Dell’s Venue 8 7000 tablet is the first device to feature Intel’s RealSense Snapshot camera, which uses depth perception to let you refocus after a shot or measure objects you’ve photographed. However, this 8.4-inch slate has a lot more going for it than just a fancy camera, with its sleek, ultra-slim aluminum chassis, long battery life and the most colorful screen we’ve ever seen on a tablet. However, at $399, this top-tier tablet doesn’t come cheap and faces stiff competition from the likes of Apple, Amazon and Samsung. Is the Venue 8 7000 worth your money?
The Dell Venue 8 7000 looks every bit the premium tablet, with a gunmetal-gray aluminum, super-svelte chassis that measures just 0.26 inches thin. That’s even thinner than the iPad mini (0.28 inches). The slate also looks better from the front than does Apple’s, thanks to an edge-to-edge “infinity” display surrounded by a miniscule bezel. The speaker bar and 2-MP webcam add about three-quarters of an inch of space below the screen, but their tiny audio holes and rounded lens add a dash of high-tech flair to the design.
The back houses three cameras: two 720p depth sensors, which appear in a single black stripe, and a regular 8-MP lens. The right side has a covered microSD card slot, which you can use to expand the measly internal 16GB of storage.
Though the volume rocker and power buttons look attractive in gunmetal gray, Dell made the odd choice of placing them on the left side, the opposite of most small tablets and phones. I found it awkward to power on with my left thumb instead of my pointing finger, but the Dell also wakes from sleep when you lift it up, thanks to a feature called Intel Sensing Assist. While Sensing Assist was convenient, it also had a tendency to wake my tablet while it was rattling around in my backpack. Fortunately, it’s easy enough to disable this feature via a checkbox in the Display settings submenu.
At 8.5 x 4.88 x 0.24 inches and 10.72 ounces, the Venue 8 7000 is significantly lighter than the Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 (9.1 x 6.2 x 0.3 inches, 13.2 ounces), the Google Nexus 9 (7.87 x 5.3 x 0.29 inches, 14.99 ounces) and the iPad mini 3 (7.87 x 5.3 x 0.29 inches, 12 ounces). However, Apple’s tablet is smaller due to its 7.9-inch screen. The Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 is slightly smaller and lighter (8.5 x 4.88 x 0.24 inches)
The Venue 8 7000’s 8.4-inch, 2560 x 1600 OLED display is one of the most vibrant I’ve ever seen. Colors like the green in trees and blue in the sky in one of the default wallpapers were deep and immersive. When I was watching the Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer, the red in Iron Man’s suit and the green in the Hulk’s skin were so rich and deep that I felt like I was viewing a glossy magazine. A 4K video of jellyfish swimming in the ocean appeared both colorful and extremely sharp, thanks to the display’s 361 pixels per inch.
One reason the images look so impressive is that, according to our colorimeter, the panel can display more colors than most tablets, covering 173.3 percent of the sRGB gamut. That’s more than double the tablet category average of 82 percent, and it blows away the Google Nexus 9 (102 percent) and the iPad mini 3, which covers a mere 67 percent. The Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 comes close to the Dell, reaching 161 percent of the gamut.
In terms of color accuracy, the Dell Venue 8 7000 achieved a Delta E rating of 4.2 (lower is better). This is much better than the category average of 6.
Because of its rich colors and high contrast-ratio (10,000:1, according to Dell), the Venue 8 7000 appeared bright to me during indoor use, and acceptable outdoors on an overcast day. However, I had a tougher time viewing the screen in direct sunlight; the preview window for the camera was difficult to make out.
Dell rates the screen for 300 nits of brightness, but despite repeated tests, the display measured a modest 235 nits on our light meter. Either number is below the tablet category average of 351. The Galaxy Tab S 8.4 inch, which also has fantastic color, clocks in at 321 nits, while the Google Nexus 9 (367 nits), iPad mini 3 (383 nits) and Amazon Fire HDX 8.9 (383 nits) all scored even higher.
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Unfortunately, the Venue 8 7000’s audio output doesn’t match its video quality, with the drum section on most songs sounding very tinny. I tested the speakers over a range of songs — Patrice Rushen’s bass-heavy “Forget Me Nots,” Motley Crue’s guitar-and-drum-laden “Shout at the Devil,” Rose Royce’s funky “Car Wash” and Joe Sample’s jazzy “Carmel” — and percussion was harsh and unpleasant on all of them, though vocals and other instruments sounded accurate.
The speakers are certainly loud enough to fill a living room, achieving an ear-crushing maximum volume of 90 decibels on the Laptop Mag audio test, significantly higher than the category average (80.5 dB) as well as the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 (78 dB) and Google Nexus 9 (82 dB).
Dell includes its Waves Maxx audio software that lets you adjust the bass, treble and other controls. The music definitely sounded richer with this feature enabled, but none of the profiles made the drums sound much better.
The Dell Venue 8 7000 is the first device to come with Intel’s RealSense Snapshot camera. The camera combines a regular 8-MP sensor with 720p sensors to detect depth in images. Using this technology and Dell’s unique image-editing software, you can measure objects in photos down to a tenth of an inch, change the focal point of a picture after you shoot, or apply filters to the background or foreground while leaving the rest of a scene untouched.
When taking a photo, you have the choice of shooting in “Depth Snapshot” mode or in regular, single-photo mode. If you shoot a photo in Depth mode, it will be listed in the Dell Gallery app with an icon of a cube in the upper right corner of its thumbnail. When you open the photo in the gallery, you’ll see three icons on the left side of the screen for the three key depth functions. Though there was no significant lag between depth shots, it took more than 30 seconds of processing before each one was ready for editing in the gallery.
Editors Note: Dell says that the measurement tool that was enabled on our review unit is currently disabled on shipping tablets, but will be turned on via an over-the-air update in the near future.
Tapping the ruler icon allowed me to use the measurement tool to get real-world dimensions for objects in my photos, either by drawing a line between two points or drawing a box with four points. Placing the two points was easy, and I appreciated having a blow-up of the area below each point as I moved it around to get to the exact edge of a piece of furniture or a window.