Tag Archives: Tesco

Hudl 2 camera walk.

I’m very lucky to have a lovely walk just outside of my door which allows me to test out the tablet and phone cameras in a picturesque and leafy setting.

The Hudl 1, let’s be honest, had a pretty dismal camera. I’ve read in a number of reviews that the camera on the Hudl 2 is a step up, but not necessarily a huge one… It’s not a deal breaker for me but I thought I’d pop out and give it a test drive anyhow.

First off.. The Android operating system has never been speedy for me when it comes to picture taking so I was a bit surprised when the pictures came out quite snappily (ho ho). The pictures are all at a pretty high resolution and pixel depth and, for the most part, I found very few mis-fires and blurred pictures (which has more often than not been the case for me with Android devices in the past).

The negative is that the images taken do seem to have a number of filters applied at source which I can’t seem to turn off or get rid of. Less good, that aspect is. I’ll keep looking for some toggle switches.

However the panorama and pano sphere settings are fab. I like them loads…

(as aways click on the image for a larger version. This one exported at a not small 6400 x 1000 pixel count).

…and then, at the end of the walk, there was a nice sit down so I could go through the pictures and chat with friends…

All in all? Far more impressed with the camera on the Hudl 2 than I had anticipated at all. It’s not a full on camera replacement of course (nor is it as good as some of the phone/cameras which boast far higher specs for far higher prices) but the best camera is the one  you have one you and, in this case, it’s not bad at all…

(Some of these pictures had a smidge of auto colour adjust applied in Snapseed. That said it was all still in tablet and, for the most part, was one or two simple filters applied… Nothing huge in terms of image editing).

Return of the Hudl.

A year ago I had just come back from Eurogamer. Following a breathless week of tablet and screen art in London’s Earl’s Court arena (ring a bell?) the following morning the Hudl 1 was released and I went to the local Tesco to buy 7 of the 12 they had in stock.

Sounds excessive? Well. I was about to start leading a young people’s tablet art workshop in the Lightbox, Woking, and I urgently needed more tablets. Buying Hudls was a risk but one I needed to take.

Turns out it wasn’t a risk or, if it was, it was one that paid off beautifully. The Hudl (first generation) is a fabulous machine and they’ve served me well since I bought them. A huge range of kids and adults have used the tablets in all sorts of venues and all seven of the machines have held up to the prodding and poking and general art duties with aplomb. And, more tellingly, if I’m heading out with some draw time but nothing planned the Hudl is more often than not the tablet I pick up first.

Fast forward the clock to today which (sort of) saw the launch of the Hudl 2.

I’d phoned my local store and was told that all colours would be in stock (they weren’t. Some were web only. More on that later). I was also told they’d be on sale at 8am. Which is when my son’s school bus leaves so, logistically, the earliest I could get there was 9.30 am. I was slightly nervous that the one I wanted most (the orange Hudl) would be gone by the time I arrived.

As it was I needn’t have worried. Not because the Guildford Tesco megastore had orange ones in stock, but all of their stock was still locked in a cupboard behind the Customer services desk. Twenty boxes of black or white bezel Hudl 2s sat, blissfully hidden from the customers who might want to buy one.

Bearing in mind it was the highly trumpted launch day: a little perplexing. Thinking back on it that’s almost exactly what happened last year.

Unlike last year I had two choices of colour frame and I bought the white one (which I find keeps the eyes on the artwork when you’re making pictures on a screen. Black allows your eyes to drift out on occasion). Which is a vague shame (I also bought a slightly off orange stylus to soften the blow) but I was very keen to spend the day drawing on it so it was a trade off. They had no screen protectors or cases so onwards it was (I was in London drawing at Shake Shack today 🙂 Yum and fun).

Regardless. Review time!

First off. A tiny thing but the box is slightly less good than last time. Silly I know but I thought the packaging for the Hudl 1 was excellent and this time it’s merely very, very good. I like the box, but last years felt just that little bit more like the box of a premier league product. The front flap was attached by magnets and lifted away in a beautifully clean fashion, the cardboard was thick and covered fully in glossy pack shot images.

It was probably a complete pain to make so I can imagine why it might have been simplified this time…

Secondly the screen comes with a matte screen protector/menu to the buttons around the screen. For a split second I thought that they had gone with a matte screen finish (not my favourite) but, again, not a worry. Once the sticker was removed there lay the glossy, glassy goodness, all waiting to be drawn on.

After a short while of inputting email addresses, choosing wifi, updating apps and so on I was ready to go. The setup was pretty smooth and painless and took, roughly, 1.25 coffees.


And then, all of a sudden, I was off 🙂 The remains of the coffee was drained and I was heading towards a train to London, ready to draw.


The first pic was painted in Sketchbook Pro by Autodesk using a Dagi 501 stylus and a Pogo Sketch Pro, both of which worked beautifully on the screen. I’d first tried my go-to fabric stylus (the New Trent Arcadia) which inexplicably didn’t work. This, I think, is a first… That stylus has worked on every screen I’ve ever tried it on. I’ll carry on test driving styli on the screen soon and come back with a report on what does and doesn’t work but, for the moment, the rubber tip (Pogo Sketch Pro, Wacom Bamboo, eBay styli) and the plastic tips (Dagi 501, Jot Classic) work well.

I painted a couple of pictures in Adobe Photoshop (but I can’t share them yet, they’ll be done for next week though) and had a lot of fun while doing so. Photoshop’s a bit of a processor hog on a tablet and, as it does on nearly all tablets, it lagged a little when the brush was enlarged on a low opacity. But if the brush was full opacity I felt no speed problems and was happy enough using the app.

By 3.30pm I was needing to get the train back so I put the tablet away and headed for home. On the train I finished off the Marmite picture:


…and, once back in Guildford I sat on an almost stationary bus (the peril of living near one of the worst junctions in Surrey – hallo A3 turnoff) and drew this:

(both drawn in Autodesk Sketchbook Pro app).

Any other comments? Well after a full on six hours of drawing the battery had drained from 90% to just under 30% which is pretty good. Nothing pushes a tablet or phone as much as a tablet art session.

The screen ratio is somewhere between an inflated iPhone 5S/c, a Samsung Galaxy 8.9 and a Microsoft Surface 1 or 2 (if you’re looking for precise maths look away now. That ain’t me). It reminds me of the finish of a iPhone 5c, a Lumia phone or tablet – although the plastic is matte rather than glossy (whereas the original Hudl reminded me of a 3GS with it’s shiny plastic back and rounded edges). It feels like a premium device, not too heavy but good to hold. The power button is to the right of the volume controls which strained at the muscle memory all day when I expected the volume up and down to be the other way round. I’ll get used to it I’m sure. Interestingly the Hudl 2 is designed to be thought of as a portrait orientated device (whereas the original was landscape which is how I see most tablets). Again it’s not a problem… Bemusing maybe (I would have though the majority use a tablet in landscape orientation – yet phones are more often portrait).

WIth the original Hudl the camera was the negative and, having had a quick play around with this one I’d say that’s possibly still the case. It’s an improvement at least and it’s hard to tell what lets the side down: the hardware or Android which I’ve never found focuses quickly on any device I’ve used it on.

The viewing angle is extraordinary. I found it impossible to hold the screen at an angle where the picture wasn’t clear and precise. It may not be retina quality but I found my eyes couldn’t focus on the screen at a distance where I might see the pixels. The colours are a smidge over saturated although we’re certainly not talking anything like Samsung phone and tablet levels of Las Vegas style neon subtlety. I’ve yet to find a screen contrast option in Android but with luck there will be something I can tweak. It’s not massively off-putting though but I could imagine a purist finding it verging on the tail edge of gaudy.

I’ve never used Spotify (or similar streaming service) but, since it was there, I thought I’d test drive Blinkbox Music and it worked simply and well. I’ll probably keep using it I think. The box comes with a small clutch of vouchers which I’ll try and make use of this time (last time I forgot and they all went out of date on me).

I like the fact that Tesco are putting an emphasis on child safety and parental controls. As a growing number of increasingly younger kids are being given their own tablet it’s something that I appreciate the effort to implement. I’m not overly keen on small children being given tablets (it strikes me as something that can’t help long term eyesight for a start and I think there are many more age appropriate toys to grow up with) but it’s going to happen so the internet safety options are a valuable choice.

Anything else? Well. To put the boot in, just before I started to write this, I had a check up on the manual included in the box and all… ALL… of the images used to demonstrate the Hudl options and choices are the Orange Hudl option. So I think they knew it was the best colour too.

Grr.

But hey ho. It’s been a lovely day drawing and the Hudl 2 hasn’t disappointed. A fab tablet. Definitely recommended. A few websites have proclaimed it an excellent budget tablet but I think the ‘b’ word isn’t necessarily needed. It’s an excellent tablet (which also happens to be cheap).

What we done during Eurovision…

A few years ago wife and I were in a pub playing darts with a Swede and a Romanian. In the background was the Eurovision song contest, which was the first time I’d ever watched it.

Since then we always have, either with friends or relatives or just ourselves and the kids. Last night was fairly unusual (in as much as we’d not realised it was on until yesterday and hadn’t invited friends over) so we watched (to be honest half a dozen countries – including France which was my favourite – were robbed) and made things and ate and so on.

Wifey always makes a brilliant European picnic:

And this year she also made me a son to go with my Frog:

And I drew the acts as they happened:

All drawn on Hudl using Photoshop Touch and a New Trent Limir (or Arcadia can’t remember which one’s which) and a Nomad Compose. Hope you like. We enjoyed the evening, not always (in fact fairly rarely) for musical purposes 🙂

Mornin’ Drawin’: Talking Rubbish.

I often get asked where the ideas come from.

Basically everywhere and anywhere. The trick is to let them carry on running from something that starts off as an interesting idea to see where it gets to as an image, animation or so on. The only difference between me and anyone else who giggles about an object having a funny face on it is that I then scribble the idea onto a tablet and a certain amount of practise in doing so.

This mornin’*, for example, I was waiting for a bus as I generally don’t. Normally I walk into work but today I was carrying too much paperwork so I thought I’d take it easy on myself and it was only then, with 14 minutes of potential standing around time, that I noticed how much the wheelie bins looked like people, especially one nearby that had obviously had too much to eat.

So out came the trusty Hudl (which is probably my favourite tablet at the moment – fantastic little thing**) and I was scribbling away. 20 minutes later (sigh) the bus came and I’d drawn this. I didn’t have my styli on me (assuming that I’d only be doing paperwork today) but I did have a freebie pen with stylus tip in a pocket and that worked well enough, given the choice I had.

So. ArtFlow app? Any good? Well, for the money – certainly! It’s a corker at free (for a feature limited version) and less than £4 for the full on app. Apart for bang for buck value? The features are all there but the interface is a bit cludgey. There’s lots of travel around the screen to do anything and anything that you do do then obscures a good deal of the screen as you do so. So I’m not fully sold. But it’s powerful, simplified in places where it should be and probably in the top 3 art apps on Android as things stand.

And, of course, I’ve given you a title which is a gift if you want to add a comment… Talking Rubbish…? Well…

*Hence calling my pics as I get ready for work Mornin’ Drawin‘s*** as I try (and more often than I’d like fail****) to draw for 10 – 25 minutes before I get to work every day. Practise, practise, practise, for a start, but I also find it blows the cobwebs of the day before away in a pleasant manner…

**Admittedly the camera is a bit blah. This is partially down to the hardware and equally down to Android having a bit of a poor photo app imo. The rest of the Hudl is ace.

*** Which my iPhone repeatedly decides should be autocorrected as Mormon’ Darwin’. Grr.

**** I REALLY do need to start tagging things properly in Flickr for example.

When the Owliens invaded Woking…

For the past few months I’ve been rushing from one job to another, which has been busy and occasionally stressful but utterly lovely throughout. The culmination was everything that the weeks weren’t but not in any sort of a bad way at all.

Confusing? When is anything that I ever do not?

The initial brief was to spend 10 weeks teaching young people to draw on tablets. At the time I didn’t have a fleet of tablets to my name so that was the first problem to solve. The Tesco Hudl came up in the media and was launched a week before the first session started so that seemed the answer to that question (and so it was – the tablets have all performed brilliantly, the negative being that I could only afford to buy 7 and had a class bigger than that so a lot of creativity was made throughout to make each session run smoothly).

Anyhow: ten weeks of drawing on tablets? What could we do to fill that amount of time with 8 – 10 year olds?

In the end I cheated a little, but with a very specific purpose. In addition to the tablet artwork time we also had three weeks of shrink plastic artwork  (because of what came last and also I know it’s something that just always goes down well).

On the tablet side we drew pictures in Photoshop Touch and Sketchbook Pro, created panorama images (a little cheatily again as I couldn’t find a suitable app on Android so we used the excellent Autostitch on iPad) and face mangled pictures in a range of apps on Hudl including Liquidroid, Cymera and Photo Warp +.

And then, when it was week 9, I made a mini book diary/story of all the things we had done as detailed below.

The printed pages.

The pages folded into the component parts, numbered so I knew which ones to stick where…

Venues swapped the sticking process began…

All books stuck together…

A tower of mini books 🙂

Another view of the book tower 🙂 With a mix of artwork – tablet drawn robots and liquified faces…

The handheld library.

… and numbered just for the fun of it. I had the kids pick their book out of a hat so that they all received a random number.

And finally we had the last hurrah of the shrink plastic. Each young person created a front and back cover for their books:

The front covers.

The back covers 🙂

The last one I could picture… By this time the parents were waiting to come in and pick up their kids and the artwork to take home with them.

All in all it was a thoroughly lovely time in a brilliant venue (the Lightbox in Woking). More to come, I think, but this series was a lovely one to be a part of.

 

Collab Hudl pic.

So yesterday I took the students to London to do another fab Teentech show (more on that later) and, when back I sat down with one the staff members to talk through the day (and the year).

While doing so we both decided it’d be nice to sit and chill out and draw so I drew on his iPad Air and he drew on my Hudl. I drew the outlines, he did the colours and I shaded it in at the end.

(Hudl tablet, Autodesk Sketchbook app, Dagi, Nomad and New Trent styli in case you’re interested…)

Not bad for an hours winding down from an ultra busy day…

The astronaut is named after the lead singer of my favourite band – Five Iron Frenzy – ‘cos today is the release date of their new CD which means it’s going to be played LOUD all day.

It’s a bit of a remix of this image:

… which I did a while ago when I first bought my iPad 3 using ArtRage app. Took more than an hour though 🙂

Let’s Hudl again shall we?


So, let’s have a coffee break and chat on things Hudl related shall we?

First off – no favouritism and I haven’t been bought off*… I was starting up a youngsters tablet art class and needed 10 tablets. In the event the budget was limited and the max I could get was 7 Hudl’s, on launch day, at 7am after 5 days of 15 hour days for Eurogamer.

But, oh boy, they’re fab. I wasn’t expecting to like them as much as I do. The screen is very sound with good viewing angles and a lovely handling of colour and contrast (unlike some tablets I could point to which BURN YOUR EYES OUT WITH OVER-SATURATED COLOURS!!!)

Then there’s the physical size etc. The bezel is a good ratio although the screen is a little bit off the perfect golden ratio size of some other tablets. Once slapped inside (sorry, gently placed) a protective case it’s got a good feeling of solidity, weight and maturity – there’s very little in the way of rough edges and corners and my only complaint might be that the micro SD card slot is unprotected. Possibly the machine is a little heavy, maybe, but not overwhelmingly so and for the price by no means a brick either. To be honest I’ve drawn for an hour in a pub and on a bus with a Hudl and didn’t notice fatigue from the time spent holding it… It is a bit thicker than other tablets, a fraction, bearing a smidge of a reminder to the iPhone 3GS and the curved stylings more than, say, the squarer and blockier stylings of the Surface or iPhone 4/5 etc. It doesn’t have the beautiful stylings of the Lumias (and I am VERY interested in the 2520 as a device) but by the same token it isn’t in any way an ugly or old fashioned looking tablet. Why didn’t I choose a Kindle Fire HD instead? Well… To be honest that does feel like an older fashioned device to me – something about it feels unfriendly. Factor in the fact that, while the Hudl has a – at best functional – camera (whereas the Kindle Fire does not) and that the Hudl runs on stock Android to the Kindle’s Argos catalog OS it didn’t seem like a sensible trade off.

Regardless, as a tablet artist, it’s the screen and how it works with the styli that I’m most concerned about. Well, maybe processor speed versus art app functionality too. And in this case it’s, again, way up there. The normal test styli (the New Trent, Dagi, Pogo et al) all passed with flying colours and then I moved onto the bogey stylus for any tablet screen (and the curse of the worst): the Nomad Compose long hair stylus.

(photo taken using iPhone 4S and Olloclip).

Depending on the screen this stylus can jitter or intermittently lose connection (and thus become useless) and, to my surprise, there was none of the former and very little of the latter.

So, a perfect machine for a screen artist? Well, we’re still, in ways, at the infancy of the Android app store – I can only point to four or five stable art apps that I like on the platform and half a dozen others that do the business, just.

But the apps that it does run it runs very capably indeed. Photoshop Touch, Didlr, Sketchbook, Watercolor Pencil all fly on the system and are a joy to draw on and, again, I am coming at this from an unusual and specialist angle. I keep hearing good things about Blinkbox and all of the normal apps: Chrome, Youtube et al run as happily on the machine as they do on other tablets.

So, have had the tablets for a couple of weeks now, haven’t had that much time but still painted a few pics for the sheer joy of using the tablet with an art app:

Adobe Photoshop Touch.

Autodesk Sketchbook Pro.

Didlr app.

Autodesk Sketchbook Pro.

So. A good machine for buying to let kids play with with little worry? Seemingly so. I’ve let my students at college draw on mine:

and also let 8 years old draw on them…

… and in all cases it passed every test with flying colours. Must admit I’m both surprised and delighted. As Tesco have said this is the first in a series of devices from them, and it’s obviously a successful one as they’re been VERY hard to get hold of since release, I’m intrigued to see where they’ll go next.

*Flipping wish I had been bought off pre-this post and vaguley hope I would be in the next 24 hours! 🙂 I’m sitting down with 10 kids on Tues to do tablet artwork in a sci-fi art exhibition and have only 7 Hudl’s. Three will have to be on iPads and tbh that bugs me more than it should. Detracts from the group nature of what we’ll be doing. That said, until payday and the devices come back into stock I’m reliant on interest from others *cough*hint*cough* or have to work around it with a cludge.