Dell Venue 7 review: Simple and affordable with stable performance

Device CPU GPU RAM OS tested
Dell Venue 8 2.1GHz dual-core Intel Atom Z3480 PowerVR G6400 1GB Android 4.4.2
Lenovo A8 1.3GHz quad-core MediaTek 8121 Mali 400 MP 1GB Android 4.2.2
Asus MeMo Pad 8 1.33GHz quad-core Intel Atom Z3745 Intel HD Graphics for BayTrail 1GB Android 4.4.2

Performance

The original Dell Venue tablets excelled in smooth performance and the 2014 revamps are no different. The Venue 7 and 8 didn't bat an eyelash while executing basic tasks like browsing the Web, checking email, streaming video, and playing simple mobile games.

I quickly switched from one app to another without a hitch and, even with many apps open in the background, it kept on chugging as if nothing was happening. Performance noticeably slows down when downloading many apps or updates, but otherwise maintains a consistent swiftness to executing tasks.

img0634.jpg
View full gallery (12 Photos)
The volume buttons are almost flush to the edge. Xiomara Blanco/CNET

To be sure, there were a few hiccups like crashing apps and delayed touchscreen response, but not persistent enough to hinder the user experience. Large apps and games take awhile to load, which is usually the case for simple-spec budget slates. Whereas basic tasks could be conducted with apps open in the background just fine, utilizing large apps in the same manner did not bode as well. Closing background apps significantly helped large apps and games launch faster and perform better.

Tested spec Dell Venue 7 Acer Iconia One 7 LG G Pad 7
Maximum brightness 372 cd/m2 354 cd/m2 319 cd/m2
Maximum black level .34 cd/m2 .43 cd/m2 .31 cd/m2
Contrast ratio 1094:1 823:1 1029:1
Pixels-per-inch 216ppi 216ppi 216ppi
Screen resolution 1,280x800 1,280x800 1,280x800

The Dell Venue 7 has a brighter screen than its latest competition in the small budget tablet category, but the rest of its screen specs, including its 1,280x800-pixel resolution, are average. It's decently sharp for streaming video and looking at high-quality images. A subtle yellow tint to the videos and images on the screen is evident, mostly when seen in comparison to other devices.

Tested spec Dell Venue 8 Lenovo A8 Asus Memo Pad 8
Maximum brightness 368 cd/m2 300 cd/m2 389 cd/m2
Maximum black level .34 cd/m2 .21 cd/m2 .16 cd/m2
Contrast ratio 1082:1 1428:1 2431:1
Pixels-per-inch 283ppi 189ppi 189ppi
Screen resolution 1,920x1,200 1,280x800 1,280x800

The Venue 8 doesn't suffer from the pervasive yellow hue on the 7-inch model and benefits from a higher screen resolution. The upgrade to a 1,920x1,200-pixel resolution makes a noticeable difference when watching HD video; in comparison, the 7-incher's screen looks pixelated (yet still watchable.)

Both Venue tablets have an ambient light sensor, so it can automatically adjust the screen's brightness when you change environments. This small feature is missing on many budget tablets, so its inclusion here is welcome.

img0671.jpg
View full gallery (12 Photos)
Surfing and streaming is smooth sailing on the Dell Venue 7 and 8. Xiomara Blanco/CNET

The Dell Venues have a 5-megapixel rear camera and the 7-inch has a 1-megapixel front-facing camera, while the 8-inch has a 2-megapixel one. The selfie-shooters produce fuzzy photos, but work fine for video conferencing. The rear camera is one of the sharpest I've seen on a budget tablet. If a photo is taken in focus, the details hold up when zoomed in to full resolution. Colors are still a bit washed out and the native camera apps doesn't offer many scene modes or manual options, however, the refreshingly sharp photo quality makes the transgressions forgivable.

Battery life was average. Both Venue slates lasted about a day with heavy use and about a day and a half with consistent casual use. Check back once we're done with battery testing in the CNET Labs for full results.

img0644.jpg
View full gallery (12 Photos)
If I had to pick a favorite Venue, it would be the 7. Xiomara Blanco/CNET

Conclusion

The Dell Venue 7 and 8 offer the rare treat of bloatware-free vanilla Android with performance stable enough for everyday use, like checking email, surfing the Web, and binging on Netflix series.

The Venue 8 is just as capable as its smaller brother, but enters a more competitive 8-inch tablet category. If you want something that offers more bang for your buck, the Asus Memo Pad 8 is filled to the brim with features and pre-loaded apps, though its resolution isn't as high as the Venue 8.

The Dell Venue 7 is one of the best 7-inch budget options under $200, but if you can make your dollar stretch, the Google Nexus 7 is still the pure Android beast to beat.

Editors' Top PicksSee All

  • Apple iPad Air 2

    Starting at: $409.99
    4.5 stars

    Even thinner, even lighter, even faster, the iPad Air 2 is definitely better, but it's...

  • Google Nexus 9

    Starting at: $339.99
    4 stars

    Google has partnered with HTC to serve up its greatest pure Android tablet yet.

  • Dell Venue 8 7000

    Starting at: $399.00
    4 stars

    Rocking a stylishly slim design and depth-sensing cameras, the photo-friendly Dell Venue...

  • Nvidia Shield Tablet

    Starting at: $299.00
    4 stars

    A powerful new Nvidia processor and lots of features make Nvidia's tablet an impressive...

 

Discuss Dell Venue 7 Tablet Computer - ftcwt03c2

Conversation powered by Livefyre