Tesco Hudl 2 review: an underdog tablet at a bargain cost

Tesco's second Hudl remains one of the best options for a cheap tablet

IT Pro Value
Price
£99
  • Fantastic price; sturdy build
  • Outdated software; Uninspiring design; Lots of bloatware

Tesco's entry into the consumer tech market with its cheap-as-chips Hudl tablet was met with some considerable surprise back in 2013. What was even more surprising, however, was that it was actually kind of good.

Its big brother the Hudl 2 has now arrived, and it's improved on its predecessor in a number of ways. What hasn't scaled up, though, is the price; the Hudl 2 remains one of the most affordable value tablets on the market.

Tesco Hudl 2: Latest News

10/02/2016: Sadly the Hudl has been discontinued by Tesco, meaning that if you want this much-loved Android tablet, you will have to go to eBay to find it. As an alternative, an amazon Fire costs 50 but runs a variant of Android aimed more at getting you to buy more stuff from Amazon itself.

Tesco never said why it killed off the Hudl 2 but will "continue to provide technical support and help to all of our customers who have purchased a Hudl", the supermarket said in a statement.

Tesco Hudl 2: price

Like it's predecessor, Tesco's second-generation tablet garnered attention primarily based on its ridiculously cheap entry price.

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Debuting for 129, the Hudl 2 was one of the best-value tablets on the market and got even better when Tesco slashed the price down to 99.

While it's by no means the best tablet around, it's one of the best at this price point -- Amazon's Fire range is basically its only competition.

Now that it's been discontinued, however, price is a little more difficult. You can still pick it up second-hand from eBay and third-party resellers, but prices can fluctuate from 50 all the way up to 300.

Tesco Hudl 2: display

The Hudl 2's 8.3in display certainly isn't class-leading, but the 1920 x 1200px Full-HD resolution is quite a bit better than we'd any right to expect at this price.

The downside, however, is that the IPS panel isn't spectacular quality. Colours are a tad muted and washed-out, while the brightness is disappointing, and doesn't do well in direct sunlight.

Web browsing, emails and basic tasks are all fine, but the screen isn't going to be particularly impressive, and HD movies will be poorly served. If you're a fan of big, eye-popping visuals, you might want to look elsewhere.

Tesco Hudl 2: hardware and performance

Generally, we'd expect an own-brand tablet like the Hudl 2 to have a fairly low-grade processor. Instead of a total unknown, however, it's carrying a quad-core Intel Atom CPU clocked at 1.3GHz.

While the Atom is still a fairly cheap chip, and not the most powerful, it's not quite as bad as we were expecting. Paired with an almost generous 2GB of RAM, it can hold its head up with the rest of the budget crowd.

If you're expecting to get any particularly heavy-duty use out of it, though, prepare to be disappointed. Multitasking with as little as five or six apps caused noticeable slowdown, and trying to stream anything on Netflix was a jumpy, unwatchable trainwreck.

It's not hard to see why when you look at the Geekbench scores. A single-core result of 873 is very respectable and puts it on a par with devices like Google's Nexus 10 tablet. The multicore figure is much less complimentary though and is trailing considerably behind 2014's Galaxy Note 10.1 at 2068.

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It's not a hugely impressive performance. It's capable enough provided you don't leave too many apps running concurrently but it's lagging behind what we're coming to expect from modern tablets.

The Hudl 2 handles 3D gaming remarkably well, considering the device's low price, and managed 17.2fps in GFXBench's T-Rex 3D gaming test, which is about what we expected. It won't blow anyone away, and it's about on par with last year's LG G3, but it will handle light games and apps with no problems.

Tesco Hudl 2: design

The design and build quality are both incredibly basic. That's not a criticism it prioritises being sturdy and functional over sleek and attractive, which is hard to argue with.

While the plastic casing has a certain level of flex to it, it's not a particularly worrying or unacceptable level, and it feels reasonably rugged. We wouldn't be overly worried about breakages if dropped.

That's a fairly key design feature, as the Hudl 2 is marketed predominantly as a family tablet. Along with the durable build, it's also got a bunch of parental controls for ensuring kids don't get up to any internet-enabled mischief.

Balancing kid-friendly and grown-up tech is a tricky line to walk, and Tesco's tablet does it well. It's not so expensive looking that we'd worry about giving it to a small child, but equally, it's not one of the chunky, kiddie-looking offerings that we'd be embarrassed about taking into the office.

It does feel a little cheap, but then, it doesn't feel nearly as cheap as it actually is. We do have to say, though, that it doesn't feel as nice to the touch as it could.

The weight and dimensions are good as well. It's no contender to the likes of the iPad Mini, obviously, but it's a perfectly fine weight/size for slipping into a bag or popping out on the commute. There's also a pleasingly low screen-to-body ratio, which is always nice to see on a small tablet.

Tesco Hudl 2: connectivity

The Hudl 2 has a pretty basic level of connectivity to give you some idea, the product page boasts "built-in Wi-Fi" as a major selling-point. On the up-side, it is dual band. It also features Bluetooth, naturally, but no NFC which is disappointing (if not the least bit surprising).

Strangely, it also has a micro-HDMI port for connecting to a larger display. This is an oddly elaborate touch and one that we usually only see on the most connectivity-rich business tablets. It's a nice feature, but it feels a little unnecessary, and its function can be performed equally well by a Chromecast or similar device.

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In terms of storage, the Hudl 2 is equipped with a 16GB hard drive, which isn't too much. However, it also has a MicroSD slot for expanding the tablet's memory. While this is not unusual in and of itself, we'd like to give special mention to the Hudl's, as it's incredibly easy to get in at.

Tesco Hudl 2: battery

Like most of the rest of it, the Hudl 2's battery is respectable without being particularly overwhelming. Tesco claims an 8-hour battery life, and our results back that up - during our HD movie playback test, the battery drained at an average of around 16 per cent per hour.

This is about on par with what we'd expect from this tablet, and we suspect that this figure is helped by the comparatively underpowered screen.

Tesco Hudl 2: software

Tesco's tablet runs on Android 4.4.2 Kitkat, the previous Android version.  Now that the majority of devices have received the update to Google's latest OS, the Hudl 2 feels outdated, and its interface feels clunky compared with the comparatively sleek design of Android Lollipop.

On top of this, the Hudl 2's pre-installed software is a little obnoxious. Android is overlayed with some own-brand widgets, notably for Tesco's Blinkbox on-demand services, which provide music, movies and ebooks.

It's also got a hub to the left of the home screen with widgets for handling your shopping and Clubcard points through Tesco's online services. They're not actively intrusive, but the Tesco hub, in particular, is a bit grinding, as it feels like it's constantly expecting you to buy something.

If you're a regular user of Tesco's online shopping service, we'll concede that this might be an occasional boon. However, for customers of other stores, it's markedly less useful.

Some of these apps can be deleted, but some can't, and while we can't say we're shocked that Tesco has stuffed its tablet full of bloatware, it's still irritating.

Tesco Hudl 2: verdict

The Hudl 2 isn't the best tablet we've seen by a long shot. On the other hand, it's hard to complain when it's this reasonably priced. It doesn't do anything really superbly, but it does everything you want without any particularly glaring flaws.

If you've got the cash to spend, then we'd recommend something more upmarket, like the Dell Venue 8 7840. If your needs are more on the basic side, however, you're unlikely to have any complaints, and the Hudl 2 is an excellent option for those who only need a tablet for occasional use.

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This article was originally published on 24/06/2015. The latest update was made on 11/03/2016

Verdict

An otherwise entirely forgettable tablet, Tesco’s Hudl 2 is rescued from history’s scrapheap by virtue of its stonking value-for-money. Up there with the best budget tablets we’ve seen.

Display: 1920 x 1200px IPS LCD

CPU: Intel Atom quad-core Z3735D 1.83GHz CPU

RAM: 2GB

Storage: 16GB

OS: Android 4.4.2 KitKat

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