Tesco Hudl2 – best budget tablet on the market?

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If industry figures are to be believed the tablet market is facing a bit of a slump, with reasons varying from a gimmick that’s outlived its sell-by date to a victim of the “phablet” revolution. If tightening the purse-strings is also a factor then budget tablets like the Hudl should be in their healthiest position yet, so it’s not at all surprising to see Tesco launch the successor.

The Hudl 2 retains the original’s low-cost appeal by arriving at a wallet-friendly £129 (just £10 more than the original’s initial price), and this comes with a number of improvements including a larger 8.3” full HD (1920×1200) display, an upgraded Atom quad-core 1.83GHz processor that Tesco claims is three times faster than the original, double the RAM at 2GB and 16GB of expandable storage. It runs Android Kitkat 4.4.2 and comes bundled with a parental control app that it’s pushing as a bit of a USP – seven user profiles are available tailored to age and suitability that parents can have up and running in minutes.

It’s out already, so we’ve got a handful of reviews and first impressions to help you decide if this tablet deserves a place in the home.

TechRadar’s a big fan. It describes the Hudl2 as a “stylish, desirable, and cheap full-featured Android tablet that will satisfy the whole family”, awarding it a mightily impressive 4.5/5. Claiming that it outshines virtually everything in this price bracket, highlights include the display, which is “rich and vibrant, text is sharp and easy to read, and you can happily watch movies, game, or read on it for hours.”  It’s also impressed by the balance, slim line design and soft touch coating for added grip, and stereo speakers that “really enhance movie watching and gaming”. Unfortunately the battery life, which is quoted at 8 hours, seems to be a bit of a letdown – its 90 minute battery test video at full brightness reduced a full charge to 63%, which left TechRadar questioning its suitability when taken outside the home.

PC Advisor is similarly gushing, awarding it the same score and calling it “one of the best budget tablets you can buy”. It also points out that with Tesco’s ClubCard Boost, every £5 of vouchers is worth £10 towards the tablet, so you can actually get it for as little of £65 worth of vouchers. Now that’s a bargain.

It’s impressed by the general performance overall, calling it “nippy and smooth the vast majority of the time and copes with web browsing and gaming very well.” It’s also nice to hear that Tesco hasn’t flooded the Hudl2 with proprietary apps and has left the OS pretty much alone, though does subtly encourage you to try to opt for Tesco’s services with its own simplified app market. You don’t have to use this of course, and in fairness it complements the parental controls nicely by providing a more accessible way for beginners to get started. On the downside there aren’t a lot of good things to say about the upgraded 5MP camera (though it has strangely reduced the front-facer to 1.2MP), which without an LED flash doesn’t offer great performances and can take an age to focus.

We’ll round things off with CNet who awards it 4/5 (which still qualifies as being rated “Excellent”) and echoes many of the positives outlined above.  It goes into a little more detail on the software front, outlining Tesco’s Blinkbox service which lets you download films, music and books (though not very cheaply) and a range of software that is able to:

“teach you everything you need to know about using it, from how to use the navigation buttons, how and where to download apps, how to use apps to socialise and how to use privacy and security settings.”

Along with a range of colour cases, parental controls and detailed information about the sort of things you might need to safeguard your kids from, it certainly seems as though Tesco is marketing this squarely as a tablet “for all the family”.

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At this price and with these sorts of reviews though, we can see it being very popular full stop. It’s ideal for fence-sitters who haven’t yet decided whether they want one and occasional users who can’t justify the cost of an iPad Air or Galaxy Tab S – surely two relatively untapped markets. And with that Clubcard Boost thrown in we might actually have to dig around to see if we have any old unused vouchers as well.

The Hudl2 is available now at £129 in the UK.