With the Tesco Hudl, new Google Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD all available now at competitive prices, the battle for this year’s best budget tablet is starting to get interesting. Each device is designed to a crisp 7-inch display but differences in price, speed, connectivity and interface mean that choosing the right tablet can be tricky.
Which tablet offers best value? Will spending a little bit extra cash get you a noticeably better device? Read on for the answers in our Tesco Hudl, Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD comparison.
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Tesco Hudl vs Nexus 7 vs Kindle Fire HD – price and release date
Compared to the brand new Tesco Hudl and Nexus 7, the Kindle Fire HD has been on the market for almost a year. An updated Fire HD is on the way with a faster processor and dual stereo speakers. In the meantime, the existing model has been slashed in price from £159 to £119.
At £119, the Hudl represents the mostly recently launched budget 7-inch tablet. Tesco Clubcard owners can even use their existing Clubcard vouchers to shave even more off the price of the tablet, with their value doubled when redeemed against the Hudl.
Meanwhile, the 2013 edition Nexus 7 is targeted at a slightly higher £199 price point; with an expanded storage variation available for £239 (and 4G version at a less than budget £299).
Tesco Hudl vs Nexus 7 vs Kindle Fire HD – design and build
There’s little to pick between the build quality and design of the three tablets in terms of how they feel in the hand, but there’s no doubting which has the sharper screen. The Nexus 7’s display is everything Google claims it to be, offering a 1920×1200 HD display that might mean little in numerical terms, but amounts to crystal clear clarity in practice.
That’s not to say that the displays on the Hudl and Kindle Fire HD are consigned entirely to the dark ages however. It’s true that neither offers the same crispness as the Nexus – especially when used to view high resolution photographs, for example – but for everyday usage you won’t notice too much of a difference.
Hudl and Kindle Fire HD owners also benefit from the addition of a micro HDMI port, meaning that they can connect their device to an external screen such as a HD TV. So much the better for viewing high definition movie content.
Tesco Hudl vs Nexus 7 vs Kindle Fire HD – three key features
One operating system, three interfaces – all three tablets are powered by the Android operating system, but that doesn’t prevent the user experience being different across the devices.
The most different in terms of functionality is the Kindle Fire HD. Amazon’s tablet is furnished with a bespoke interface meaning it’s limited in terms of compatible apps when compared to the Hudl and Nexus 7. The Kindle also features an enduring link to the Amazon store meaning you’re never more than but a click away from buying the latest album, movie or ebook.
The Hudl and Nexus 7 don’t suffer such restrictions and are much more similar in terms of operation. Both allow the user to download apps from the well-populated Google Play store, adjust their homescreens to taste and personalise all kinds of sound and display settings. And, though the Hudl features the ‘T’ app for accessing Tesco’s online store, it’s handled much more subtly than the similar feature on the Kindle.
A question of storage space – how much space you’ll need on your tablet depends entirely on what you expect to use it for. Downloading and storing multiple series of high definition TV is liable to quickly use up lower capacity devices for example. While browsing the internet before downloading a few albums and apps is likely to barely register on your device’s memory.
Interestingly the Hudl comes out best in terms of storage by virtue of its micro-SD port that potentially offers the chance to expand its 16GB built-in capacity to 48GB. The Kindle Fire HD, now only available via Amazon with 16GB of storage, comes out worst; while the Nexus 7 is available in 16GB and 32GB models meaning those looking for extra space at least have that (more expensive) option.
Just how quick is ‘quick enough’? – the older Kindle Fire HD is starting to feel its age now, and is noticeably slower when it comes to opening apps, running games and even browsing the web.
Of the two more modern devices the Nexus 7 is certainly the quickest, and the more future proof thanks to its increased specification. While the Hudl, though reasonable in terms of speed feels like a device at the lower end of the market – hardly a surprise given its price. It will certainly be interesting to compare lab speeds of the each device once the Hudl has gone through our test labs.
Which? expert view – ‘A cheap tablet done well, or a good tablet done cheap?’
Despite its recent price cut I’m immediately going to rule out the Kindle Fire HD as a contender for best value for money tablet. It’s the same price as the Hudl but not as quick, and incomparable to the Nexus 7 in terms of specification. So, that said, what of the other two?
Well, the answer lies largely in what your budget is and how bothered you’ll be by the knowledge that there’s a better, and only slightly more expensive, alternative out there. Personally I’d go for the Nexus 7, not only for that crisp display, but because for the extra £80 (over the Hudl) you’ll be getting a faster tablet that’s more likely to keep up with next year’s even faster tablets.
The Hudl however remains a tantalising choice if only for its price – and that should go double for anyone currently holding on to any amount of Tesco Clubcard vouchers. Ultimately it’s a choice between a cheap tablet done well, or a good tablet done cheap. Either way there’s little chance you’ll come away disappointed with your choice.
Mike Plant – online writer