Dell Venue 8
2.1GHz dual-core Intel Atom Z3480
1.3GHz quad-core MediaTek 8121
Mali 400 MP
Asus MeMo Pad 8
1.33GHz quad-core Intel Atom Z3745
Intel HD Graphics for BayTrail
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.
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.
Dell Venue 7
Acer Iconia One 7
LG G Pad 7
Maximum black level
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.
Dell Venue 8
Asus Memo Pad 8
Maximum black level
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.
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.
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.