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Dell Venue 10 7000 review: A high-end tablet-hybrid with a versatile design

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The Good The Dell Venue 10 7000 is a sleek tablet-hybrid with a sturdy Bluetooth keyboard. Performance is swift and smooth, and it runs on the Android Lollipop 5.0 operating system. It also features a stunningly sharp screen and nifty depth-sensing cameras.

The Bad It's a bit heavy and expensive. The small keyboard can feel cramped to type on.

The Bottom Line The refined build quality and slick performance of the Dell Venue 10 7000 make it one of the finest Android tablet-hybrids around.

7.7 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 7
  • Performance 8

The Dell Venue 10 7000 truly feels like a tablet-laptop hybrid. As a standalone tablet, its stylish build is elevated by an ergonomic quirk -- a chunky rounded spine that makes holding it in one hand naturally comfortable -- and when attached to the keyboard, it feels like a small and sturdy laptop.

The design is not without its faults; it's rather heavy, and the small Bluetooth keyboard can feel cramped. However, it's slim pickings out there for a solidly constructed tablet-hybrid. Add to that its smooth performance and the latest version of Android, you might begin to understand why it's so expensive.

The 10-inch Dell tablet starts at $499 (AU$381 or £779, converted) for the 16GB model and the price jumps to $629 (AU$824 or £403, converted) if you want the keyboard. If you want more internal memory, the 32GB only comes with the keyboard for a lofty $679 (AU$890 or £435 converted.) Australian availability has yet to be announced and it should be released in the UK soon.

Editors' note: The Dell Venue 10 7000 shares similar features to the Dell Venue 8 7000 . Parts of their reviews are similar.


Design

The Dell Venue 10 7000 looks less like the smaller Venue 8 7000 and more like a Lenovo Yoga tablet. As a standalone tablet, it features a rounded spine that makes it ergonomic to hold in one hand. The smooth finish of the aluminum spine also feels cool and comfy when you're gripping it.

When attached to its Bluetooth keyboard, the Dell Venue 10 7000 transforms into a netbook-like laptop. Bluetooth keyboard accessories are common, however the one that comes with the Venue 10 7000 is engineered specifically for that model. There's a concave edge at the top of the keyboard where the rounded spine of the tablet perfectly fits. Hinges on the left and right side lock into the tablet in a cog-like connection and the attachment feels solidly secure.

Looks like a laptop, acts like a tablet. Sarah Tew/CNET

The Dell Venue 10 7000's Bluetooth keyboard pairs quickly once set up and consistently stays connected. It isn't as spacious as a regular keyboard, so typing on it feels a bit cramped. It takes awhile to get used to, especially since the trackpad is so close to the keys. I often found myself accidentally grazing it while typing.

Thanks to the sturdy hinges, adjusting the viewing angle of the tablet is fluidly easy. The Venue 10 7000 can completely close like a laptop and tilt back to a maximum of about 125 degrees. To detach the keyboard, you simply tilt the tablet all the way back until it pops out of the hinges.

dell-venue-10-7000-3.jpg
Meet the hinges. Xiomara Blanco/CNET

Subtly blending into the stylish design of the Venue 10 7000 are the two front-facing speakers. They wrap around the spine so audio isn't blocked at any angle when connected to the keyboard. The construction of the tablet feels very solid, and its slimness gives it an on-trend high-end aesthetic.

The downside to the tablet's build is its heavy nature. Since it's wrapped in aluminum, when connected to the keyboard it weighs up to 2.4 pounds (1.08kg), considerably heavier than other high-end tablets.

dell-venue-10-7000-4.jpg
The power button and volume rocker are flush to the tablet's edge. Xiomara Blanco/CNET

Though its eccentric look isn't exactly unique -- Lenovo's Yoga tablet line has featured rounded spines for years -- Dell raises the bar with a model that's simultaneously solid, sleek and simple. The hinge-happy Bluetooth keyboard additionally adds a refined Android experience that's apt for work or play.

Features

The Dell Venue 10 7000 runs on the latest version of Google's Android operating system, Lollipop 5.0. The tablet does come with some preloaded software, however there's no custom overlay; it's a mostly pure version of the OS, giving it a refreshingly clean Android user experience.

The Venue 10 7000 features Dell's RealSense technology, which is also found in the Venue 8 7000. The three cameras on the back of the tablet conjunctively work to provide depth information, which, after taking the image, allows you to adjust the focal point. You can also measure an item in the photo, as well as calculate square footage.

dell-venue-10-7000-6.jpg
Three cameras for 3D effects Xiomara Blanco/CNET

To access the RealSense camera, you simply open the native camera app and select the arrow that sits next to the big, round shutter button. This expands a list of camera options in addition to depth-sensing, including video, panorama and burst. Once you take a photo, it's saved in the Dell Gallery where all of the editing possibilities are unleashed.

Choosing your focal point after the fact is a fun way to get creative with your photographs and it also works as a perk for quick shooters. Instead of worrying about focusing correctly, you can simply snap a photo and tinker with the details later. Just make sure to use a steady hand in order to ensure that the only blurriness visible is the blurriness you fine-tune yourself using the Dell Gallery photo-editing app.

The built-in gallery app organizes all of your photos. Screenshot by Xiomara Blanco/CNET

Also found in the Dell Gallery is the measurement tool. It's more on the practical side of things, but still nifty. To measure an item, you must first take a depth snapshot, then open it using the Dell Gallery app.

On the top-left corner of the screen, sitting between the icons for the filters and refocusing tool, is the measurement tool. You can choose to measure length or area of an object and you can also save those measurements for future reference. It's as simple as selecting Point A then Point B (and Point C and D if measuring an area.) The accuracy depends on lighting, distance, background, and the object, but I found it to be more spot-on for measurements of everyday objects, like the space available in a cabinet or the length of a rug, opposed to big items, like a skyscraper.

The measurement tool comes in handy when reorganizing your closet. Screenshot/CNET

Unlike Beyonce, the RealSense camera has its flaws. Firstly, the photo quality is underwhelming; it's hard to get an evenly exposed photo if the lighting isn't uniform, detail becomes grainy in low-lighting, and color looks a bit drab. These problems burden many a tablet cameras, even 8-megapixel shooters, so it's not surprising.

Second, there's a learning curve to using it. If you're anything like me, the challenge of exploring a new facet of photography on a tablet is exciting. Sure, there's the issue of looking like a dork when busting out your tablet to snap a shot, but the faux-pas may justify the photo.

Separate, but equally important to the success of Venue 10 7000's design. Sarah Tew/CNET

I found myself fully immersed in the Dell Gallery's powerful editing app, exploring the ways I could use the 3D camera to create or enhance a beautiful image. The Intel RealSense camera excitingly pushes the creative boundaries of tablet photography and I really like it -- I just wish the photo quality was better.

Hardware

The Dell Venue 10 7000 houses a 2.3GHz quad-core Intel Atom Z3580 CPU, Intel HD Graphics GPU, 2GB of RAM, and 16GB of internal storage, with a microSD card slot that's expandable up to 512GB. The tablet also has 802.11ac Wi-Fi capabilities with Miracast support and Bluetooth 4.1.

Performance

The Dell Venue 10 7000 performs like a champ. It performed smooth and swift for basic tasks, like checking email or streaming video, and also when running large apps and games. It kept its cool when multiple apps in the background, and the only lag I experienced was when it was downloading updates -- a common issues for all Android devices.

To take full advantage of the keyboard, Dell loads the Venue 10 7000 with Polaris Office suite. Unfortunately, if the keyboard becomes disconnected while using it, the app abruptly closes your document and you lose whatever work wasn't saved. For this reason, I preferred using Google Docs for writing instead.

Cool keyboard with a cramped feel. Sarah Tew/CNET

When it comes to gaming, the rounded edge of the tablet makes it awkward to hold for some games and since the weight of the tablet is located mostly along that rounded edge, flipping it over isn't exactly comfortable either. The good news is that the Dell Venue 10 7000 has some pretty good gaming performance.

3DMark Ice Storm (Unlimited)

Nvidia Shield Tablet
28104
Apple iPad Air 2
21647
Dell Venue 10 7000
21004

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

The 10-inch screen boasts a 2,560x1,600-pixel resolution OLED display that looks stunning. Everything from HD video and text to gaming graphics and in-app ads appear satisfyingly crisp. It has wide viewing angles, and colors appears lifelike with the right amount of saturation.

dell-venue-10-7000-7.jpg
A sharp screen to match its sharp design. Xiomara Blanco/CNET

Dell claims that the Venue 10 7000's battery life should last around seven hours. After casual to heavy use on a full charge, the tablet lasted me about six hours. It's worth noting that it is slow to charge. We tested it in the CNET Lab by looping a local video in "Airplane mode" and it averaged 11.9 hours, which is very good for a tablet.

Battery test result
Dell Venue 10 7000 9.4

Conclusion

As a netbook-esque laptop in one configuration and an ergonomic tablet in another, the Dell Venue 10 7000 genuinely offers a two-in-one experience that gives you the best of both worlds. If that's what you're interested in, the sturdy aluminum build, cleverly constructed keyboard and smooth performance might justify its high cost.

The lofty price of the Venue 10 7000 earns it a close comparison to the Microsoft Surface 3 . The Surface Pro 3 currently costs the same as the Dell ($499 for the tablet, $630 for the tablet and keyboard), and it also features a great hybrid design. The Venue 10 7000 has an upper hand with a higher screen resolution and the cool depth-sensing cameras, but the Surface 3 runs a full version of Windows 8.1 -- a more robust OS -- and its keyboard is more stylishly compact. For typing on the go, the Microsoft tablet gives the Dell Venue 10 7000 a run for its money, and it's worth your serious consideration if you don't mind opting for Windows 8.1 (and soon Windows 10 ) instead of Android.

The Dell Venue 10 7000 is an impressive high-end tablet with a price tag to match. If you want access to the vast Google Play store and all of its apps, it's a great choice. If the variety of apps aren't a big deal, the Surface 3's OS makes for a better portable workstation.

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