If you'd had to guess this time last year what one of the big successes of the tablet market would be, an ultra-low budget plastic device made by a mid-range supermarket probably wouldn't have been high on your list. But then, Tesco's Hudl came along and surprised us all.
With its bargain-basement price, reasonable specs and surprisingly sturdy build quality, the Hudl showed a lot of people that cheap didn't have to mean nasty, and it served as a great introduction to the tablet market for many people, with more than 750,000 units sold since last September. And now, the supermarket is looking to repeat the trick with an upgraded version.
The hudl2, as it's styled, sticks to some of the key points that made the first model so popular – namely a cheap as chips price. When it hits shelves on October 9th, it'll set you back just £129. By comparison, the latest iPad Air will demand you fork out anywhere between £399 to £739, depending on how much storage space you want and if it comes with a 4G mobile internet capability.
Obviously, the hudl2 can't compete with Apple's flagship for specs, but it's no slouch either. With a quad-core 1.83Ghz Intel processor, Tesco claims it'll be up to three times faster than the previous model.
The display has also been given a healthy injection of improvements, with the size increasing from the original Hudl's seven inches to an 8.3-inch, 1,920 x 1,200 display – so you can take advantage of services like Tesco's Blinkbox to watch the latest movies in full high-definition.
Group digital officer at Tesco Michael Cornish said: "We know customers want easy, accessible technology that the whole family can use whether working, shopping, gaming, learning or just taking some time out."
He added the device proves cutting-edge technology needn't come with a premium price tag, saying: "hudl2 may be affordable, but we've cut no corners when it comes to performance – this is our best tablet offering yet."
Like the original, the hudl2 features a soft-touch plastic back that gives it a rubberised feel, but it's also added a few more colours to its range, so you can choose from one of eight tones to help make your tablet your own.
When you boot up the device, you'll be greeted by the latest 4.4.2 KitKat version of Android, which means you'll have access to Google's full range of apps and entertainment offerings, including books, music, movies and over a million apps on the Google Play store.
Given its budget price, Tesco is also well-aware that many hudl2s are likely to end up in the hands of youngsters, often as a first tablet or a shared family device. With this in mind, it's included a parental filter, developed in partnership with The Parent Zone and touted as a first for the tablet market.
This lets parents set up to seven individual profiles for the tablet – each of which can be customised for age and suitability – so mums and dads don't have to worry about their activities being hampered by filters, while still having peace of mind their kids are protected. Other features include setting a time limit for profiles, to ensure youngsters can't spend the entire day staring at a screen.
Vicki Shotbolt, chief executive at The Parent Zone, said: "The child safety filter on hudl2 is more parent friendly than anything we have seen before. Tesco really understands that making a tablet as family friendly as possible needs to start at the design stage."
Even though the tablet has only just been officially launched, Tesco has let reviewers get their hands on the device for an early first look, and the verdict overall is positive. Many commentators have praised the device for the way in which it improves on the original without affecting the cost.
PC Pro, for instance, was impressed with its "considerably more attractive design" compared with its predecessor. This is something that was also highlighted by TechRadar, which said the much thinner package "feels really nice in the hand".
Meanwhile, the Inquirer observed that while anyone looking for a super-fast Android tablet may want to look elsewhere, the tablet still manages to offer reasonable performance – particularly for a device at this price point. The publication also described the display as a huge improvement, noting: "Images look sharp, colours crisp and viewing angles were surprisingly good".
PC Pro summed up the opinions of many first-look reviews in its conclusion, stating it has high hopes for the device. "It's considerably more attractive than its predecessor, with a larger, higher resolution screen that looks perfect for watching movies on. We suspect it'll be rather popular in the run up to Christmas this year," the publication stated.