The Hudl runs on Android 4.2.2 and all the key Jelly Bean features appear to be intact including customary five homescreens, Google Now access, the ability to create folders and re-sizeable widgets.
Tesco is, of course, in the business of selling things, so it’s no surprise to see a strong presence throughout the interface. There’s a dedicated Tesco button in the corner for starters. Here you can access all Tesco services including online shopping and banking. There’s also several widgets advertising Tesco Clubcard and Tesco Groceries services. These can of course all be easily removed.
On the entertainment front, Tesco includes its Blinkbox music and movies apps as well as a new Clubcard TV service.
Blinkbox movies is a paid-for streaming service that also includes TV shows and offers a good selection of recent and archived content. Disappointingly, you currently cannot download content.
Clubcard TV is an additional TV and movie streaming service available for free to Tesco Clubcard holders. Powered by Blinkbox, the movie and TV catalogue is older and features some obscure films.
Blinkbox Music (formerly We7) is a free music streaming service where you can create personalised radio stations. There's a pretty comprehensive and diverse catalogue of music to listen to and you can download stations for offline playback.
Tesco has made a point of talking up the Hudl as a family tablet. A device both adults and children can use without worrying about massive credit card bills due to excessive Candy Crush Saga spending. Tesco also offers additional Hudl accessories including more colourful cases and volume limited headphones.
There isn’t actually anything specific in terms of software or applications Tesco includes to make the Hudl more family-friendly besides the initial setup.
When you first boot up the tablet, you’ll be advised on the precautions you can take including parental control apps to download from Google Play, setting content filters on YouTube and checking maturity rating on film and TV content.
The same information is repeated in the Getting Started application as well with more precise details on how to set up locks and filters.
You can set up multiple user profiles, but as the Hudl is currently an Android 4.2 running tablet there’s no option for restricted profile option to pick and choose the apps users can have access to.
For total tablet newbies, the Tesco Hudl Getting Started application is a good place to head to first. As guides go, this is one of the better ones we’ve seen on a tablet. Covering hardware and software, everything is explained clearly and the addition of interactive pins to find out about precise buttons and features in different apps makes getting to grips with the Hudl really easy.
The Hudl has some surprisingly good specs in the power department hosting a 1.5GHZ quad-A9 core processor with a Mali 400 graphics processor and 1GB of RAM. It’s more than suitable for browsing, checking emails and going on Facebook, but it does have its slightly sluggish, labouring moments. It’s particularly noticeable when swiping through homescreens and inside applications. It’s enough to handle video streaming, but there's noticeable lad in demanding games like Real Racing 3.
The benchmarks don’t particularly make for good reading. In the 3D Mark Ice Storm test, the Hudl manages a 3,560 average score and is trounced by the Nexus 7 2 (11,672). In Geekbench 3 it manages a 1,360 multi-core score that is again some way off the Nexus 7 2 (2,672). In the Peacekeeper browser test, the Hudl scores a 227, which is significantly lower than the Nexus 7 (489) and just above the Xbox 360 browser (193).
The two 1W speakers around the back of the Hudl actually offer decent, clear sound for music and video playback. There’s a just a hint of bass to help music sound more punchy than other tablet speaker systems. There isn't a great deal of distortion at maximum volume and on the whole we were pleasantly surprised with the performance.
Love it or hate it, people want to take photos with tablets and Tesco tries to accommodate slate snappers by including a 3-megapixel rear-facing camera and 2-megapixel front-facing camera.
Both are low in quality and performance. Low resolution aside, the main camera lacks a flash and an autofocus, making images blurry and extremely noisy.
The camera menu overlay offers some manual settings to adjust brightness, exposure and a choice between an Auto and Night mode. The latter adjusts settings to improve low light photography but don't expect improved results. You can also shoot panorama, but there’s no Photo Sphere mode for 360 degree images.
The 3-megapixel main camera in Auto mode struggles to focus and delivers blurry images
Another 3-megapixel main camera shot in Auto mode showing the large amount of noise
If you are hoping to take glorious scenic shots, you are out of luck here. If you plan to tag items for a shopping list, it should do the job fine.
It’s a similar story with the 2-megapixel front-facing camera. Clarity and sharpness are pretty disappointing, but you should be able to make decent video chats using it
The Hudl can shoot 720p HD video and has a time-lapse mode to adjust frame rates, however footage is not great and you’d probably be better sticking to the video camera on your smartphone if you really need to film.