quality but the ultimate effect is really just something that would have looked better with a punctured design instead. The back is also adorned with the tablet name logo, embossed and polished into the mold in the very center, along with the serial number a little lower on the back.
The edges of the Hudl 2 are home to the power button and volume rocker on the right hand side, along with several ports scattered around the other sides. Firstly, charging is done through the micro USB – found on the bottom edge. In addition, the Hudl 2 comes with a micro SD card slot that can take up to 48 GB of extra storage space in addition to the inbuilt amount. The left edge of the tablet is where you can find a standard 3.5 mm headphone port.
There is also a detail that you don’t find on every tablet on the market: the Tesco Hudl 2 has been bestowed with a micro HDMI port – allowing you to view whatever is on your tablet’s screen on a bigger, HD TV instead. Hilariously enough though, the micro HDMI cable does not come with the tablet – you will have to purchase it separately.
Tesco Hudl Display
The screen of the Tesco Hudl 2 is one of the largest hype-inducing features it comes with. The reason? The major overhaul of the screen quality. The Hudl 2 display aims for no less than a Full HD 1920 x 1200 ISP LCD build that brings the new model justice. In comparison to the previous iteration of the Hudl tablet, this one is exponentially better in a number of aspects. The mentioned resolution into an 8.3 inch display translates into 265 ppi pixel density. That makes for an amazingly sharp image rendering that goes a long way in comparison to the Hudl 1.
There are several ways in which the Hudl 2 does fall behind in terms of display. First and foremost, the IPS choice for the screen is not as performant as an AMOLED counterpart would be. In that concern, colors tend to be a little less vibrant and rich. Brightness can only take you so far and ends up being moderate even on high settings. Because of that, there is a tangible impact on the contrast levels that the tablet is ultimately capable of.
On the upside, the viewing angles do not suffer with the IPS display at all – images and videos can be viewed from any angle without losing clarity. The Hudl 2 fares particularly well in any light condition too – both sunlight and artificial light without losing much, if any of the quality of the display.
If you weigh everything in balance with the price that the Tesco Hudl 2 tablet comes at, the ratio is extremely high – there are not many other devices that could pack up so much at such a low price class.
Tesco Hudl Specification & Performance
To begin with, the Tesco Hudl 2 is not meant to be the kind of tablet that will rock the latest full HD, 3D games at the highest quality in a perfectly smooth manner. Instead, its target public is families along with other types of activities – such as watching movies, storing your photographs, less demanding games that you can enjoy with your small ones and so on.
Taking that into consideration, the Tesco Hudl 2 packs an Intel Atom quad-core processor that can go up to 1.83 GHz. It’s not even remotely close to the octa core type of hardware that we’ve started seeing in the flagship tablets on the market today, but if you stop to think about it a little, you’ll realize it’s not sub-par at all. Falling behind the Nexus 7’s Snapdragon by a small degree, the Intel processor is worth every cent of your money.
The memory is the one thing where I believe Tesco could’ve stuffed a little more in. Then again, this tablet is a 2014 release after all – 3 GB of RAM memory was the most you could even get at that time and for some prices to match. The Hudl 2 only has 2 GB worth of memory; while you’d think that’s not nearly enough, a little pragmatism will prove you otherwise. In our tests, the tablet handled itself extremely well, no matter how many apps we’d run at a time and how demanding they were. Navigating through the operating system was a breeze and switching between apps suffered little to no detectable delay.
Something that has not occurred on our model but has been experienced by other people using the Tesco Hudl 2 is the fact that the startup process may not launch very occasionally. Similarly, the device sometimes refuses to turn off; in both cases a system reset is necessary. It’s not clear whether this is a software conflict or a physical one, but does not seem to be a long-term concern as there are no other implications to speak of.
The Intel z3735D chipset integrated into the tablet is responsible of the graphics rendering of the tablet too. That means that no dedicated GPU will be handling your games and heavier apps – that might be a bit of a disappointment for a number of users; the tablet is certainly lagging behind when put up to stress tests through the latest games. And while it might not prove it can pack that big of a punch together with the Intel processor, you can actually enjoy a great amount of games with no stutter, lag, framerate drop or other hiccups.
The one aspect that may not appeal to many users but which is, unfortunately, inherent to all mobile devices out there is that the Hudl 2 tends to overheat when stressed out with graphic-intensive applications. In the absence of a dedicated GPU to handle difficult graphic rendering of videos and games alike, the chipset ends up being stressed more than it should – thus increasing the device’s temperature and consequently resulting in slightly lower performance.
As a final note, the default hard disk storage space is a very disappointing 16 GB. No other variants and no chances to upgrade. And on top of that, you might be a little disappointed to find that a great amount of that base storage space will be taken by your operating system and user interface (report go as far as saying that about 6 GB of your precious space might be clogged by must-have apps and operating system). On the bright side however, the Tesco Hudl 2 does incorporate the micro SD card slot that can prove to be an absolute lifesaver for storing your data and keeping your device clean for any app you might want to get and use.
Tesco Hudl 2 Software & features
A great relief for potential buyers out there is that the Tesco Hudl 2 comes with pre-installed Android 4.4.2 KitKat version. It’s a relief because it’s fully optimized and perfectly compatible with an Android operating system. It’s not that much of a reason to be excited that the OS cannot be upgraded to newer versions nor shows signs of that being possible in the near future. While we’re waiting for the Android M to show up on the horizons for our mobile devices, chances are the little Tesco Hudl 2 tablet might not even see sight of the Lollipop 5.0 update anytime soon.
However, given its potential chance at success, Tesco might consider allowing an upgrade sometime.
Similarly to how Internet Explorer is a limb that’s downright impossible to detach from Windows, so is Hudl 2’s My Tesco launcher. Basically, by using an Android foundation, Tesco has snuck its own software variant into the tablet to highlight their own brand. Luckily, similarly to how you can turn your back on IE and never use it again after you’ve hit the download button on Chrome or Firefox, you can do the same with your Hudl Launcher – simply download and install another one and make it default and disable the Tesco variant.
In terms of interactivity, the Tesco Launcher is sadly a little lackluster in performance and only seems to drag the device down if anything. It may prove to be occasionally laggy or making your swipes stutter marginally. Outside of that, you will be able to find everything you would ever wish for from an Android device: all of the native apps are there or downloadable through the Google Play store. Along with the default Android apps, you will find an entire collection of Tesco-related ones – such as Tesco Direct, Tesco Photo or Tesco Bank.
For people who are not used to the Android system or this type of devices however, the Tesco Launcher does an amazing job of introducing you to its world through an extremely user friendly and step-by-step setup of your system and settings, teaching you how to make use of it as you go. The interface is particularly bright and cheery, making it a very inviting interface for anyone – well-versed in everything that is technology or not.
The operating system does not differ from the KitKat we’ve grown accustomed to on other devices: you can pull down the notification tab by a downward swipe from the top left, add or remove widgets by holding down onto the screen, access your settings directly by swiping down from the top right. In essence, it’s everything you would expect from your stock Android interface.
Also worth mentioning is the Tesco Hudl’s Child Safety feature that allows you to create different user profiles that come with a default safety feature for different age intervals: <5, 5 – 8, 8 – 11 and so on, each coming with a predefined set of restrictions and conditions that browsing and accessing various parts of the tablet depends on. That way, you can easily switch between your profile and your child’s and let him or her make use of it just as well without risking exposure to harmful or inappropriate content. Another feature of the Child Safety system is the fact that you can use parental controls such as time limit – only allowing a particular profile to make use of the tablet between specified time periods.
Tesco Hudl 2 Camera & Sound
I keep feeling compelled to compare this variant of the Hudl tablet to the previous in order to really give it the credit it deserves. On paper, the Tesco Hudl 2 camera is anything but satisfactory: with only a 5 megapixel sensor on the rear camera and the 1.2 megapixel front facing camera, it doesn’t feel like you’ll be using it for anything too soon.
Truth be told, you are most likely better off using your mobile phone camera any day, any time. But finding yourself in the situation where your smartphone won’t do, the Hudl 2 camera is not that underwhelming. Your photos won’t make it to the next photography exposition but they won’t turn out that bad either. There’s a major improvement brought to the camera’s focus – at least for the rear camera, but colors could do with a few more ounces of vibrancy and better defined contrasts.
On the bright side however, the cameras are accompanied by a number of great new modes to shoot in as well as a high degree of post-editing that you can do. It also supports video shooting in up to 1080p HD format with the rear camera and 720p with the front one (that also accounting for video conferencing as well) but the post-editing is inexistent and the image is relatively grainy.
Last but not least, there are a few mentions regarding the in-built speakers of the Tesco Hudl 2. Firstly, they are proudly self-announced as Dolby-powered stereo speakers that will honestly impress you much more than most other tablets – some of the most powerful ones included in the count. This addition really enhances your movie watching and enjoying your favorite games a huge deal. The Dolby speakers really deliver on Hudl’s primary dedicated usage – families. Audio is impressively immersive and detailed, but may start losing some degree of its quality when turned all the way up.
Tesco Hudl 2 Battery
The ads and papers state that the Tesco Hudl 2 will last you up to 8 hours of usage. Something that is native to any kind of device that has ever existed, battery life depends on a series of circumstances. The way in which you use your tablet is one of them – your battery could very well last even more than 8 hours with mild to low usage such as periodically checking your mail, typing a message and checking your Twitter. Otherwise, the battery could last even less than 4 hours when you subject the Hudl 2 to intensive game playing or movie watching – especially when transmitted to a TV through the micro-HDMI port.
Overall, the Tesco Hudl 2 should keep you going for a day of normal usage. A blatant downside of the battery is its lack of optimization through the operating system – there is no power saving option to speak of. The fact that there’s no turbo charging option either doesn’t make things at all better. As a matter of fact you may come to realize that charging the tablet is considerably slow.
Tesco Hudl 2 Verdict
In order to actually give the Tesco Hudl 2 a final grade and a decisive verdict, one has to weight their expectations when it comes to tablets. The tablet comes at the abysmal price of $199 – you probably cannot find a cheaper option. The quality that it packs in the 200 bucks is astounding however and definitely worth getting if you have that amount to spare.
You can easily consider this tablet the perfect gift for Christmas, especially given the Tesco promotional prices that you can get it for if you find yourself abroad in the United Kingdom – directly purchasable from Tesco supermarkets at various offers and different percentages taken off when you do your shopping there.
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