Making the Most of a Minimal Budget. Contact me at: or on Twitter: @skintsailor

Monday, 15 December 2014

Hardware Review: HUDL2 Tablet.

A couple of weeks ago the Mrs bought me a Hudl2 tablet from Tesco. It's Tesco's own brand tablet running Android. It's their second offering after the original 7 inch Hudl (now mostly known as the Hudl1).

The Hudl 2 boasts a bigger screen at 8.3 inches with better resolution, more RAM and a better processor. It retails at £129 but you can get it a lot cheaper if you trade in Tesco vouchers during the purchase.

I can say I'm very impressed by the tablet and especially for the price. The screen is amazingly crisp and clear, resolution is high enough so that the detail even on video is really outstanding

As I have apps already loaded on my Android phone, once I fired up the Hudl2 and logged in with my Google account all the apps started downloading to the tablet automatically. Some needed manually updating and/or downloading, but the whole process was pain-free.

I've played with the Navionics software package on the Hudl2 and It's far better than using the phone: obviously the screen is bigger so you can see more, but the Hudl's processor copes well with the demands of getting location information from GPS and putting it on a high-res screen. There is a HD version of the Navionics software, but to be honest I don't need it and it'll probably slow the tablet down with the extra processing workload of displaying a HD chart on the screen.

The standard definition display is just fine as you can see:

I've bought the inexpensive add on to provide sonar maps and other bits, hence why the map doesn't have contour lines as you would expect. The neat thing is the tide function, with the arrows. It instantly shows the direction of the tide and a visual indication of speed.

At the top of the picture the numbers indicate waypoints on a route I entered into the device.

All I can say is I'm mightily impressed with the Hudl2 as an Android device and also with it's ability to run marine apps. Of course this should only be used in conjunction with up-to-date paper charts, yadda-yadda.

So the processor is quick and the screen is bright and clear, but also the sound on the thing is amazing. Online videos look amazingly bright and detailed with no smearing, blocking or blurring of the image, The screen responds quickly to the lightest touch, with no lag

I'm one very impressed skint sailor. As a compact device that does everything, the Hudl2 is hard to beat.

The only downside on some reviews is lack of battery life. To be honest if I use it as a chart plotter I'd need it plugged in anyway. To that end, I'll be knocking up a waterproof case with power lead for the Hudl2 some time over the winter ready for the sailing season.

UPDATE 07/11/15

Tesco has recently released an upgrade for the HUDL2 to Android version 5.1 (Lollipop).

I must say if you have a HUDL2 then try and stick with KitKat for as long as you can. The upgrade to lollipop has used up a lot of storage space it's now marginal on storage where it was fine before. It's almost like you're using a cheap Chinese tablet.

I've already had to delete my largest app which was MX Mariner in order to save enough storage to be able to do app upgrades without "insufficient space" messages. I'm also now continually running cache cleaners in order to save memory.

Lollipop also replaces the gallery app with Google Pictures, which automatically stores your pictures in the cloud.

It also doesn't quite look as nice as KitKat visually.

The only advantage of Lollipop I can see is the battery life seems to be slightly better. Probably not enough of a benefit to do the upgrade.

There's an update due in the next month or so, I just hope the storage issues are improved by it.


  1. I've been using a Netbook/OpenCPN with separate GPS puck up until now - very tempted to have an "all in one" unit though... you tried MX Mariner on it for comparison?? Only a fiver for the app, and then another fiver for the Admiralty charts for the entire south coast - be interested in your opinions on which one is best.....

  2. The main advantage of the Navionics software is its free to download although the chart itself is nearly 30 quid. You do get regular chart updates for the money though and installing the app and charts was super-easy.

    I've not played with MX Mariner as you have to pay for the software up front before you even load the chart data, so how do you know what the interface looks like?

    Right now there's no way I can afford to spend a tenner just to look at some software I may or may not like. At some point if I meet someone using MX Mariner then I'll compare the two.

  3. Yeah - at some point soon I'll try and put a review up on the blog.. should be interesting figuring out how to do screen shots from a phone...!

  4. If you have a Samsung with a home button to do a screen shot you press power and home at the same time. That's how I took pictures of the tide apps. I'd be interested to see what MX mariner looks like , how much detail it shows and what extra bits it has on it like tide data etc.