Dell Venue 8 review: Pure Android OS at an attractive price

The 5-megapixel rear camera lacks sharpness and customization options. Josh Miller/CNET

Performance
When it came to simple activities like checking e-mail and surfing the Web, the Venue 8 consistently performed swiftly and smooth; I rarely had an issue with crashing apps, sluggish behavior, or buggy functionality. Wi-Fi speeds were decently fast for browsing and watching video

The Venue 8 features a 1,280x800-pixel resolution screen, which isn't particularly high or impressive compared with what's out there, but HD video still looked clear and sharp. The 8-inch IPS screen delivers great viewing angles, and colors looked decently vibrant and saturated.

Despite the Venue 8's suppar resolution, HD video still looked crisp. Josh Miller/CNET

Text on the screen looked sharp and readable, even small text, and the touch screen was responsive. I did, however, occasionally have swipes and gestures go unrecognized.

N.O.V.A. 3 Level 1 load time (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

3DMark (normal)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

The single speaker, located on the corner of the bottom-right edge, was surprisingly loud. Unfortunately, when listening to it at loud volumes, audio sounded tinny; crashing cymbals sounded harshly unpleasant, and bass-heavy music suffered from distortion. At medium and low volumes the distortion was less audible. Also, for my personal taste, I found the headphone volume set a bit too low.

The single speaker on the bottom edge is loud, but prone to distortion. Josh Miller/CNET

The Venue 8 features a 2-megapixel shooter on the front and 5-megapixel one in the back. Both cameras produced disappointing photos that were fuzzy, grainy, and dark. You can't choose your focal point, and your customization options are limited to white balance and picture size.

Tested spec Dell Venue 8 LG G Pad 8.3 Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 Google Nexus 7 (2014)
Maximum brightness 356 cd/m2 306 cd/m2 395 cd/m2 570 cd/m2
Maximum black level 0.43 cd/m2 0.24 cd/m2 0.39 cd/m2 0.44 cd/m2
Maximum contrast ratio 828:1 1,275:1 1,012:1 1,295:1

Here are our official CNET Labs-tested battery life results. More tablet testing results can be found here.

Video Battery life (in hours)
Dell Venue 8 7.9

The Dell Venue 7 and 8 both offer smooth performance in similar packages. Josh Miller/CNET

Conclusion
The simplicity of pure Android OS is complementary to the no-frills design of the Venue 8, and when combined with a sub-$200 price tag, it makes for an attractive option. The Lenovo Yoga 8 is another budget Android tablet, but costs $250 and includes an unbecoming, heavily modified operating system.

Other 8-inch tablets, like the $400 Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 and the $350 LG G Pad 8.3 , offer better screens and faster internal specs, but if you don't need upgraded specs, the Venue 8's $179 starting price is a more tempting option.

The Dell Venue 8 is like a wedding singer that meets its audience's basic requirements, but lacks any extra bravado or charisma to truly floor you. Yep, the Venue 8 is no Beyonce, but with a $179 price, fine performance, and a no-frills design, it doesn't have to be. It's a perfectly acceptable and cheaper alternative.

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Quick Specifications See All

  • Weight 0.79 lbs
  • Type Android 4.2.2
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