Tesco undercuts Amazon's Kindle Fire with affordable Android tablet for the family

by Doug Drinkwater

September 23 2013

Tesco's 7-inch Hudl tablet could be the first of many from the world's second-largest supermarket
Tesco's 7-inch Hudl tablet could be the first of many from the world's second-largest supermarket

UK supermarket giant Tesco announced its first own-brand tablet today, the 7-inch Hudl, which is geared up for sharing in the family and hinted that more devices could be in the pipeline.

LONDON, UK – Group CEO Philip Clarke confirmed the new Android tablet at a press briefing in London on Monday and said that the company had spent over a year developing it “from scratch”.

“We started the project by asking tablet owners how they use their tablets and we found that it was much more than for email or casual browsing; it was integrated in their daily lives”, said Clarke.

Clarke, who was flanked by chief information officer Michael McNamara, group digital officer  Michael Comish and chief marketing officer Matt Atkinson, explained Tesco’s reasons for entering the tablet market by inferring that the tablets of today have been expensive and hard to use for some people.

“According to [UK watchdog] Ofcom, three in four households don’t own a tablet and that’s largely down to expense and [people being daunted by] intimidating technology,” said the company CEO.

“Hudl is a key part of Tesco’s future. We want more consumers to benefit from tablets”.

Hudl: Tesco’s take on the Amazon Fire

TabTimes got the chance to go hands-on with the Hudl prior to the presentation and the model is -- on first impressions -- an affordable and well-specced rival for Amazon's Kindle Fire -- which typically retails for £129.99 in the UK (it is currently on promotion for £99, however).

As Clarke explained in the briefing, the Hudl has a 7-inch 1440 x 900 resolution display (that's an impressive 243 pixels per inch), 16GB of memory (expandable to 40GB via micro SD card), a quad-core 1.5GHz processor and runs Android 4.2.2. Battery life is quoted at 9 hours for video and there is dual-band Wi-Fi for better connectivity, while Tesco's own video-on-demand service Blinkbox comes pre-loaded for movies, music and TV shows.

The Hudl starts at £119 (approximately $190) but could come in even cheaper for loyal Tesco customers. The supermarket says that shoppers with Club Cards will be able to use their discounts towards buying the tablet, while the slate itself has a Tesco shortcut button to Tesco’s online services.

The tablet is coming to the 1,000 of Tesco’s biggest UK stores from Monday 30 September with international roll-out (presumably mainly to Europe as the firm has recently agreed to sell its Fresh & Easy chain in the U.S) to follow. The tablet, which is available in colors of black, blue, red or purple, can be bought with soft touch cases, an in-car charger, HDMI cable, headphones and a leather case.

Up next: 10-inch Android tablet?

TabTimes spoke with McNamara shortly after the event and asked for Tesco’s reasons behind the 7-inch screen and if further models are on the way to market, something Tesco officials subtly hinted at during the conference.

The exec said that the firm opted for 7-inch over10-inch (it appears they didn’t consider the increasingly-popular 8-inch displays) on the basis of it being more compact but said that there could be bigger models in future.

“We’ll see how this goes before going to a larger tablet,” said McNamara.

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