Review of the Tesco Hudl2 – A colourful & affordable 8.3″ Tablet

Pros: Price, connectivity, build quality and design, colour options, £60 of included Clubcard/BlinkBox vouchers, overall sound quality (internal and external), Android 4.4.2
Cons: Forced dynamic contrast, yellow tinted screen, display Ppi for the size of the screen, poor rear camera quality, Auto-Rotate problems, fundamental principles of Android customisability not employed

First of all I would like to thank Tesco (yes the supermarket) for sending me the Hudle2 for review.
It can be bought directly from their website for £130, which is also the price I will be reviewing the tablet at.
With a lot of competition in the tablet industry, I was very much intrigued to see how the Hudl2 would stack up. At its relatively cheap price and very similar specs it competes quite well with the Nexus 7 tablet, which is priced at around £190 on AmazonUK.

Update 20/04/15: I was informed by Tesco, that the price is now £100, thereby making the tablet even more affordable.

Tesco Hudl2 - Design

Before starting the review, I want to share its specifications:

  • Display: 8.3″ IPS 1920×1200 @273 ppi
  • CPU: Intel Atom Quad-Core @1.83Ghz
  • RAM: 2GB
  • Storage: 16GB Internal / 32 GB Micro SD card expansion
  • Android 4.4.2 KitKat
  • Camera: Rear 5MP with 1080P recording / Front 1.2MP with 720P recording
  • Wi-Fi: Dual Band 2.4Ghz & 5Ghz

Here’s an unboxing and overview of the tablet:


In the package you receive:

  • Hudl2 Tablet
  • USB wall charger (rated at 2A)
  • A manual
  • £60 worth of Clubcard and Blinkbox vouchers

I also was lucky to receive one of the Orange Soft Protective Shell Orange – which is a great addition to the tablet, at a cheap £10 price-tag.

Now let’s crack on with this review!

Build Quality & Design

The design of the Hudl2 is great – what I love about it especially is the colour choices Tesco has to offer. Despite the tablet only costing £130, it can be found in Turquoise, White, Red, Purple, Black, Blue, Pink and Orange (the version I have). This is great as it fits different personalities and preferences. For example, kids might prefer a Turquoise or Pink colour, whereas ladies might prefer a Purple colour and men might opt for the White and Black version. Instead of everyone being forced to choose between White and Black.
Personally, my favourite colour (and quite luckily) the version I have is the Orange one. The colour is spectacular and looks very much premium.

Tesco Hudl2 - Case

Speaking about premium, the design at the back of the tablet is great – it has a nice rubberised feel to it, which means that the tablet doesn’t slip out of your hands whilst holding it. Almost as if there was a little grip on the tablet. This is a great design implementation by Tesco and I really do think it adds value to the tablet.

Moving on from the design, we have the build quality – in comparison to a phone, this would almost be the equivalent of a HTC/Nokia smartphone. The build quality is spectacular – I have no fear in breaking it, if it were to be dropped and more so, the features it boasts are quite nice.
For example, stereo sounding speakers (as there’s two located at the back of the tablet) – which again is something nice to see. I would have preferred front-facing speakers at the front of the tablet, however at the given price-point, there’s not many phones, let alone tablets that offer that feature. Therefore, it’s just a minor observation.

Tesco Hudl2 - Speakers

Continuing on the back of the tablet, there’s a camera “5MP with 1080P recording” to be precise. Now the rear-facing camera was not that impressive – it lacked quite a lot of definition. It’s definintely something that can take a few snaps, but not something I woudl really use. With that said, I don’t really expect people taking many photos with their tablet, therefore it’s yet again just an observation again.
The front facing camera on the other hand was decent enough for selfies or video calls. It’s more than adequate to give a nice resolution call.

Tesco Hudl2 - Camera

Looking around the tablet, there’s a power button and volume rocker on the right-hand side of the tablet, a micro HDMI port and MicroSD card slot on the left-hand side, on the top of the tablet there’s a 3.5mm jack and finally at the bottom of the tablet there’s the micro USB port.
What I really like about all this, is the microSD card expansion slot (up to 32GB) and the micro HDMI port. Yet again Tesco haven’t cut costs here, it’s especially great to see the expandable storage, which is a huge plus in my eyes, as it allows users to boost their Hudl2 from 16GB to 16+32GB = 48GB – which is plenty for a huge collection of films, music and pictures.
It’s also very nice to actually be able to hook up the Hudl2 to a TV and share videos, pictures or games with family and friends. Thus, I was very happy with the overall ports and button placement on the Hudl2 – on that note, I should point out that the buttons to use the tablet are all on-screen – this is made possible by the use of having it running on Android (4.4.2 to be precise).

To round-up the build quality and design section, there’s a small notification light at the top of the tablet, which is used to show its charging status (green for fully charged, red for charging).

Overall the build quality and design is really good, especially for its price it’s well built and has design features, such as the HDMI capabilities and expandable storage, that give it a very positive vibe.

Display

Now the display was a little hit and miss for me – right from the offset I was pestering Tesco for answers, some of which have yet to be answered – but nevertheless it was hit and miss.
First of all, the full HD screen is great to use – I watched several films during my travels abroad and found the screen resolution of 1920×1200 to be really good. The ppi though wasn’t something that really bothered me (especially given its £130 price tag), but it was noticeable whilst zooming on text. Again, all put into perspective, it’s a £130 tablet.
With that said, there was a few issues I had with the display which to me seemed odd and a little off-putting, no matter the price.
First of all, there’s the screen tint – I found a yellow tint in the screen. When I put the tablet in front of an iPad, the iPad was much truer in its white production, but then when I put it next to a Samsung phone (S3 or Note2) the Hudl2 was a little more pleasant on the eyes, due to it not having a drastic blue tint. Therefore the Hudl2 wasn’t great for a true colour, but it was perfectly acceptable.

Tesco Hudl2 - Screen

However, this yellow tint becomes drastic in low-light. Tesco had no idea what I meant by this, but upon looking around the net – I found a review of the Hudl2 from PC PRO that stated “Tesco has decided to employ dynamic contrast in the Hudl 2” – it’s something I noticed upon my first days usage of the tablet. under bright light – the yellow tint is not as obvious and the white colour representation is quite accurate – but then when put under lower light conditions, the tablet becomes yellow, too yellow for someone like me, who appreciates well calibrated screens. The problem was noticeable quite clearly to my mother too – who in no way is technical or looks out for these sorts of things, but it just goes to show that it can be seen quite easily.
Now you might think that you should be able to turn this “feature” off – as you can do with any other Android device – but this is not the case, not even in engineering mode, could I find anything to adjust this horrible dynamic contrast design forced upon by Tesco. Why isn’t there an option at least, so that users can actually do what they would like? Why is it forced upon to be reminded of the yellow screen? I found that unacceptable from Tesco – especially seeing as they’re running the tablet on Android OS – known to be open-source, and customisable. This sort of implications remind of of the plague that is Apple (and even Samsung with their locked bootloaders). Common Tesco – give users the option at least!

Tesco Hudl2 - Case

Speaking about options – another thing I noticed was a lack of customisability in the notification drawer – I wasn’t able to (as I do with other Android devices) to add things like “Auto-Rotate” in the notification panel – something I fundamentally use on a tablet!
When I posed the question to Tesco – they said it was “an Android feature” – no it’s not, just Tesco’s choice.
Adding to the frustrations, came the auto-rotate bug – something I actually pointed out to Tesco and told them: “why is this the case?” – essentially, when you disable auto-rotate, then reboot (or power off and switch on) the tablet, the tablet magically switches back on auto-rotate – which is found in accessibility by the way, not in display, that is beyond me, as to why it’s sitting in there and not display.

Overall, the display is decent at its given price-point but has fundamental flaws, which could be somewhat fixed by a software update – but it’s up to Tesco to do that and drive positive change. As it stands though, I’m disappointed, mainly due to the fact that I’m used to limitless controls on Android – now that they’ve been taken away from me – it reminds me of iDevices, which I absolutely despise due to their locked down nature. When you purchase a device, it should be in your total control and not some multimillion/billion pound company. It’s my device, not theirs.

Connectivity

The connectivity of the tablet is great, however do remember it doesn’t have 3G capabilities. At the gvien price, it’s not something I’m worried about.
In terms of connectivity, it has Bluetooth 4.0, but most impressively 802.11 a/b/g/n 2.4Ghz & 5GHz. The 5Ghz, at the given price-point is really impressive. This meant streaming series, movies or downloading large files, such as games were blistering fast on my 5Ghz home router. In practice, 5Ghz isn’t really used in public places or offered when you go for a coffee in your local shop – but when you’re home, it’s good to know you can utilise the better 5Ghz band on your Hudl2.
Finally, in terms of connectivity, it should be mentioned that it has the micro HDMI port – again given the chance to connect the tabvlet with a TV or another source is great in terms of connectivity.

Tesco Hudl2 - Left side

Overall, in terms of connectivity, Tesco have outdone themselves here. There’s nothing really missing in my opinion. Despite it not having NFC capabilities, I don’t see that being a big problem for a tablet, let alone a budget £130 tablet.

Battery Life

The battery life in my eyes was actually very impressive – the standby performance was also very good – with barely any battery being drained overnight (despite having Wi-Fi syncs enabled).

 

I’ve read reports of people having troubles, but with my experience I was vastly impressed.

Internal & External Sound quality

The sound quality of any device is always important to me – and I’m pleased to report the Hudl2 – both internally and externally was very good.

Tesco Hudl2 - Aux connection

 

The external speakers were loud pronounced and clear – the fact that there was two of them, creating a stereo experience made it all the better too. The internal sound quality was very impressive too – the sound would be described as flat/neutral sounding – although it wasn’t as neutral as an iPhone or Nokia phone, as it had a little warmth to the sound. It wasn’t as warm sounding as a Samsung device though. Personally, I found the internal sound quality to be great, and for someone who is very critical about audio, I felt Tesco did it justice.

Overall Performance

The Hudl2 is powered by a Intel Atom Quad-Core CPU running at 1.83Ghz with 2GB of RAM behind it too, and as you already know it’s running on Android 4.4.2.
Coupled together these two make a great combination, however I did notice a little bit of lag entering and exciting apps. This mainly has to do with the low CPU core frequency. It’s nothing major, however should be noted when using the tablet for strenuous tasks or multiple heavy load apps.

Tesco Hudl2 - Android Version

As noted before, some of the fundamentals of Android weren’t really seen in the Hudl2’s implementation of Android, which was disappointing to say the least and there was a that problem with the auto-rotate – however other than that Android 4.4.2 runs really well on the Hudl2 and really complements it well. I would love to see Android Lollipop 5.0 on it, but realistically I don’t see that coming along. Tesco could surprise me though – that would be amazing.

I should also mention that the tablet comes with its own Tesco launcher – which can easily be changed to anything you wish via the Play Store having bundles of launchers. The Tesco launcher however is great for checking up on your Tesco purchases and/or clubcard points. This is accessed by a swipe on the homescreen, or pressing the “T” letter on the homescreen. I quite like the launcher personally.

Finally, regarding the OS – I was happy not to find too much bloatware apps included. The apps that are there, are actually Tesco apps – ones you would expect from a Tesco branded tablet.

Conclusion

Overall, there’s a lot of value for money with the Hudl2 very modesty priced at £130. Not only that, but it’s bundled with £60 of clubcard/blinkbox vouchers in the box. Making this tablet even more value for money.
There are a few problems with the Hudl2, some of which are fundamental problems, however at the given price it can be somewhat excused. Still – I would like to see Tesco address these issues, and therefore actively update their tablet, with simple Android functionalities.

Finally, I would like to share my video review of the Hudl2:

I hope you enjoyed my review!
TotallydubbedHD

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