Review: Dell Venue 7 and Venue 8, Android tablets with Intel inside

Review: Dell Venue 7 and Venue 8, Android tablets with Intel inside

Summary: There are lots of Android tablets to choose from, ranging from the inexpensive to big bucks. These two tablets from Dell are light on the wallet and have a unique feature.

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  •  Dell Venue 7 and Venue 8 — Intel inside

    The Venue 7 and Venue 8 tablets from Dell are downright cheap and good options for those wanting decent tablets at a reasonable price. They are basically the same except for the screens. The Venue 7 has a 7-inch display running at 1,280 x 800 and the Venue 8 an 8-inch display at 1,920 x 1,200.

    Both tablets ship with Android 4.4 (KitKat).

    What sets the two Dell tablets apart from the huge Android crowd is the Intel Atom processors inside. Almost all other Android tablets have some type of ARM processor, so this is a departure from the standard. It may be responsible for some quirks experienced while using both Venue tablets.

    Hardware as reviewed:

      Dell Venue 7 Dell Venue 8
    Processor Intel Atom Z3460 dual-core Intel Atom Z3480 dual-core
    OS Android 4.4 (KitKat) Android 4.4 (KitKat)
    Memory 1GB 1GB
    Storage 16GB 16GB
    Display 7-inch, 1,280 x 800, IPS 8-inch, 1,920 x 1,200, IPS
    Cameras Front: 1MP, Rear: 5MP Front: 2MP, Rear: 5MP
    Connectivity Wi-fi ac; Bluetooth 4.0 Wi-fi ac; Bluetooth 4.0
    Ports microUSB 2.0, audio in/out, microSD microUSB 2.0, audio in/out, microSD
    Battery 17.29 Whr, 4,550 mAh, 10 W adapter 17.29 Whr, 4,550 mAh, 10 W adapter
    Dimensions 193 x 118 x 8.95 mm; 7.59 x 4.64 x 0.35 inches 216 x 130 x 8.95 mm; 8.50 x 5.11 x 0.35 inches
    Weight 290 g; 0.64 lb 338 g; 0.74 lb

    Both Venue tablets are thin and light and well constructed. The casing has a swirled pattern on the back, making the tablets feel secure in the hand. The displays are IPS and have good viewing angles, important for a tablet.

    The Venue 8 has a slightly faster Intel Atom processor, higher resolution display, and better webcam (2MP vs. 1MP)  than the Venue 7.

    Enter the Atom

    Setting up the Venue 7 and Venue 8 was different than every other Android tablet I’ve used, no doubt due to the Atom processors. None of the preinstalled Google apps would run out of the box with the exception of the Chrome browser, and that was so bad it was unusable.

    It turns out that as shipped, both Venue tablets needed an update to Google Play Services before anything would work correctly. I’ve never seen this before as on ARM tablets as this is part of the ROM image for Android. Apparently that’s not the case with Android for the Atom processor.

    I had to manually update Play Services, and then discovered that 22 apps on each tablet needed to be updated. These were all the Google apps that make up Android. Once all the updates were installed on each tablet, everything ran fine with one exception I’ll describe later in the review.

    Typically, Android tablets have one good thing going for them — you can get right to work when you take them out of the box. That’s because the OS is preinstalled in ROM and fully operational as shipped.

    This unique out-of-box experience (OOBE) with the Venue tablets spoiled the startup process. It took over 30 minutes to update the Google Play Services and then all the various Google Android apps. It was reminiscent of the Windows OOBE, and that was not good at all.

    As mentioned, the tablets worked fine once updated, except for the Chrome browser. On both the Venue 7 and Venue 8 I have sporadic screen flashing on some web sites. They do this while the page is loading, flashing between proper display and black screen. This is happening on both tablets so it’s not bad hardware. It’s possibly related to the one WebGL crash I’ve experienced. I’ve never seen this on ARM-based Android tablets, so I’m pretty sure it’s the integrated Intel graphics with the Atom.

    Tablets run very well with an ARM processor inside, so I’m not sure using an Atom processor has any advantage. That’s certainly the case with the weird things I’ve experienced with both of the Venue tablets.

    The Atom performs reasonably well in the Dell tablets. Things run smoothly, with an occasional lag. By comparison, both my Kindle Fire HDX tablets run faster and more smoothly than the Dells. The Kindles are more expensive, so it may be a worthwhile tradeoff for the value of the Venue tablets.

    Quirks aside, I find both Venue tablets to offer decent value. The Dell Venue 7 is only $159 and the Venue 8 $199. They are both decent performers so these prices are reasonable.

    The Duo Case

    Both Venue tablets have a case option from Dell that adds protection from impacts. The Duo Case covers the back of the tablet, and also provides a rubber bumper for the sides. The screen is left exposed, something I would prefer wasn't the case.

    It would have been better to also put a cover on the front of the case to protect the glass display. This would have allowed for the use of smart cover technology to turn the tablet on and off. Without it, you must manually turn the tablet off before putting it in the bag or pocket.

    The Duo Case is a $29.99 option from Dell.

    Pros:

    • Reasonably priced
    • Solid construction
    • Good displays

    Cons:

    • Intel Atom processor creates some problems out of the box
    • Chrome browser exhibits strange graphical flashing

    Reviewer’s rating: 6 out of 10 (both tablets)

    The Dell Venue 7 and Venue 8 are similar with only minor hardware differences. They run as expected once the Android updates are installed out of the box. Other than the strange display flashing in the Chrome browser, everything works as expected with the Atom processor.

    There are occasional stutters in performance, but these are not a deal killer. It is reminiscent of Android tablets in the early stages. It feels like Google needs to do some additional work on Android for Intel hardware.

    See also:

  • Dell Venue 8 and Venue 7 backs

  • Dell Venue 7 

    The Venue 7 fits comfortably in the hand.

Topics: Mobility, Android, Dell, Reviews, Tablets

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10 comments
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  • 7/8 experience

    I bought one of these last year because I thought it was a nice device to carry around (and it was cheap). Problem is that 7/8 inch is still too small for me. I am constantly pinch and zooming pictures and websites, just like I do on a smart phone. Then I got a 10 inch Surface and I liked it a lot better. Surface seems like just the right size for tablet computing and casual use.
    Sean Foley
  • Bay Trail

    ASUS has also released a couple of Android tablets running on Intel processors, including the latest 7" Memo pad tablet. It's getting very good reviews. I've been very impressed with the performance of my Dell Venue hybrid, and the Bay Trail processor it runs under. My biggest concern with an Android tablet running Bay Trail insides would be application compatibility. I'd love to get my hands on one of these and run it through its paces for a week and see how it runs my able of apps. The new Memo pad 7, especially, has a very attractive size, and a price that's hard to beat.
    dsf3g
  • Why not a bit cheaper?

    The Windows version of this tablet has more disk and a quad core processor with the same price, it's true that the display is not as good, but assuming Dell is paying for windows license I think they could do a little bit better.
    AleMartin
    • Am I missing something?

      na
      AleMartin
    • Why pay more for less?

      Dell Venue 8 pro is a solid Windows 8.1 tablet. Amazon sells it for $195. Combined with the soon to be released charging dock from Plugable, it can be turned into a full lightweight desktop PC with no battery life limitations. No silly Yosemite continuity handoff whatchamacallit stuff needed: plug in a single cable from the dock and continue to work with full screen, mouse and keyboard while the tablet charges.
      Earthling2
  • Dell Venue 7 and Venue 8, Android

    Based on James' review, I wouldn't pursue either of these. The unit tested does not work out of the box without a lengthy upgrade. That will result in the return of many of these and the blame will be shouldered by Dell, a company that can do much better.

    Competition for Android tablets is crowded in a slack market. The Android Dell/Android image on these machines should appear flawlessly when the button is pressed for the first time. If it doesn't work without an online update, then the "good price" doesn't matter.

    We are enthusiasts for an industry that does this far too often to meet an arbitrary product release date. Perhaps never releasing the defective products in the first place is better for the tech companies than meeting deadlines.
    denwilgor
  • venue 8 as ereader

    Mr. Kendrick, would the venue 8 work as a ereader and occasional web surfing and emails? This is how I would use it.
    curiuos
  • I guess

    When they purchased parts, there was hope that they would make a Windows device, but unfortunately they had to make an Android one.
    gak@...
  • Bad phrasing?

    "Android tablets have one good thing going for them"?

    I would've thought more than "one"...
    lindsaytheflint
  • SIM CARD ISSUE in Dell Venue 8 tablet

    I bought venue7 last month and it was working fine except that the network from micro SIM card was not being detected. Eventually I contacted with Dell and got a new venue8 tablet. But here also network is not being detected. My SIM card is working well in my friend's Samsung tablet. Please tell me what to do...
    palas.1989