Tesco Hudl vs Nexus 7 (2013) vs Amazon Kindle Fire HD vs Kindle Fire
23rd Sep 2013 | 14:28
What's going on at the budget end?
The smaller-screened budget tablet market is becoming a hotbed of competition, with all the big guns looking to nab a space under the Christmas tree this year.
In the past few months we've seen all manner of tablet releases, the biggest coming from two of the biggest names in the tech world: Google and Amazon.
The new Nexus 7, the Kindle Fire HD and the Kindle Fire are the three biggest names in this market, with Apple's iPad Mini proving a little too expensive to compete at this price point. We also don't expect the upcoming iPad Mini 2 to battle it out at the lower end either.
So the news that Tesco is entering the fray with its new Tesco Hudl tablet (no, we're not convinced by the name either) could shake up the budget market - but as it has a low price, does that mean it will be a terrible experience?
Budget tablets tend to come in with a smaller screen size than their higher-priced brethren, and in fact all four of the tablets being compared here come with 7-inch screens. The real difference in screens lays in the resolution.
The newly announced Tesco Hudl comes with a respectable HD screen, although not full 1080p, measured at 1440x900 pixels. The Amazon tablets don't fare so well, although the Kindle Fire HD does, somewhat unsurprisingly, come with a HD screen. It, however, is also not Full HD at 1280x800.
Bringing up the rear is its lower-specified brother, the Kindle Fire, which comes in at the bottom of the pack with a 1024x600 pixel display.
The resounding winner though is the new Google Nexus 7, with a Full HD display with 1920x1200 pixels, meaning a crystal clear pixel density of 323ppi.
Build / design
The Tesco Hudl is the most interesting out of the four tablets on offer here, as it kicks the idea of a solely black tablet to the kerb.
It comes in a total of 4 different colours: pink, blue, purple and yes, black, so you can easily tailor your tablet to fit whichever hipster outfit you choose. It also comes with a rubberised back, designed to aid the grip and handling.
As for the other three, you'd be forgiven for thinking that the designers had a Porsche mentality, knocking out iterations that follow almost standard tablet design rules.
The standard black bezel is offered on every tablet to allow for easy thumb resting, although is most noticeable on both of the Amazon models, the Kindle Fire and Kindle Fire HD.
Google has taken a slightly different tack, making the bezel thinner down the vertical sides (in portrait mode), with a thicker top and bottom.
In practice, we found this made the new Nexus 7 a little less comfortable to use in portrait, although was ideal for landscape viewing. The back of the Nexus also comes with a matt plastic finish, making it slightly harder to hold than its predecessor.
A decent tablet also needs a decent internal processor. Somewhat surprisingly, the Tesco Hudl doesn't disappoint. It comes with a 1.5GHz quad-core processor, although we have no word on how much RAM backs that up.
The new Google Nexus 7 also comes with a quad-core processor, the Snapdragon S4 Pro from Qualcomm that also comes in at 1.5GHz. This is backed up with 2GB of RAM.
Both the Amazon tablets are less well-equipped, packing only dual-core OMAP processors measured at 1.2GHz. Again, there is no official word on RAM.
OS and UI
Unsurprisingly, all four tablets on offer come packing Google software underneath, as iOS is obviously limited to Apple's devices, and Windows 8 software has yet to make it to tablets of this price range.
The Hudl comes with a stock version of Android 4.2.2, in a slightly similar way to the new Nexus 7. However Tesco has fitted the Hudl with a special launcher as well as a number of Tesco focussed applications and widgets to get people using all its services.
The new Nexus 7, like all of Google's own branded devices, comes with the latest version of the OS, which in this case is Android 4.3.
Updates to Android 4.4 KitKat have not been confirmed for either the Google or Tesco tablet, although we'd bet all our savings on that making it to the Google device.
Amazon make very little reference to Google's OS running on their tablets, the only mention being the line " Apps and games that you buy for your Kindle Fire HD can be used on other Android devices".
This is because Amazon has very heavily skinned Android, to the point it is unrecognisable, in a bid to push Amazon's content to the fore. This does mean access to the Google Play Store is forbidden, but Amazon's own offering is still fairly well stocked.
Storage and Price
Being budget tablets, the price is likely to be one of the key features in which tablet you opt for in the end.
Tesco has announced that the Hudl will be available for just £119, although customers will get double value on Clubcard vouchers against the device.
This means that the Hudl could end up setting you back only £60, and essentially free as it comes from your built-up total. For this, you get 16GB of internal storage space, with a microSD slot for a further 32GB.
Google's new Nexus 7 doesn't come with microSD support, in the same way that the original Nexus 7 didn't. It comes in two sizes, with the 16GB option setting you back £199, and the 32GB costing £239. An LTE version is also available with 32GB storage at £299.
The Kindle Fire HD comes in somewhere in the middle, with prices starting at £159 for the 16GB option, with the 32GB option a further £20, at £179. The Kindle Fire is the cheapest of all 4 tablets, currently retailing at £99, although that only gets you 8GB of storage. Neither Kindle tablet comes with microSD support.
With prices for all the tablets being decidedly lower than some of the higher end counterparts, there has to be some compromise. For these, the compromise is the push of each manufacturers' goods and services.
Amazon led the way with the Kindle eReader, and now Kindle tablets, in order to expose consumers to its variety of music, book and movie services. Tesco appears to have taken a rather large leaf out of the online retailers book as it copies the strategy to a lesser degree.
BlinkBox Movies and BlinkBox Music both come pre-installed as Tesco's subscription free services designed to allow users to rent movies and listen to music through Tesco channels.
Tesco has also put on a Clubcard and Clubcard TV app, as well as having a special launcher with a button in the toolbar, in order to keep you close to the Tesco world.
Google uses the Nexus range to push its own wares too, although this can be said across nigh on every Android device. Google's range of Play apps - the Play Store, Play Music, Play Books, Play Magazines and Play Movies - are designed to get users to purchase and rent from Google itself.
As mentioned, Amazon has led the way for goods promotion, and this is evident right from the off with the way it has set out the UI. The online retailer has managed to keep prices low by peddling its apps, books and Lovefilm movies through Fire devices, and this has also meant that Google Play apps are nowhere to be seen.
Interestingly, Amazon pumps special offers through sponsored screensavers on the lock screen. This is optional, although a further £10 is added to the purchase price to disable this.
The budget tablet is one that is really on fire (forgive the pun). Tesco has a lot of work to do in order to convince customers that the Hudl is a worthy tablet, although it has all the right weapons to do so in a large and loyal user base and many stores to hawk the Hudl around in.
The cheap price makes it instantly appealing, with it being something that many consumers might just put in their trolley on a whim, rather than a well thought out tech purchase. It also seems to have the right specifications to make sure that customers aren't left disappointed.
Tesco probably isn't too fussed about challenging the new Nexus 7, which it comes with a higher specification and higher price tag, but it will desperately want to chip away at the Fire's presence in the market, especially given Kindle Fire stands in Tesco stores. The Hudl could really give Amazon a run for its money.