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2013 is the year of the tablets. Why? It is because there are much more choices available this year to suit everyone’s need whether you want to spend a little or a lot. Of course, everyone wants an iPad Air if money is no object. For me, I just want a good entry level tablet [below £200 and don’t mind 7 inches] to play with and really find out what I can get out of it before committing to better ones.
The contenders were originally Tesco Hudl, Nexus 7, iPad mini, Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 and Kindle Fire HD. However the iPad mini and Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 were above £200 at that time and therefore they were out. Now I can buy a Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 (7 inches, 8GB storage) for £120 from Argos.
Eventually I have chosen Tesco Hudl not only for its decent spec but also for Tesco’ good offer before Christmas. You can tell that I am a Clubcard holder because I have used Tesco’s Clubcard boost offer (double the voucher value) to buy the Hudl. This offer is also available to accessories like the soft-touch folding case and stand as well. The grand total of Hudl + case came to £134. With Clubcard boost offer, this came to £67 in Clubcard voucher. Offer too good to miss. I did purchase a screen protector from Poundland too.
What is in the box?
One Tesco Hudl Tablet; one AC adaptor/charger plug with a USB slot to connect to the micro-USB cable for charging; one micro-USB data cable and also act as the charging cable for the AC plug; a Quick Start Guide; a Safety and legal info leaflet.
The touchscreen tablet is well cushioned with a rubberized backing. I have ordered a ‘blue’ one i.e. the rubberized backing is now blue (more bluish purple) in colour. Other colours such as red, purple and black are available for order too. It comes with a sticker on the screen labelling where everything is (almost).
At the front there is a tiny camera. At the back there is a slightly bigger camera and twin speakers. At the top micro HDMI port and headphone socket. At the right side, there are power button, sound volume control button and a microSD card slot. At the bottom, a micro-USB port for data transfer/charging via USB connection.
Set up and install
The Hudl comes fully charged i.e. fire up straight away by holding the power button for a few seconds, longer than most smartphones. The welcome screen contains the Tesco 123 Getting started app which helps you to set things up. No need to plug and charge the battery first.
You will be asked to set up the most important thing - the WiFi connection. Then your google account if you have one. It is for downloading apps from the Google play store later. Then your Tesco account if you have one. The last thing is an automatic software update of your Hudl to get the latest versions of everything.
Android 4.2.2 Jellybean OS [not the latest but close] 1.5GHz quad-core processor + 1GB of RAM [decent spec but I don’t feel the speed of a quad-core processor]
Dual band wireless N [nice to have especially when you have interference from your cordless phone] Bluetooth version 4
7 inches touchscreen with a respectable 1440 x 900 resolution [Nexus 7 is better at 1920 x 1200, Kindle Fire HD 7” only 1280 x 800]
Front and back cameras – for Skyping and taking photos/video. Twin stereo speakers SDHC card slot to increase the storage from 16 GB up to 32 GB [Both Kindle and Nexus have no expansion slot (shame!)]
A power plug which has a detachable Micro USB data cable for charging from the mains or from a PC/game console or LCD/LED TV. Micro HDMI port for streaming video or movie to TV [paving the way for Tesco’s Blinkbox service].
Usage and performance
You have everything that you can expect from an entry/basic level of an Android tablet and a bit more. The performance is better than most of the other tablets at this price bracket.
• Good price (£119, better with Tesco Clubcard voucher exchange) vs Kindle Fire HD 7” (now the same price) and Nexus 7 (£199) • Good spec for the budget tablet range and on par with Kindle Fire HD 7” and Nexus 7 (see above) • A choice of different colour backing (red, blue, purple and black). Addition of green, yellow, orange, pink, brass, sliver and white will be nicer. • Good front camera at 2 Mpix, better than most with 1.3 Mpix at the front. • Good Tesco 123 Getting started app which is intuitive. • Full access to all Android apps - unlike some of the more expensive, high end Android-based tablets. • Reasonable battery life – 9 hours of video usage. • Auto-rotate screen • Pull down menus – left one for email, app update, Google Now notifications. Right one for settings for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, screen brightness etc. • Screen security – number, password, pattern and face recognition. Don’t use the face recognition one as it is the least secure. Someone with a similar hair style and face can unlock it. • Device security – Gmail account is needed to link the device with Google then use ‘Android device manager’ - https://www.google.com/android/devicemanager to perform three tasks – (1) locating your device by ringing it, very useful for a ‘where is my tablet?’ situation. If you have lost your tablet somewhere in the house, ringing it via Gmail will help you find it. (2) remotely locked the tablet (3) remotely wipe all the data in the tablet.
It supposes to locate your tablet all over the world as well. However it seems not working when my tablet is at home connected to my router via WiFi.
Not so good points
• A bit heavier and bulkier than Kindle Fire HD 7” and Nexus 7. • Not so good main camera, only 3.2 Mpix even with auto-focus. Pictures are not great and video quality is sometimes blurry. • No file manager installed (need to install the ES explorer app) • Micro HDMI cable not included. If Tesco really wants to push Blinkbox service and clever enough, they should have included this cable. • Power button is too thin and small whilst the volume control button is too big. Also, they are too close together. • There is no setting control to reduce/mute the notification sound during boot-up, an annoyance with all Android tablets. I don’t want to ‘root’ my device for this.
Good value for money entry level tablet with decent specs. The verdict is: cuddle or huddle.