Tesco Hudl 2 full review
One of the best budget Android tablets to date, Tesco has done the unthinkable and stopped selling its Hudl 2. It's still a great deal if you can find one, though. Here's our Hudl 2 review.
Update 24 November: Although Tesco has discontinued the Hudl 2, it's miraculously back in stock a day before Black Friday. If you're quick you might be able to grab one for just £69 in one of the two colours available.
UPDATE October 2015: Tesco has taken its Hudl 2 off sale and is not planning to make a Hudl 3. You can still buy the Hudl 2 on eBay, but be warned that many sellers are pricing it way above its £99 RRP.
UPDATE May 2015: Some users have reported problems getting their Hudls to charge to 100 percent, or even to charge at all. Tesco says this affects a very small number of owners, and our office Hudl 2 has no charging issues. Another problem is that a disproportionate number of owners have complained that their screens have cracked. Again, we haven't had any issues with this. Cracked screens aren't a problem limited to the Hudl, of course.
In many tablets, the digitiser - the component which makes a screen touch-sensitive - is a thin piece of glass stuck on top of the colour LCD screen. It isn't bonded directly to the LCD, though: it's stuck around the edges and there's an air gap between the cover glass and LCD screen. If something hits the screen (sharp objects particularly) there's a good chance it will crack. Replacing the digitiser is difficult and therefore expensive.
We recommend using a screen protector and buying a case for most tablets, including the Hudl 2.
Tesco Hudl 2 review: Price and competition
When it launched, the Hudl 2 cost £129, £10 more than the original Hudl. A price drop in May put it down to £99, and now discontinued at Tesco you'll pay whatever sellers demand on eBay.
While it was in stock there, Tesco offered the tablet as part of ClubCard Boost meaning every £5 worth of vouchers is £10 towards the tablet so it can be yours for as little as £50 (of vouchers). As if that didn't sound good enough already, the Hudl 2 also comes with £60 worth of vouchers in the box. Some require a minimum spend but £25 of Blinkbox credit is a nice touch.
There are alternatives, of course, and we've compiled a list of the best 7- to 8in tablets.
Tesco Hudl 2 review: Design and build
The Hudl 2 has a similar but updated look and feel compared to the original. It uses the same type of plastic casing which has a nice matt finish and a rubbery grip to it. It feels nice to hold in the hand although due to being larger, is a little heavier - 401g up from 364g. It is, however, thinner at 9mm compared to 10.5mm.
Tesco has done a good job of making the Hudl 2 look more sleek and desirable. Its clean lines and rounded corners are pleasing to the eye. It has similarities with the HTC Flyer and iPhone 5c. A couple of caveats are that the holes for the rear speakers aren't neatly symmetrical with one side getting cut off by the camera and the seam which runs around the edge.
There're more colours to choose from this time round with a total of eight: blue, red, orange, white, pink, purple, turquoise and black. Additionally there are four different cases which range from £10-30 and these are also available in the same colours meaning plenty of colours combinations. Handily, the website can show you combinations before you buy. If kids are going to use it then there is a specific bumper case to protect the Hudl 2 in drops.
Tesco Hudl 2 review: Hardware
As promised, Tesco has upgraded the Hudl 2 in a number of ways. The main thing for us is the screen which is the best feature of the tablet for us. It's bigger and joins the increasingly popular 8in segment. To be precise, it's 8.3in matching the LG G Pad 8.3 and uses an impressive Full HD (1920x1200).
The display is bright, offers good viewing angles and nice colours. With a pixel density of 272ppi everything looks nicely crisp so we're seriously impressed when you consider the price of the Hudl 2. And that's not where the upgrades stop.
Tesco claims that the Hudl 2 is three times faster than its predecessor. This is thanks to an Intel Atom quad-core processor which clocks up to 1.83GHz. Tesco has doubled the amount of RAM to 2GB.
In our Geekbench 3 processing benchmark, the Hudl 2 is not three times faster with a score of 2165. But that is a nice improvement from 1371. In the graphics department it is triple the performance managing 17fps in the T-Rex test which the original could only manage 5fps. Web browsing is also better than before with a time of 768ms in SunSpider which is down from a no so speedy 1397ms.
Overall, we're impressed with the performance of the Hudl 2. The device is nippy and smooth the vast majority of the time and copes with web browsing and gaming very well. There are still little signs of lag like when switching between user profiles and occasional jerkiness when moving between homescreens but it's nothing major.
There's just one model of the Hudl 2 which offers 16GB of storage. However, we are a little disappointed that there is only just over half the internal storage available to the use out of the box so a lot is taken up with the operating system and additional software. That's not the end of the world, though. The microSD card lets you add up to 32GB cards - officially - but unofficially you can happily insert a 64GB card formatted to FAT32. The tablet won't recognise a 64GB card using ExFAT, so if you buy a 64GB card, make sure you check the format on your PC or laptop and reformat if necessary.
Tesco has upgraded the rear camera to 5Mp and the front strangely drops to 1.2Mp. There's still no LED flash and realistically the performance still isn't great. The camera can take an age to focus but if you're patient, you can get some snaps good enough for sharing online. See our sample photo and video below. The front camera is pretty grainy so video calls won't be the clearest but at least doable.
As before, there are rear facing stereo speakers and there's Dolby sound to boot. It's a shame that they are rear facing but nevertheless the experience is pretty good considering the price of this tablet.
Like previously, the Hudl 2 has dual-band Wi-Fi, GPS a micro-HDMI port and Tesco says that it will offer eight hours of battery life which is one hour less than the Hudl 1 but this is likely down to the new screen. We've found battery life to be good, if nothing amazingly special. With varied usage, the Hudl 2 will last a few days before needing to be charged. If you use it heavily for videos, gaming and web browsing be prepared to top it up regularly.
Tesco Hudl 2 review: Software
The Hudl launched with Android 4.4 KitKat and Tesco has made the wise decision of leaving the operating system mostly stock or vanilla (as Google made it).
We say mostly because Tesco does add a few bits and pieces including My Tesco (above) which is one swipe away from the main homescreen (or hit the T icon). It's a hub for all everything Tesco from grocery shopping to Blinkbox. This was on the Hudl 1 but the new version is vastly improved with a Google Now card style interface which allows you to hide or remove elements.
Unfortunately, there's still no date for an update to 5.0 Lollipop, although Tesco has release a couple of updated to fix performance issues and add entertainment apps.
Get started and Top apps
To help new comers, Tesco has created a Top Apps as a curated list of apps to download out-of-the box as the Google Play store is supposedly a bit daunting for some. There's also a Get Started app to help users to get to grips with the software including customisation, privacy and shopping.
Both these, as you would expect, encourage you to use Tesco's services but tou can, of course, buy the Hudl 2 without being a regular Tesco customer and simply ignore these parts of the operating system.
More handy in the long run, for some users anyway, is built-in parent controls. This app only displays in landscape, but aside from that, this helps you keep on top of what your kids can and can't see with a safe browser and the ability to black or whitelist specific sites or content. You can also set time limits for specific users to avoid them spending too long using it. Up to seven profiles can be customised in terms of age and suitability.
The system is easy to use and very good but not flawless. You can't set more than one time frame so you'll need to rely on the time limit instead and you can't set time limits for different tasks like reading and gaming. You can allow and block access to different categories in the web browser but the child will need to request acccess to specific websites and you have to grant access to the entire domain. For example, bbc.co.uk not bbc.co.uk/cbeebies. Another small annoyance is that you must type the full URL so typing 'google' and hitting enter won't work.
Tesco Hudl 2: Specs
- Android 4.4 KitKat
- 8.3in Full HD (1920x1200)
- Intel Atom quad-core processor
- 16GB storage
- microSD (up to 32GB)
- 5Mp rear camera
- 1.2Mp front camera
- Dual-band Wi-Fi
- Stereo speakers
- 8 hour battery life