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Supermarket giant Tesco has recently made their foray into the competitive tablet market with the Hudl, a 7-inch Android tablet priced at £119. According to the website, it comes with 16GB built-in storage (though this can be expanded with microSD) a quad core 1.5GHz processor and a nine hour battery life.
In many respects, the tablet started out as something of a luxury item: it’s essentially a truncated computer that puts portability, ease of use and a certain “wow” factor ahead of actual functionality compared to a desktop or laptop. Still, if the rise of the iPad and the Nexus 7 is anything to go by this middle ground is one many consumers (and manufacturers) are keen to occupy…and so we have the Hudl, a tablet designed to snare those who haven’t yet jumped into the tablet pool.
TechAdvisor says that Tesco’s low price point is targeted at the vast majority of households which don’t yet own a tablet: three quarters of households in the UK, according to their article. From that perspective, Tesco’s push makes a lot of sense: a supermarket filling a gap that the general public will flock to fill if the price is right.
But how is the tablet itself? First impressions from the Guardian are positive: Samuel Gibbs says the Hudl comes with a sharp, clear screen, quality audio, and 600,000 books through the supermarket’s Blinkbox service. It’s also easy to hold and use thanks to its soft backing and wide bezel, which means you won’t accidentally brush against an icon while it’s in use. At the same time, it seems to have been positioned very much as a shopping tool: it provides quick and easy access to Tesco Direct shopping, as well as your Tesco Clubcard and even your Tesco bank account. It seems using the Hudl as a Tesco shopping aid is how the supermarket hopes to make up the money lost by selling it at such a low price point.
Sites like TechRadar are less congratulatory. For them, the user interface is just a little bit too sluggish to be really intuitive, websites load slowly and images can look washed out. The cameras (one 3 megapixel, the other 2 megapixel) are nothing special, supposedly. All in all, they recommend a tablet like the Nexus 7 if you’re looking for something outside the budget bracket.
In contrast, The Inquirer says the Hudl doesn’t feel like a budget product: it feels nice to hold, but at the same time it’s a bit of a fingerprint magnet: certainly a consideration if it’s being targeted at and used by families. The screen is vibrant, but it produces a lot of reflections and as such probably won’t be used outside a lot, an idea reinforced by the absence of any 3G support. Performance is okay when playing video but struggles when trying to customise the interface or attempting to multitask.
Perhaps the biggest indicator of Tesco’s target audience is the extensive built-in guide, taking users through everything from using a touch screen to downloading apps and movies. It’s a pleasing concession to a generation for whom tablets (and other touch-equipped devices) must be foreign territory.
Our overall impression of the Hudl is as a budget product…but for what it does, and what people need it for, a budget product could be ideal, especially if it’s a user’s first foray into tablets. Its focus as a Tesco shopping aid may limit its appeal, and the sluggish interface could throw people off if they’re used to faster interfaces. On the whole, it seems like a half-decent piece of hardware that does the job reasonably well.