Tesco Hudl 2, Part 1: the in-store experience

As a digital inclusion professional, I have been fascinated with the Tesco Hudl since the launch of the original in 2013. Its affordability puts it within reach of many groups for whom digital inclusion might be a problem. The Hudl 2 was launched recently and with the build up to Christmas and present hunting I couldn’t wait to try it.

I love the idea of digital inclusion as a whole, not just how it relates to disability. In its broader sense, digital inclusion is about overcoming barriers to getting people online. These barriers may include:

  • Connection issues in rural areas
  • Initial purchase cost
  • Cost of monthly broadband contract
  • Lack of digital knowledge/skills/age
  • …and of course, disabilities

The Hudl is well placed to reduce the initial purchase cost, especially when you consider that it can be bought for half-price if you take advantage of Tesco’s Clubcard boost deals.

But I also wanted to know if this budget tablet can help tackle the issue of accessibility as well as the cost barriers, or does a cheap tablet mean reduced accessibility?

Screenshot: the Hudl2 Accessibility menu

The Tesco Hudl2 doesn’t automatically come with accessibility features enabled or as the first stage of set up, so you cannot take this out the box and play straight away if you rely on the accessibility features, without someone setting this up for you. I did however call David from Tesco’s tech support team who I must say was absolutely fantastic. I told him I wanted to buy a Hudl2 for my blind Dad but didn’t live near him – could they set this up in store for him? After popping me on hold for 10 minutes David came back and said he’d done a full factory reset to see if the accessibility features were part of the set up. However, because they weren’t, David’s advice would be to order and collect from a Tesco store with a tech support team. They could set the Hudl2 in-store on the Tesco WiFi, to then turn on the accessibility features, allowing a blind user to then go home and add their own WiFi connection. The Tesco store must have a WiFi connection though, as you can’t complete the set up without WiFi. So whilst this isn’t out of the box accessible – the customer support and advice was spot on.

The problem was, once in the store, the staff had no idea how to help with my request. I said I needed to post this to someone who was blind and so needed them to activate the speech technology. The first lady who served me was unsure how to do this but promised to find someone who did. Sadly the second person came along and refused to set up the Hudl2 saying it needed charging first, but assured me it’s simple and anyone can set it up. I asked a few times if that included someone who is blind by themselves, and was told yes it’s simple and easy, and if you get stuck to phone the tech support number. This I found disappointing, not just because I knew this was untrue, but also because something is only ‘easy’ and ‘simple’ when you know how. If I ask for help I expect it, not to be told it’s easy and to phone someone if I get stuck. Now, this was just one Tesco store, but I’d be intrigued to know if anyone else has had these kind of dismissive comments? Once I got my Hudl2 out the box at home, it did already have some charge in it, so she should have been able to set it up.

Tesco's Hudl2