Tesco Hudl 2: Software and Apps
The Hudl 2 runs Android 4.4 KitKat with some Tesco touches that don’t feel too overbearing or intrusive on what is overall a slick and intuitive Android experience. If you have used an Android tablet before, then you’ll find all the key components in place. There’s capacitive buttons below the display, Google Now access, multiple homescreens, a notification drop down menu when you swipe from the top of the screen and the all-important ability to download apps from the Google Play Store.
It’s fully stocked with Google’s collection of apps including Play Movies & TV, Google Camera, Chrome and Google Maps. Like the first Hudl, Blinkbox services are there too, including a new books service. The Blinkbox music service is definitely the pick of the bunch, and the Hudl 2 comes with a book of vouchers to get you started with Blinkbox and other Tesco services.
The Tesco T is still up in the corner and whether you press or swipe left you’ll find access to the supermarket’s other shopping-centric interests. Here you can view Clubcard points, offers on Blinkbox content, groceries deals and find out opening times for your nearest Tesco store.
Tesco has gone to the effort of placing folders on the homscreen where you can also get quick access to other services like Tesco Direct, Tesco Bank and new services like Tesco Photo. The same is done for Blinkbox services and it’s also where you’ll find the Hudl 2’s most useful features.
The first is ‘Get started’. This is essentially an interactive manual for using the Hudl 2. It’s something Tesco did a great job with on the first Hudl and it’s even better this time around. Information is clearly presented with the kind of visually appealing interface that will quickly help you to get to grips not only with the hardware and software but tasks like using the internet.
It’s a comprehensive guide and gives you all the information you need without feeling overwhelming. Our only minor gripe is the lack of a search bar function but on the whole, tablet manufacturers could learn a thing or two about this approach to help first time tablet users.
Like the first Hudl, Tesco wants to make the entire experience a family-friendly one and this time it’s doing a whole lot more. The Child Safety feature introduced last year now goes beyond recommending third party software to protecting the little ones from accessing unsuitable content.
Tesco has worked with parent support group Parent Zone to develop the new Child Safety software where you can now set up separate child profiles. These are based around age groups and the main tablet owner can control how much time children can spend on the tablet, which apps they can access and set what type of websites they can access.
The child profiles are set up for under 5, 5-8 years old and 8-11 year olds all with different conditions based on what Tesco and Parent Zone deem children should be able to access.
We set up profiles for the different age groups to test how secure the profiles were and they are largely rock solid. You need to set up data encryption, which is basically a lock that only the main tablet user can unlock. Once you’ve set up the profiles you will be able to access them from the lock screen.
If you’ve set up time limits to use the Hudl 2 during the week and at the weekend, once that limit is up, the tablet will be inactive and no longer usable. This is a similar feature to the Freetime mode used on Kindle Fire tablets and is similarly effective.
App restrictions is something that was introduced in Android Jelly Bean and while we only had access to those permitted apps we also scanned around to see what other features we could still access. You can still turn on Bluetooth for instance, which could be an area of concern but elsewhere there’s very little you can do. You can’t reset the tablet or access any other user profiles.
Last up is the web safety feature. Here you can control the nature of content users can access and if they do try to stumble on something unsuitable only the main tablet user can unlock access to it. YouTube seemed like a good place to get potentially find a crack in this safety feature but it even made videos unsuitable unplayable. Tesco and Parent Zone have done a great job here to make this one of the safest tablets to use.
Tesco Hudl 2: Performance
The Hudl 2 sees the Tesco tablet move from an ARM-based chip set up to an Intel Z3735D chipset with integrated Intel HD Graphics GPU commonly found inside cheap Windows 8 tablets. There’s also 2GB of RAM to help with more intensive tasks and as a result it’s a more pleasing tablet to use in every aspect.
Swiping through homescreens and launching applications is a breeze and the extra gigabyte of RAM improves its multitasking prowess. It’s gaming though where there’s a big difference from its predecessor. There’s no signs of lag and framerate drop and while it might lack the extra visual sheen you get on Snapdragon powered tablets and phones, the Hudl 2 is well equipped to play games.
The benchmark results back this up as well. In Geekbench 3, it delivers a multi core score of 1,914. The original Hudl in comparison scored 1,360 in the same tests, although it’s still someway behind the Snapdragon-powered Nexus 7 (2,672).
There was one sign of concern and that’s when the tablet refused to boot up despite having battery. After entering reboot mode by holding down the standby and volume buttons we were able to get back to normal and it was the one instance where we encountered an issue with the Hudl 2’s performance.
Tesco Hudl 2: Camera
Taking photos was one of the most underwhelming experiences on the first Hudl, whether that was with the main or front-facing camera. Now the main camera is up from a 3-megapixel to a 5-megapixel sensor, while the front-facing model is down from 2-megapixel to 1.2-megapixel, making it adequate at best for selfies and video chats. That’s the same camera setup as the £129 Asus Memo Pad HD 7.
While performance is better on the rear camera, and there’s more modes to play around with, you still wouldn’t want to use it in place of a decent mid range-smartphone camera.
There are more modes this time when you swipe left in the camera app. You’ve now got the 360-degree photo sphere mode, panoroma mode, bokeh-style lens blur and a video mode, which shoots in a pretty underwhelming 720p HD resolution.
The fidgety nature of stitching images together in photo sphere and the panorama mode make it difficult to yield good results while the lens blur mode takes an age to process images and doesn’t deliver in the same way the feature does on the Galaxy S5 or the One M8 – you’ll soon grow bored of it.
As the close up image below shows, the focus handles better than it did on the first Hudl but images struggle for vibrancy and detail and still look washed out. Colour accuracy underwhelms as well and on the whole, it produces the kind of images you are unlikely to want to share.
When you shoot from further out like the photo sample below, things are a little more stable, but beyond the colourful orange building in the forefront of the image, everything behind it struggles for sharpness.
When it comes to shooting video don’t expect anything special either. You can actually film at 1080p HD with the main camera and 720P HD with the front-facing one. There’s no added features to enhance footage, though, so results can still look grainy and lacklustre.