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.

Tesco enter tablet market with launch of “Hudl”

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Tesco’s continued push to capture some of the burgeoning digital entertainment market has seen the supermarket giant launch its own budget Android tablet called Hudl. Presumably pronounced Huddle, the 7-inch tablet retails for just £119 – but despite the credit crunch price tag it actually has a lot going for it.

At the forefront of the tablet is full access to Tesco’s range of digital services from Blinkbox to Tesco’s banking, and more. These Tesco-only apps can be accessed via tiny a T logo that is placed in the bottom left of the task bar. Apart from that minimal change the tablet is pretty much running a stock version of Android 4.2.2.

Hardware specs are impressive for the price, too, there’s 7-inch display, with a resolution of 1440×900. That works out as 243 ppi which Is some way off the new Nexus 7 – but it isn’t actually that far behind Apple’s iPad with Retina Display which manages 264 ppi, but cost 4 times as much.

The tablet comes with Android Jelly Bean 4.2.2, paired with a quad-core Rokchip 1.5GHz processor. According to early hands-on reports, PC Advisor noted the tablet was a bit “laggy” whilst surfing the web but commended its speed considering the price.

Storage-wise there’s 16GB of internal storage – though only 12 is available to the user. Thankfully Tesco hasn’t short-changed on expandable storage, as there’s a micro-SD slot meaning storage can be upped to a healthy 48GB quite simply.

Elsewhere, you’ll find two cameras – one on the rear and one on the front. The rear camera is a flash-free 3-megapixel camera and the front snapper comes in at 2-megapixels, perfectly adequate for video calls and the like.

On the face of it, Tesco’s Hudl ticks all the boxes for a great family tablet. Despite the low price-point there are even some clever touches like the inclusion of a mini-HDMI port, dual Wi-Fi antenna, GPS and Bluetooth 4.0.

Basically it has everything that you’d expect find on a modern tablet – minus the brand name – which considering this is Tesco’s first stab at a tablet is quite an impressive feat.

With Tesco’s offering its own digital services and products, Hudl is clearly aimed at consumers who might be considering the more expensive Nexus 7 or Amazon’s Kindle. Compared to the Nexus 7, Google’s effort wins hands-down on the spec sheet, but up against Amazon’s effort you’re getting a cheaper tablet and, crucially, it has full access to the Google’s range of services including millions of apps – something Amazon’s Kindle HD doesn’t offer with the Amazon’s walled-garden approach to Android.

Tesco has announced it’ll also double the value of ClubCard vouchers that are put towards a Hudl purchase, meaning customers can pick one up for free if they have enough points for a £60 voucher, which is incredible value for money all thing considered.

Tesco’s Hudlu will go on sale at 1,000 Tesco stores from September 30, costing £119, and it comes in pink, blue, purple and black.

Kick off the new footy season with the iT7 headphones

Forget Dr Dre, it’s all about Ian Taylor! The former Aston Villa football player has just launched his new iT7 headphones, and they look to be the talk of the terrace as the Premier League season nears kick off.

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To quote the man himself, “Listening to music whilst training has always helped my stamina and concentration, and these headphones are the best way I’ve found of combining my favourite music with sport. Training with music helps you to keep your eye on the ball, and whether you listen to Supergrass, Sinatra or are secretly listening to Steps, there are no penalties!” Indeed.

Along with the standard iT7 model, there is also the upmarket iT7x version, which includes better noise reduction technology to ensure that your music or conversations are uninterrupted by any unwanted outside noise. The Bluetooth-enabled headphones have been designed specifically to operate for long periods of use thanks to the ultra-economic battery life – they offer a music playback time of up to 7 hours, talk time of up to eight hours, and a standby time of up to 180 hours.

Both headsets are stylish and packed with all the right specs, the Ian Taylor-designed headphones are sure to be top sellers, which begs the question – could these headphones be just the start of many more examples of gadgets from other footballers? We’re awaiting the Vidal Sassoon Alex Ferguson hair-dryer with baited breath…

Priced at £99.99 for the iT7 and £149.99 for the iT7x, the headphones are available from Tesco Phone Shop. For more information or to purchase them online visit www.tesco.com/phoneshop.

TWIG: Tesco barcode scanner, easyroommate iPhone app, thinksound TS02

The week in gadgets.

The almost ubiquitous iPhone, has an almost ubiquitous tag line. “there’s an app for that.” Any the burgeoning App store means that there an app for almost everything – even the truly ridiculous.

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Another watchword for ubiquity, in the UK at least is Tesco and the two have joined forces to launch a barcode reader for the iPhone. The barcode reader, which is now part of the Tesco iPhone app, is as easy as it sounds. Just swipe the barcode of an item and it’s added to you online basket, so you can re-up on biscuits whenever you’ve eaten all of your flatmate’s hob-nobs.

If you’re looking for a new flatmate however (preferably one who doesn’t eat all your hob-nobs) then there is also an app for you. Easyroommate.co.uk has launched an free iPhone app that shows details of all available flatshares in the local areas, with relevant filters and allows you to contact the advertisers all from your handset – helpful if you have difficulty getting access to a PC or are between houses. According to the people behind easyroomamate.co.uk, one in six flatshares are snapped up in 24 hours, so having the flatshare app can be a real boon if you are on the prowl for a new place to live. Those lacking in iPhone love can also head to the sites mobile version, which should work on most other handsets. Check it out.

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Advance MP3 players have launched a range of environmentally friendly earphones. The thinksound TS02 (which features the mic, there is a TS01 sans mic) has lovely high-definition drivers. But most strikingly, they come encased in hand-crafted wood, which adds a little to the sound quality and a lot to the look of the TS02s. The packaging is recycled materials and the wood is from renewable sources, so the thinksound set is very environmentally friendly choice and a £49, it’s a pretty budget friendly option as well.