Despite the budget price, the Hudl has, we have to say, a reasonable specification. Much better than we expected, in fact.
The Hudl has a 7 in screen matching the Kindle Fire HD, and like Amazon's tablets this has been designed to be used in landscape mode. You can still use portrait if you wish. The resolution is decent for a budget tablet at 1440 x 900 (higher than the iPad mini) and viewing angles are good which, to be honest, we weren't expecting. A pixel density of 243 pixels per inch is not to be sniffed at.
The first Kindle Fire HD has a 7in, 1280 x 800 10-point multitouch capacitive screen which uses an IPS LCD panel. That makes HD movies look good, with decent detail at a decent pixel-density level of 215 ppi. One of the advantages of the Kindle Fire HD 8.9 is its excellent full HD screen. It has a resolution of 1920 x 1080 which means that it has a winning pixel density of 254 ppi over a bigger area. In the case of all three devices viewing angles are wide, colours are deep and contrast is good. But the 8.9in Kindle Fire HD tablet makes up for its heavier weight with a bigger, more detailed screen.
Unfortunately we found that the Hudl's screen is occasionally unresponsive and in general we needed to set brightness to the maximum level.
Tesco Hudl vs Kindle Fire HD: Specification and performance
In terms of performance the Hudl beats out the other two, although that doesn't make it a top performer. Just solid and good for the price.
Being blunt, the 7in Kindle Fire HD isn't as fast as we'd have liked. In use it doesn't feel as snappy as an iPad mini or Nexus 7, especially when browsing the web or launching apps. Scrolling around web pages shows a white screen until the content is loaded.
The Kindle Fire HD 8.9 has a faster dual-core processor than the Kindle Fire HD but this doesn't make it feel noticeably zippier in general use. Both Kindle Fire HD devices trail the Nexus 7 in this respect, although the Kindle Fire HD 8.9 pretty much matches that tablet in our benchmarks.
Turning to the Hudle, its 1.5 GHz quad-core A9 processor copes fairly well with its job. Navigation around the OS is nippy enough if not lightning fast. Web browsing and gaming is reasonable but nothing more which is reflected in our benchmark tests.
The Hudl scores 1583 in Geekbench 2 which is a little more than the original Nexus 7, and beats out both Kindle Fire HD tablets. It's only one frame off the Galaxy Note 8 (which is considerably more expensive) in GLBenchmark 2.5 - it managed 17 fps. In SunSpider 1.0, the Hudl scores a middling 1397 ms.
Tesco says that the Hudl can provide up to 9 hours of video playback, depending on various settings. At maximum brightness (for comfortable viewing), streaming a 30 minute BBC iPlayer TV show over Wi-Fi used just under 10 percent of the battery. So it will last around five hours in total if you only watch video.
General battery life will depend on how often you use the device. If you pick it up occasionally to check Facebook or Google who that actor is on TV you can't place then it will give you a few days' worth of use. The Hudl holds its charge very well when not in use. We'd like some kind of power management though, so that Wi-Fi could be automatically switched off with the screen.
Both the Kindle Fire HD and the Kindle Fire HD 8.9 offer good battery life, too.
Amazon claims that you will get more than 10 hours of continuous use out of the Kindle Fire HD 8.9. In our tests we managed 7 hours and 15 minutes playing back video at full brightness with Wi-Fi switched on. This is a good result for a tablet with a 9in screen. It would certainly allow you to watch movies throughout a long flight, for instance (although you'd need to be online to watch the movie.)
The 7in Kindle Fire HD lasted even longer - putting in a performance of 7 hours and 42 minutes in the same test. Again the Nexus 7 outperforms the Kindle Fire HD tablets, with a result of 9 hours and 40 minutes, but this is exceptional. Even the iPad mini couldn't match that (at maximum brightness), lasting just six minutes longer than the Kindle Fire HD 8.9.
Note that you don't get a mains charger in the box with either Amazon device, and the Fire HD 8.9in will take a foot-tapping 14-odd hours to charge via your laptop or PC's USB port. That drops to around four hours with the optional Kindle charger – it's well worth budgeting for that when you buy if you don't already have a USB charger.
Tesco Hudl vs Kindle Fire HD: Storage
There's only one model of the Hudl and that comes with 16 GB of storage (around 12 GB available). There is a microSD card for adding up to 32 GB more, which is another plus point when compared to the Amazon competition, although those tablets can come with more storage.
You can choose either 16GB or 32GB models of both the Kindle Fire HD and the Kindle Fire HD 8.9. Neither of the Kindle Fire HD tablets offers expandable storage. Also, you shouldn't expect to have all of that storage available for apps and media. In our tests the 16GB Kindle Fire HD 8.9 had 12.7GB available for storage. With the 32GB model we found 27.1GB of usable storage.
Let's call this one a draw.
Tesco Hudl vs Kindle Fire HD: Design and build quality
Build quality and design are subjective things, and it is important to say that these are all well-built devices. Almost on a whim we err toward the Hudl.
The Hudl feels nice in the hand with its soft touch plastic casing which comes in four colours: black, blue, red and purple. It's a little chunkier and heavier than the latest Nexus 7 at 9.9 mm and 370 g but the device doesn't feel unwieldy. It's also very well built for a cheap tablet with a solid and durable construction. At 567g the Kindle Fire HD 8.9 is a little heavy for a tablet. If weight is an issue you could opt for the lighter Kindle Fire HD. Its 395g feels significantly lighter, especially when in use as an e-reader. Of course the Hudl beats them both/
Kindle Fire HD tablets are designed to be used often and on the move, and to sell at a cheap price. The Kindle Fire HD 8.9 shares almost identical design and build quality with the 7in Kindle Fire HD: a shiny black slab with a capacitative touchscreen taking up most of the front. The 8.9in model is simply stretched to incorporate that bigger screen. This means that in both cases the screen is designed to be used in landscape format for everything but reading books.
The Kindle Fires are robust and built to last but lack a little of the stylish finish of iPads or Nexus tablets. We think we prefer the Hudl in this respect, but all three devices are solid and well-built. The Hudl feels thicker, its rubbbery back panel feels a little like a built-in case. But that gives the impression of a more robust device.
The bezel around the screen on all three devices is thicker than we'd like, but that's what you get at this price.
This virtually identical design means both the Kindle Fire HD and Kindle Fire HD 8.9 sport similar ports, features and buttons in similar places. With either device look on the bottom edge for micro-USB and micro-HDMI ports, and find the headphone jack sitting near the top. The Hudl's micro-USB sits in the middle of the bottom (in landscape mode). The micro-HDMI can be found top left, however. A memory-card expansion slot can be found on the righthand side, and the 3.5mm jack sits on the top righthand corner.
The Kindle Fire tablets have two speakers seated to the left and the right on the rear of the tablet, and the webcam is situated centrally above the screen. You get a similar setup with the Hudl. It does seem odd for an entertainment device to have rear-facing speakers, but these tablets are hardly alone in that respect.
A range of accessories for the Hudl includes cases from £15, cables and headphones. Some of which are designed for kids. By now the Kindle Fire HD tablets are also blessed with good third-party support. See also: What's the best Android tablet of 2013?
Tesco Hudl vs Kindle Fire HD: Software
The winner here depends on your personal tastes and requirements.
Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean is almost vanilla in the Hudl but Tesco had added a few of its own bits and pieces. Preloaded widgets give first time users a helping hand and other things like Clubcard status at a glance. These can, of course be removed if they are of no use to you.
Alongside the regular android navigation buttons, there is a T button which is a shortcut to the supermarket's services including Blinkbox and Clubcard TV.They are both streaming services but Blinkbox offers up to date content to buy or rent, while Clubcard TV allows free but fewer and older content.
To go with these is a micro-HDMI port to get those films and TV shows on to your TV. Importantly there is full access to Google Play Store which means the Hudl has one up on the Amazon Kindle Fire range of budget tablets.
The Kindle Fire HD tablets are very different. Although strictly speaking based on Android, the platform is very much Amazon's own. These are entertainment devices for people who don't want or need the freedom of a plain Android device: the people who don't demand the latest Android apps or to be able to buy content from wherever they like. Amazon is hoping to make its money from you via your purchases of media and apps. That does mean, of course, that the lifetime cost of a well used Kindle Fire will be alot more than what you pay to purchase it in the first place.
If you want to be able to access Android apps and Google Play media, the Hudl has to be your choice. But the Kindle Fire HD tablets offer easy access to Amazon's unrivalled media catalogue.
Tesco Hudl vs Kindle Fire HD: verdict
The Hudl is a great little full-Android tablet, with a decent display and offering solid performance at a brilliant price. The Kindle Fire HD tablets can match the price and, in the case of the 8.9in device at least, offer a better display. But remember that a 7in tablet is much better for reading and watching videos on the move. Performance is marginally down for the Kindles, and they don't offer access to full Google Play apps and media. But if you can stand to miss out on choice, you get a better curated media experience courtesy of Amazon's amazing stockpile of books, video and music. Choose any of these tablets and you won't be disappointed: just choose the right one for you. See also: The 10 best tablets of 2013.