Now under £100, the Hudl2 is a thoroughly grown-up tablet which is even better value than its predecessor
The Tesco Hudl 2 continues to be the best budget Android tablet you can buy today. Despite there being no news on when it will be updated to Android 5.0 Lollipop, the Hudl 2 has continued to outperform every other budget tablet we’ve managed to get our hands on – and now it’s even cheaper at an astounding £99.
Much to our sadness, the Tesco Hudl 2 has been discontinued and you can only find it on eBay these days, and there aren’t many around. It’s quite an old tablet, too, meaning that while it’s still a decent budget tablet, newer tablets have come along in the last year that are probably a better deal. The Amazon Fire tablet, for example is a ridiculous bargain at £50. While it doesn’t have the charm of the Hudl 2 and comes loaded with ads and an extreme focus on Amazon products, there’s no denying that it’s the perfect tablet for those who spend most of their time browsing the web and shopping. Fast it ain’t, but it’s the most amount of tablet you get get for the least amount of money.
Another tablet worth considering is the Google Nexus 7. While it has suffered the same fate as the Hudl 2 and found itself in eBay purgatory, it’s still as light and comfortable to hold as it ever was and still ranks among our favourite tablets.
It’s a huge improvement on the original Tesco Hudl, as it’s now bigger, faster, has a higher-resolution screen and is even more of a bargain than before. The first thing you notice is the tablet’s size. The Hudl 2 is an 8in tablet compared to its 7in predecessor. We’re seeing an increasing number of 8in tablets, which we think are the best compromise between overall tablet size and having a screen big enough to do most of the things you would on your laptop.
The Hudl 2’s 8in display has a 1,920×1,200 resolution, putting it comfortably above other budget tablets which are still stuck with 1,280×800 resolutions such as the Acer Iconia One 7. This gives the whole screen a much sharper, more defined appearance and makes it feel like a much more expensive tablet.
Considering the tablet’s price, it’s a pretty decent display, too. While not quite as accurate as the Iconia One 7, our colour calibrator tests showed the Hudl2 was displaying 79.4% of the sRGB colour gamut and had a contrast ratio of 1,062:1, which is more than can be said of other budget tablets such as the Vodafone Smart Tab Prime 6. The colour coverage figure even beats the fabled iPad Mini 2, which is certainly something to shout about.
Black levels were also good at 0.31cd/m2, and the tablet’s peak brightness of 373.39cd/m2 meant it produced very pure, clean whites. The screen will dim slightly when you’re not looking at it face on, though, but on the whole we were impressed with its bright, vivid colour reproduction.
Design & build quality
The Hudl 2’s chassis is another area where it punches above its price. The tablet is just lovely to hold, with soft-touch plastic wrapping round the rear and sides. The slim bezels at the top and bottom of the screen are offset by chunkier ones at the sides, but we think these help give the Hudl 2 a balanced look. They also give you somewhere to rest your thumbs when holding the tablet in landscape mode.
Around the edges you’ll find a microSD card slot, which you’ll probably need as the tablet only has around 9GB of its 16GB storage left out of the box, and a micro HDMI port to plug it into your TV. Tesco made a fairly big fuss about the tablet’s stereo speakers and, while they had a fair amount of stereo separation and were fine for watching a bit of on-demand TV, don’t expect them to flatter your music much.
The Hudl 2 has a quad-core Bay Trail Intel Atom Z3735D processor running at 1.33GHz and 2GB RAM. It did fairly well in our benchmarks, completing our BaseMark OS II test with an overall score of 904. This puts it just behind the £150 Asus MeMO Pad 7 ME572C‘s score of 1,073, and in actual use, the tablet is pretty quick. There’s some very mild lag when opening and closing the app tray, but the Hudl 2’s performance is absolutely fine considering its low price.
Since the £99 price drop, we’ve also added a few more benchmarks to the fray and re-tested the Hudl2 accordingly.The Hudl2 isn’t bad for playing games on, but it will struggle with high-performance 3D titles.
It scored 821 in the GFX Bench Manhattan onscreen benchmark, which puts it well ahead of the recently-reviewed Nokia N1 for 3D performance. However, The best tablets such as the Nexus 9 score nearer 1,400, but you should still be able to play less demanding 2D titles without any problem and even a bit of Hearthstone if you can put up with the slightly jerky animations. Just keep in mind that you’re not buying a tablet for gaming, and instead are paying £99 for a media consumption and shopping device.
As websites get more complex, the Hudl begins to show its age when browsing. It scored 987 in the Peacekeeper browser benchmark, putting it well behind the Google Nexus 9’s score of 2,020. We noticed a bit of delay when browsing complicated web pages on The Guardian with nested comments, but generally scrolling showed no signs of stutter and zooming in was very smooth once a page is loaded.
The Hudl 2’s only major flaw is its battery life. The tablet managed 6h 58m of continuous video playback when we set the screen to 170cd/m2, which is definitely below average and far behind the 9h 35m we saw from the original Hudl. If you’re after a tablet to take on long journeys, this probably isn’t the model for you, and you’ll need to be prepared to charge it every night – especially if your entire family wants a go.
|Quad-core 1.33GHz Intel Atom Z3735D
|Memory card slot (supplied)