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The Tesco Hudl is a fine multimedia all-rounder, benefiting from both the default Google Android ecosystem and Tesco's own recent forays into movies and music.
If you're after a cheap, compact media player, simply being able to access the various Google Play hubs is arguably enough of a reason to consider splashing out £100 or so on a Hudl. Like its operating system and internet browser, Google's media stores are crisp, intuitive, fast-loading and easy on the eye.
The Google Play Store is well stocked with the latest movies and TV shows for purchase or rental at competitive prices. If you already have a Google account through a previous Android device, you probably won't even have to sign up or register a new credit card - just jump in and get watching.
As mentioned already, Tesco is really pushing its Blinkbox movie rental service through its Hudl tablet. The included app is a very appealing image-led affair with chunky buttons and simple drop-down category menus.
Through it you can purchase, rent, and watch films and TV shows, and the selection is pretty strong. There's a lot of overlap with Google's own service, of course, but Blinkbox is worth keeping an eye on for its exclusive content (including Game of Thrones) and Monday 99p deals. You also get Clubcard points when you purchase films.
Speaking of Clubcards, there's also a Clubcard TV app offering here that promises free (though less-than-premium) movies for Clubcard customers. Unfortunately we were unable to test this, as there appeared to be a bug that prevented the app from recognising our Blinkbox account, but we'll be updating the review as it comes back into view.
Playback quality was uniformly strong during our time with the Hudl, whether watching our own DivX files or streaming content over Netflix or Blinkbox. Once again, that sharp screen may not be the most vibrant, but its higher-than-average resolution is a huge plus, with the white balance problem not really rearing its head.
We should take this opportunity to mention the Hudl's twin speaker set-up. Stereo they may be, but they're extremely tinny and lacking in base. If you plan to watch movies on your Hudl you'll need to invest in a decent set of earphones
You'll probably have less of a reason to use the Hudl for music given its odd dimensions, but Google Play Music is there if you need it.
This service covers all of the musical bases, with a reasonably well stocked MP3 music store, the ability to stream your music collection from the cloud to your Hudl (you can upload up to 20,000 tracks for free from your computer), and now a Spotify-like music subscription service called All Access.
It renders Tesco's own Blinkbox Music rather pointless, in truth. Still, at least it's free, giving you themed 'stations' - effectively playlists - based on popular artists or topics. So, for example, there's one titled Australian BBQ containing tracks from Men At Work, Kylie and Pnau.
It's very similar to Nokia's Mix Radio in concept and execution, but with less interesting music selections. There's not a great deal here for fans of less mainstream music, but it'll doubtless go down well with casual listeners.
General music playback quality is just peachy, but a decent set of earphones is even more vital to enjoying music on a Hudl than it is for movies. Those puny speakers don't do any favours to your favourite tracks.
The Hudl may be more of a video player and a web browsing device than an ebook reader, but it's still more than capable of filling that role.
Its Kindle Fire HD-like dimensions make it easy to wield in one hand (though not as easy as the new Nexus 7), and its sharp screen is just perfect for small text.
Once again, the Google Play Store is well stocked with books at competitive prices, which is especially handy as there's no Tesco equivalent here.
We'd also recommend downloading the Kindle app as a matter of priority in order to radically expand your potential library.
As a final note, it was through this Kindle app that we used the Hudl as a comic book reader - a task for which it was very well suited to, and a real budget option to do so.
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