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The Dell Venue 8 7000 Review - Intel and Android Perfected

Author: Ryan Shrout
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Dell

User Experience, Pricing, Closing Thoughts

Real-world User Experiences

I have shown you benchmark after benchmark, result after result. The Atom Z3580 is just not fast enough to win those types of battles as clearly both the Tegra K1 and the Apple A8/A8X SoCs are noticeably faster in these flagship tablets. But as usual, there is more to a device, especially a tablet or phone, than just benchmark scores.

What does the user experience feel like on the Dell Venue 8 7000?

Android 4.4.4 Stock

It should be noted first that the Dell Venue 8 7000 present a nearly stock Android experience with 4.4.4. That means little to no bloatware and a familiarity for any user coming from an Android background. There are some Dell applications preinstalled – Dell Cast for wireless displays, Dell Live Wallpaper, Maxx Audio, McAfee Security and a couple more. These are unobtrusive and I found only McAfee to really get under my skin (go figure).

EDIT: Dell did confirm that Android Lollipop (5.0) will be coming to the Venue 8 7000 but would only confirm to a time frame of "in the coming months."

Web Browsing

Surfing my way through the information super-highway on the Venue turned out to be a very pleasant and speedy experience, despite the fact that the tablet lost nearly every CPU-based benchmark we tossed its way. Chrome is responsive with 7+ tabs open at a time, and even the heaviest webpages in their desktop iteration work as intended. Sites like our own pcper.com, polygon.com and theverge.com are some of the first places we go to see how well the browser performs with lots of images and plenty of JS/CSS for it handle.

That 2560x1600 OLED screen is perfect for reading short news blurbs, looking at Facebook or even diving deeper into longer stories that require some concentration. I didn’t have any instances of eye strain or headache when reading on the Venue though an e-ink display like a Kindle is still going to be better for books.

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One of the defacto points of interest when working on a tablet is the smoothness of the interaction – does the website scroll smoothly? Can you easily page back and forth between tabs? All of that happens better than I have ever seen an Intel Android device behave, and in fact it would be easy to think you were on a flagship platform from any SoC vendor when using the Venue. I would see hitches in scrolling with lots of applications open in the background occasionally but in general, I found that the interface with the Venue was a positive as I’ve had with any Android device.

The single complaint I have about surfing with the device is that is seemed to stall a bit before switching from portrait to landscape mode. Not that the CPU was struggling, more like the accelerometer was not recognizing that you had shifted the device. A couple of taps on the back of the tablet with my finger fixed it immediately each time but clearly that’s not ideal.

Normal Application Usage

Besides the browser, using applications like Gmail, the calendar and Maps was clean and simple, again thanks to the native Android experience Dell is providing. The gallery application is pretty nice, organizing your media based on timelines, geolocations, associated contacts, etc. Depending on how much you want other software to organize that part of your life for you it could come in quite handy.

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Gaming

This is an interesting one as we have already proved the GPU in the Atom Z3580 does not match the raw performance of the Tegra K1 or even the Apple tablets we have on hand. I installed and played 5-6 Android games that range from Minion Rush to Goat Simulator. All of them were able to play and all of them seemed to run just fine on the Venue 8 7000. That does not mean there is no performance delta though – we measure frame rates in a popular shooter called Modern Combat 5 at 24 FPS on average for the Venue and 29 FPS on average for the SHIELD Tablet. Frame rates in Goat Simulator both hovered around the 40-43 FPS mark on average.

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(More on exactly how we are measuring this soon.)

Of course I played some Clash of Clans and even got in some time with WGT Golf Mobile, all in the name of science. These played perfect well too and I think that you’ll find the Dell tablet more than capable of the majority of Android titles out there.

What is going to be more interesting in the coming weeks is measure real-world game play time on these devices with a host of different gaming titles. I think we’ll all learn soon that the battery life tests for gaming that we (and others) run is less accurate than expected.

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For those of you that consider yourselves enthusiast Android gamers, or PC enthusiasts that are interested in technologies and features like PC to Android game streaming and OpenGL based Tegra exclusive titles, the NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet is clearly the better choice. But for casual gaming on the go the Dell Venue 8 7000 performed admirably.

Watching Video and Movies

One area this Dell Venue 8 7000 excelled was in watching video and movies. Take a flick like Gravity that Google recently gave away on the Play store – taking place in space is a perfect backdrop for demonstrating the beauty of the OLED 2560x1600 display. The space scenes showed a near HDR quality between the blackness of space and the brightness of Earth and everyone at the office was blown away. Considering this is was a streaming copy of the movie the feat is even more impressive.

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Even watching YouTube videos of from our PC Perspective YouTube channel or our favorite Taylor Swift music videos looked fantastic with the extended color range of the display. I downloaded a couple of episodes of The Walking Dead – again, amazingly impressed by the quality of the display.

The one caveat is the speaker on the tablet – it’s decent for a mono speaker in a 6mm thin device but there are limits that physics won’t let you break. So while I would agree to let you watch our podcast with the tablet speaker, watching a movie of TV episode should be done with a quality set of headphones.

Camera

There has to be one negative, doesn’t there? I won’t dwell on it anymore as I think I got the point across on the camera-specific page, but the usability of the camera is in question. This is partly due to the placement of the camera lenses and partly due to quality of the resulting image even when you do get your hand out of the way.

Pricing and Availability

The Dell Venue 8 7000 is currently available and selling over at your local Best Buy stores or on Bestbuy.com for $399 (EDIT: Actually as I write this it’s on sale for just $369!). How does that compare to our other tablets in this review?

Tablet Flash Memory Price
Dell Venue 8 7000 16GB $399
NVIDIA SHIELD Tablet 16GB $299
  32GB / LTE $399
Google Nexus 9 16GB $349
  32GB $429
Apple iPad Air 2 16GB $440
  64GB $590
  128GB $645
Apple iPad Mini 3 16GB $359
  64GB $484
  128GB $565

Dell and Intel cannot claim that the Venue 8 7000 is a budget tablet with a price tag that is $100 higher than NVIDIA’s SHIELD Tablet and $50 more than the Nexus 9. Only the iPad Air 2 16GB model is priced higher and thanks to recently price cuts all over the place on iPads, it only has a $40-50 markup.

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There are going to be two camps reading the review at this point. The group that looks at the benchmarks and points a finger at loss after loss claims that Intel is attempting to overcharge for an underperforming product. Another faction will look at battery life, the quality of the screen and the sex-appeal of the design and then shrug at the “good enough” performance metrics.

Based on my experience with the Venue 8 7000, not just on the many graphs of test results, I definitely can understand and appreciate why Dell would position this as the flagship Android tablet.

Final Thoughts

Given the choice of buying one of these four tablets discussed in this review, the Dell Venue 8 7000 stands at the top of my list. I can’t claim to have looked at every high-end Android tablet on the market so I cannot claim definitively that this is the best Android tablet, but I am leaning in that direction. Anyone or any company that wants to prove me wrong: I’m open to it.

A product was built that very few in the industry thought could exist: a sleek and attractive Android tablet that is thin and light, easy to use with features that are class leading. And it’s from Dell. And Intel.

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The 2560x1600 OLED 8.4-in screen is easily my favorite part of the device, and anyone that gets a chance to see it in person will definitely agree. A bar has been set. If I could remove or change one part of the Venue it would be the camera – the design and placement is poor and the depth technology is interesting but seems incomplete and gimmicky for now. If $50 might have been shaved off of the MSRP without it I think both Dell and Intel would have been better off.

We have yet to come across a piece of technology we would consider truly perfect. But the Dell Venue 8 7000 is absolutely closer than I would have expected.

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Video News


February 18, 2015 | 07:29 PM - Posted by AMDBumLover (not verified)

I don't know about perfected, MKBHD gave it a lukewarm review.

February 18, 2015 | 07:59 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

That's why we are allowed to have more than one review of a product. :)

February 18, 2015 | 08:01 PM - Posted by Pixy Misa (not verified)

Look 'em right in the eye, say "Flagship? 16GB?" and make them eat the damn thing.

I'll take a look when if and when they ship a 32GB model, but they should never have shipped a 16GB model.

February 18, 2015 | 08:22 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

I don't really disagree, but all flagship tablets at least come in a 16GB variety.

February 19, 2015 | 12:52 AM - Posted by Pixy Misa (not verified)

Yeah, I know. It's just so annoying. Fabulous screen, fast CPU, plenty of RAM, decent battery life, everything is good...

And then the same 16GB of storage as we had in 2012.

February 19, 2015 | 11:28 AM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

Kind of agree there. Does the SD card slot not alleviate this?

February 19, 2015 | 07:31 PM - Posted by Pixy Misa (not verified)

To a degree.

The problem is, Android 4.4's support for removable storage is... Not great. I have an Xperia Z Ultra with 16GB internal and a 128GB Sandisk micro SD card.

The SD card is brilliant. I have a ton of music on there, all the recent episodes from podcasts I follow (including yours, of course!), and a nice collection of audiobooks.

But my apps have to live on the internal storage. So do all my Kindle books.

I've been very selective about which apps I install, but I'm down to about 3GB of space on the internal storage. I have 50GB free on the SD card, but I can't use it for that.

Android 5.0 might be better with SD cards, but I only have it on my Nexus 7 so far, so I can't test that.

Given that we're talking about a $400 device, and the price difference between 16GB and 32GB of decent quality Flash storage is $10 retail - and that it would more than double available space because at least 4GB is used by the OS and restore volumes - this ongoing insistence on providing inadequate storage even on flagship devices is really starting to piss me off.

February 20, 2015 | 08:35 AM - Posted by BBMan (not verified)

Good point. I've lived that too. And considering that they can put 512GB on a micro SDs and M2s, there is little reason why they can't build that much into these.

Also, considering that this is a recent "flagship" release I'm assuming that the MicroSDs supported are UHS-IIs. I think SDIO may cover the whole lot.

February 19, 2015 | 01:04 AM - Posted by SEBO (not verified)

its a pretty steap price for a tab without lte, only 16 gb onboard storage and a unpractical design. i use my tab only in landscape mode and the single bezel on this tab looks unhandy.


the only plus on this tab is the screen.


but lets talk about the most disappointing part of this tablet. it comes with an outdated version (4.4) of android.


the bottom line for me is:


-expensive
-outdatet software
-lack of featuers
-no ergonomic way to use it




for the same price, you can get a nvidia shield with lte, 32 gb storage, more gpu power, up to date android 5.0.1, a bezel on all sides to get a grip, faster charging times, yes the dell loads rly slow! only the screen on the shield is not so fancy.


so, no.


wont buy. 400 for only a nice screen is too much dell.

February 19, 2015 | 01:21 AM - Posted by SEBO (not verified)

you can get for around 230 an memo pad from asus http://www.asus.com/Tablets/ASUS_MeMO_Pad_7_ME572CL/specifications/ also has lte and most of the stuff you need, well not such a fancy screen, also an outdatet android, probably a bit slower in performance and so on.


also the Lenovo Tab S8-50L LTE http://shop.lenovo.com/gb/en/tablets/lenovo/s-series/s8/#tab-features way less expensive and comes with an lte modul for about 230.


so, a fancy screen costs 170 bucks?


i cant rly understand the excitement.

February 19, 2015 | 11:30 AM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

In many cases, a tablet and phone is more about the experience and build quality than specs. Still, I am trying to get these tablets in currently! Thanks for the heads up!

February 19, 2015 | 01:58 AM - Posted by Kingofkats

Great review Ryan, and yet another example of why I always check PCPER before buying a piece of tech. Was there any indication that we might expect an LTE variant? With LTE, 32GB and a 256GB SD, this could contend with laptops!

February 19, 2015 | 11:31 AM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

LTE hasn't been mentioned at all yet.

February 19, 2015 | 08:25 AM - Posted by BBMan (not verified)

Also wondering what class of MicroSD is supported.

February 19, 2015 | 11:32 AM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

Oh, sorry!

SD, SDHC, SDXC, supporting up to 512GB

February 19, 2015 | 08:26 AM - Posted by paul bluebeard (not verified)

Good review Ryan . thanks

Say what you will re price and deficiencies and lollipop delay.

I am using this tablet and the screen is as good or better than the rest

No regret

Paul

February 19, 2015 | 08:44 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I swear that when they unveiled this device at IDF last fall, it was using Cherry Trail, not Bay Trail... hmm...

February 19, 2015 | 10:13 AM - Posted by Shambles (not verified)

16GB of storage?

whatyearisthis.jpg

February 19, 2015 | 11:34 AM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

:D

Almost all tablets start 16GB honestly though. I would agree Dell needs more options.

February 19, 2015 | 11:34 AM - Posted by RenderB (not verified)

Shame you didn't take the 8" galaxy tab s along in this compassion. Half curious if it uses the same panel.

February 19, 2015 | 11:38 AM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

Totally agree there. Hopefully Samsung will be willing to send us one to compare!

February 19, 2015 | 01:31 PM - Posted by Geoff Peterson (not verified)

Do you know who supplies the OLED screen? Was it Samsung? The Samsung Tab S are also OLED and have been reviewed as having the best display out of the tablets currently available. The other internals are a bit more dated however.

February 19, 2015 | 05:46 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I believe another review mentioned it's probably the identical screen as what is found in the Samsung.

February 19, 2015 | 05:46 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I believe another review mentioned it's probably the identical screen as what is found in the Samsung.

February 19, 2015 | 12:18 PM - Posted by VintageDon (not verified)

This review was almost enough to get me to purchase this since I'm looking for a new small tablet for my wife after her Memo Pad 7 gave out (just stopped charging), but the Amazon reviews for this are horrible. Great review though ... thanks!

February 19, 2015 | 01:06 PM - Posted by Ryan Shrout

Amazon doesn't sell this tablet, so I don't know what reviews you were looking at...

February 20, 2015 | 12:41 PM - Posted by Kanati (not verified)

Purchased this last night based on your review.

I've had probably a dozen different tablets over the years starting with the first Tegra 2 tablet that I could find (Viewsonic G-Tab) which had the most horrible screen on any device I've ever seen.

This one, by contrast, has the best screen I've seen on any device. The 3D cameras are uncalibrated out of the box and aren't all that accurate for the 3D functions, but the software assures me it will get better as I take more photos. It's not the fastest tablet I've used I don't think, especially in the GPU department, but it's more than adequate. The build quality is as good as any other I've had and better than most. Only the ASUS 10" tabs come close in comparison to ones I've owned.

What it does well, it does VERY well. What it doesn't, it does well enough to make me believe it'll keep the top spot on my tablet list for a while.

February 21, 2015 | 06:17 AM - Posted by drbaltazar (not verified)

Going from android 4.4.4 to android 5 is a huge upgrade performance wise.I own a nexus 4 and it shouldn't go up so much in performance usually but google has been fine tuning a lot on. The performance side

February 22, 2015 | 02:26 PM - Posted by ZircoBen (not verified)

I felt this thing at Best Buy, and it is absolutely fantastic to hold. Very thin and it feels like a piece of metal.

My only disappointment is KitKat rather than Lollipop, but I understand the optimizations that must happen. After using Lollipop on my phone now since it was released, KitKat feels like something of an eyesore.

Great review Ryan!

April 10, 2015 | 07:19 PM - Posted by cathy (not verified)

32G came out this week. I am looking forward to mine arriving :)

May 2, 2015 | 11:48 AM - Posted by Cathy (not verified)

Having used the 32G version now for several weeks I can say I really really am liking this tablet. Gorgeous screen..it took a couple days to get used to the button location on the left side, but I am fine with them now. Very responsive. I would like to see lollipop soon, but it's easily my favorite tablet.

April 18, 2015 | 11:16 AM - Posted by Eric (not verified)

Anyone know if the Venue 8 7840 is fitted with Gorilla Glass? Or anything similar to prevent scratches and breaks?

February 3, 2016 | 08:01 AM - Posted by Tseg (not verified)

The tablet scene seems a bit quiet lately outside launches of some larger 'Pro' models. I guess tablet sales are a bit soft globally. My 2011 iPad 2 was gimping too badly so I just bought this Dell Venue 8 7000 32GB. Great price discounts are had on it now that it is a year old and it now comes with Lollipop 5.02 that immediately upgrades to 5.1. I would expect an Android 6.0 Marshmallow upgrade over the next 3 months.

Having owned a tablet for years I'm somewhat past the experimentation thing with a gazzillion apps and games and quest for the ultimate specs. I now am more a user of the core types of apps someone uses with a tablet. As a result, my main goals in a tablet are great screen display/readability, snappy and fluid transitions, smooth browsing/reading, smooth video streaming, excellent build quality, excellent battery life, excellent physical usability and overall visual coherence.

This tablet really nails it on most dimensions I'm looking for. As someone else mentioned, where it misses dead center, its definitely good enough. The revue above does a good job of capturing the nuances. I'm sure over time Google will make the Android OS more complex, forcing hardware end-of-life... but for me, Lollipop + Venue 8 addresses all my needs in a tablet already. Marshmallow, if/when it arrives to the V8, will only further improve the SD card functionality in this device. I'm hopeful Dell WON'T keep forcing OS upgrades to this device, making it gimpy, like Apple did to my iPad 2.

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