Earlier this week, Tesco unveiled its second generation tablet, the hudl2.
It’s a slim, small tablet (just 9mm thick) with a crystal clear, rich colour 8.3 inch, 1920×1200 HD screen, plus a healthy eight hours of video battery life, although I seem to drain it faster than this by hammering the WiFi with heavy social media use.
I love the size of this tablet, which is similar to the iPad Mini and means it’s really comfortable to hold in portrait in one hand, slightly propped against my wrist while watching TV or on the train.
There’s no SIM slot, so no way to access 3G/4G, but there is dual band WiFi so it’s simple to get online at home, or you could tether to your phone to access that device’s mobile data plan.
The outer casing is a soft, tactile, easy-grip rubber that comes in a choice of eight colours: Jazzy Blue, Zesty Orange, Slate Black, Rocket Red, Tropical Turquoise, Dreamy White, Perky Purple and Bubblegum Pink. I think the purple is just gorgeous.
Inside, there’s an Intel Atom quad-core processor, Dolby-optimised audio and 16GB memory (expandable to 48GB via the microSD slot). It all runs like a dream on Android Kitkat 4.4.2, giving you access to the millions of apps available through Google Play (the Android equivalent of the App Store, for those only accustomed to the world of Apple).
All gadgets these days seem to profess to be ‘lightning fast’ and ‘ideal’ for this, that or the other but this little tablet is truly deserving of those claims. Flicking in and out of apps and between web pages is seamless and the video play back (try Blinkbox, it’s all set up ready to go) is clear, bright and smooth.
The speakers cope well in the quiet and are perfectly adequate for movie watching, if a touch tinny, although they’re rear facing which means if you’re aiming not to disturb others you’ll need to use the headphone jack. If you wanted to hook the hudl2 up to the TV to enjoy Blinkbox on the big screen, that’s possible via a micro-HDMI out connection, although we haven’t tried it yet.
Productivity wise, as a Gmail user I found getting started with the hudl2 was pretty straightforward. Out of the box, Chrome and Gmail apps were already installed (it is an Android device, after all) and I was invited to sign in with my Google ID, which carried all of my contacts, email and calendar over automatically. This meant it was only a case of downloading social apps, iPlayer and the Independent app and I was pretty much good to go.
For families, there’s a Child Safety icon right on the home screen. Click to set a PIN for yourself and to create profiles for each of your children. Once you set their names and ages, the hudl2 automatically limits their accounts to age appropriate web pages and apps.
You can also go in and manually set which apps and web page types you want blocked. I’d still recommend supervision for children accessing the internet, but it’s without doubt the easiest parental settings I’ve used thus far.
You can also set the time windows in which kids are able to log in. For example, you could set it so that the hudl2 is only accessible to them for a couple of hours after school in the week, and a little longer at weekends.
It’s possible to personalise differently for each child, up to seven users in all.
The only real weakness that I can point to on this high-spec-low-cost device is the cameras. There’s a 5-megapixel rear-facing and 1.2-megapixel front-facing camera, and they’re fine in bright light but choppy and murky in lower light conditions. This is by no means unusual for a budget tablet but if you’re used to the clarity of a premium device like the iPad Air, you might get a little frustrated.
The hudl2 is on sale now in Tesco stores, RRP £129 and available through the Clubcard Boost scheme for as little as £65.
To sweeten the deal, each hudl2 also comes with a ‘Book of treats’ including £60 of savings at Tesco:
- £25 free blinkbox credit to spend on movies, books and music
- £10 off F&F when you spend £50
- £10 off Tesco Direct when you spend £50
- £15 of Tesco.com when you spend £60
- 10 free 4 x 6” photos when you buy 50 at Tesco Photo
I’m heading out to pick up a case for mine today.
I’ll drop back and update this review some more once we’ve used the hudl2 for a few more weeks and got to know any quirks. If you get one, why not drop me a note with your own experiences in the comments?
We were sent the hudl2 for review