Hands on: Dell Venue 8 7000 is the slimmest tablet in town

March 13th, 2015 | by Wilson Wong
Hands on: Dell Venue 8 7000 is the slimmest tablet in town
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At a time when it’s hard to distinguish one Android tablet from another, Dell certainly has its work cut out when launching the Venue 8 7000 this week in Singapore.

What it does have going for it is the tablet’s size – it’s touted as the slimmest today at 6mm.

That’s certainly a leap forward when you compare the Dell with the Apple iPad mini 3’s 7.5mm, Xiaomi MiPad’s 8.5mm and Nokia N1’s 6.9mm.

Dressed in an aluminum casing in industrial grey and black, the Dell tablet won’t feel out of place in the hands of a professional or executive. The whole device is well put together and feels premium to the touch.

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Handsome device with front facing speakers and thin bezel on three sides.

Powered by an Intel Atom Z3580 quad-core processor clocked at 2.3GHz and supported with 2GB of memory, the tablet will perform too. It certainly didn’t stutter through when tried it out briefly at a media event here on Wednesday.

Its 16GB onboard memory is modest, but with a microSD card slot supporting up to 512GB, storage shouldn’t be a problem.

It has both 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Intel’s new XMM 7260 LTE modem so staying in touch shouldn’t be a problem. With a handy 5,900mAh battery as power source, I don’t expect the tablet to need much recharging throughout a day unless there’s heavy usage via the 4G mobile connection.

What also impresses is the screen. The Venue 8’s Quad HD resolution at 2,560 x 1,600 is much higher than the Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) common on Android tablets sporting 8.4-inch displays with a 16:9 aspect ratio.

Generally, I also like the Venue 8’s bezel, which is fairly thin and adds a classy feel to the tablet. The exception is the edge at the bottom of the tablet, where the front facing speakers and camera are placed. It adds to the length of the device.

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Compared to the Nokia N1’s screen, the Dell Venue 8’s screen is very vivid. Perhaps a bit too vivid for some.

Right behind the speaker and camera are the three back-facing cameras which are part of Intel’s RealSense imaging technology.

The cameras enable the tablet to sense depth in a scene. This means you can make an on-the-fly change of focus, take measurements of objects within the image and add effects and motion to the images. It’s the tablet’s main selling point.

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There are three cameras in use for RealSense system. The bottom camera is the main camera with the two smaller cameras used for 3D sensing and depth measurement, very much like our left and right eyes.

Yet, frustration got the better of me when I tried taking photos. For right-handers, you would naturally place the right hand at the right side of the screen. However the extremely thin bezel means some of the on-screen buttons get in the way.

Sure, you can rotate the tablet so your hand rests on the thickest bezel where the speaker is, but then your fingers would cover the three cameras at the back.

Using the RealSense would also mean more processing is needed for each image. When I took several pictures with the tablet, it took several seconds – a discernible lag – to process and save the images.

Is the trouble worth it? Know that this post-processing is not magic. If you change the focusing distance afterwards, you will might not get the dramatic, shallow depth of field you desire, because of the tiny sensor used here.

Having said that, a tablet like the Venue 8 isn’t the go-to device for snap shots for most users. Perhaps RealSense might do better in a smartphone?

What I find less forgivable is that the tablet is out with only Android 4.4 “Kit Kat”. With new tablets now already on the new Android 5.0 “Lollipop”, Dell should already have loaded a premium device like the Venue 8 with the updated software.

Yes, in case you’re thinking, it’s not a cheap tablet. The Venue is going for S$659 with a folio case. An additional S$40 gets you a fancier folio case with a keyboard attached.

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