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Tesco Hudl Review: In Depth

The Good

  • Solid design

The Bad

  • Blinkbox content is lacking
4

If someone told you that Tesco was releasing an Android tablet, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it’d be as useful for checking emails as the can of beans you’d pick up alongside it during the weekly shop. And that’s where you’d be wrong. 

The Tesco Hudl does have an every-little-helps price of £119, but it’s also incredibly good value for money. It’s a powerful 7-inch quad core tablet that packs more pixels than an iPad Mini, and it even gives the likes of Asus’ budget MeMo HD7 pad some food for thought.

Would you look at that:

The Archos-made Tesco Hudl comes in a polycarbonate case with a matte finish on the back. It’s slightly rubbery to the touch and provides a measure of grip. It feels reassuringly dense and solid, arguably more premium than it has a right to, given its price. If you were in any doubt about the Hudl’s durability, then Tesco has launched a range of protective cases (£15 each) to go with it. 

Available in a variety of bright colours (ours is a nice shade of blue), the Hudl stands out from the uniform greys and blacks of the Android rank and file. Measuring 128.8mm x 192.8mm x 9.85mm, it’s a little bigger than the Nexus 7, but smaller in places than the MeMo HD7. Whichever way you cut it, it’s not going to take up a great deal of bag space. 

There’s a standard micro USB connection on the base of the tablet (when held in landscape), two speakers on the back, and a dedicated port for charging on the top. You can charge via micro USB as well, which is handy if you’ve misplaced the proprietary charger or you want to charge up at a friend’s house. 

Surprisingly pixel-tastic

The Hudl’s LCD screen features IPS (In Plane Switching) technology and has a resolution of 
1440 x 900 (242 dpi). This all adds up to a screen that really crams in the detail and offers decent viewing angles. HD video on YouTube looks incredible, and colours don’t suffer from much distortion when the Hudl is held at extreme angles. 

Our only criticisms are that colours can appear washed out when you’ve cranked up the brightness to full. Tesco might also have installed an anti-fingerprint coating on the Hudl, but after a few hours of fingering, we found ourselves reaching for a microfibre cloth as things got a little messy. 

Tesco’s Value Jelly Bean

The interface of the Hudl is basically standard Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean with shortcuts to Tesco services like Blinkbox, Tesco Clubcard and Tesco Groceries accessible via the ‘T’ shortcut button (located bottom left) or from the widgets that come stacked on the homescreens. 

You can dismiss these from the home screen or make use of them as you wish. You can’t fully uninstall them, but they can be disabled from the settings menu, so they won’t eat up much memory.

Speaking of which, you get 1GB of RAM coupled with a 1.5GHz quad-core processor to handle all of your tasks. 

When it comes to browsing Facebook, Twitter and flicking through multiple tabs on Chrome, the Hudl works like a charm, powering through these basic tasks with no effort. Older games like Grand Theft Auto III and Shadowrun worked like a charm on the tablet too, but newer titles like Riptide GP 2 suffered from slowdown when things got a little hairy.

Camera cost cutting

Of the 16GB of storage the Tesco Hudl ships with, you get 12.66GB to play with. Thanks to the microSD card slot, you can expand this by up to 32GB, giving you plenty of room for music, apps and pictures. 

The 3-megapixel main camera of the Hudl really isn’t that great. It has trouble focusing, and still images don’t capture a great amount of detail. In well lit locations, things aren’t brilliant, and in gloomier ones they’re even worse. 

The same can be said for the 2-megapixel front-facing camera, which is fine for making video calls over Skype, but not so hot at taking self portraits. Any selfies you’d take with your friends are likely to be more bemusing than amusing. 

Blinkbox Movies and Music come pre-installed. While you can just as easily download these apps separately from Google Play, they’re ready and waiting to be launched from the first time you turn your Hudl on. 

Blinkbox Movies comes with access to content like Game of Thrones (all current seasons), every season of Breaking Bad, and seasons 1-6 of True Blood. Shows are available in both SD and HD, and If you don’t want to enjoy the exploits of Walter White on a small screen, you can connect your Hudl to a bigger display thanks to the micro HDMI connection. 

Blinkbox Music is a less compelling offer right now. The service is still in beta and only lets you listen to radio stations based on search requests, unlike Spotify which lets you access millions of tracks. 

But the rest is great for the price…

The Tesco Hudl has dual-band WiFi radios (2.4GHz and 5GHz) which allow for smoother, less congested wireless connections. As there’s no SIM card slot – so no 3G or 4G connectivity – that means Wi-Fi is your only option for connecting to the internet on the Hudl. 

Tesco promises around 9 hours of constant video playback on the Hudl, meaning you can almost get through a single season of Game of Thrones in one sitting. However you choose to spend those 9 hours, that’s a pretty remarkable figure given the price. When you’re not watching films or TV shows, there’ll be plenty enough juice in a single charge for casual web browsing and picking up emails on the go. 

Everyday value epitomised

The Tesco Hudl is a great value purchase. If you’re primarily after a tablet for browsing the web and staying connected to friends, or you’ve never bought a tablet before, then the Tesco Hudl would be a very safe bet. Those after a bit more power will want to look elsewhere – the 2013 Nexus 7 and iPad mini would be good choices.

Specification

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