A gorgeous OLED display
In a tablet, the display defines a large portion of the overall experience, and the one on the Venue 8 7000 is absolutely stunning. The first entry in my notes reads simply "my god this screen." The high pixel density makes images razor sharp, the sumptuous colors saturate your eyeballs, and the blacks are so dark it's like looking into Dick Cheney's soul.
I could stare at the screen for hours—and indeed I have. The display prompted me to spend a good chunk of one evening just flipping through photos. It's easily the most intoxicating part of the tablet.
|Dell Venue 8 7000|
Credit for the deep blacks goes to the OLED panel, which can turn off its pixels when they're not in use. The display stretches a 2560x1600 WQXGA resolution across an 8.4" diagonal, resulting in a pixel density of 359 PPI. Although that density is lower than what some smaller handset screens deliver, it's higher than that of competing slates from Apple, Google, and Nvidia. The panel appears to be the same as the one in Samsung's Galaxy Tab S 8.4.
The only one of those tablets we have in-house is the Shield, whose 8" 1920x1200 display works out to 294 PPI. You can see how the Venue compares in the images below. Move your mouse over the thumbnails to see a pop-up window with a close-up shot—or tap the thumbnail to load the full image.
Dell uses the Venue's extra pixels to pack more icons onto the Android home screen and, more importantly, into the home row at the bottom. The default font size is a little small, but it works well for my eyes at normal viewing distances. Users can tweak the font size via the Android Settings menu.
Before the Venue arrived, most of my couch surfing happened on a Shield Tablet. The screen on that device is decent, but the Venue is clearly in a whole other league. Click the buttons below to see how full-screen images of the two compare. These shots don't capture the differences perfectly, but they track pretty closely with my real-world impressions.
The brightness on both tablets was set to ~180 cd/m², yet the Venue is clearly more vibrant, with richly saturated colors that make the Shield look faded and dull. Here's our colorimeter's assessment of how the two stack up against each other and a stack of other mobile devices:
The Venue produces a much wider range of colors than the Shield—wider than the sRGB gamut defined by the darker, inner triangle. Its output is similar to the Note 4's Adaptive mode, which achieves similar coverage with a smaller OLED panel.
Unlike the Note, the Venue lacks a secondary display mode that adheres strictly to the sRGB color space. Photographers and content creators could benefit from such a mode, and so could those who prefer natural tones to the over-saturated defaults. I tend to think all tablets should give users some degree of control over the display's color profile, if only to accommodate individual preferences for things like color temperature. Speaking of which...
The Venue's color temperature shadows our 6500K target. It's not as close to that mark as the Shield's native profile, but it's better than any of the other configs, albeit only slightly versus the Note 4's basic sRGB mode.
Our last set of color tests show the Venue in an excellent light. I'm surprised the delta-E numbers are so low given the display's saturated spectrum, though. Adaptive mode on the Note 4 has similar gamut coverage but much higher delta-E values. I used a different colorimeter and HCFR software revision to collect the data for the Venue and Shield, and that may explain the discrepancy.
The Venue aces our black-level tests thanks to its OLED display. It's not as bright as the competition, though. Even cranked all the way up, the display registers just 262 cd/m² on the meter. That's still plenty for most indoor environments, but brighter displays can be easier to read outdoors, especially under direct sunlight.
While we're on the subject, I should note that the brightness slider in the Venue's quick settings pull-down is comically small. The entire length of the slider fits under the width of my index finger, rendering it useless for fine adjustments.
Scott noticed some color shift when viewing the Note 4's display from off-center angles, so I decided to look for similar behavior in the Venue. It's posed to the right of the Shield in all of the comparison shots below, and it's propped up on a stack of business cards to ensure the two screens are at the same height.
The image at the top left is close to dead-on, and the Venue's reddish tint definitely differs from the greenish hue of the angled shot below. The transition between tones is visible about a quarter of the way up the screen in the tilted image. A similar transition is present in the lower right image, but the colors are reversed. The display's greenish character comes out more in the shot above that one, albeit with what looks like a horizontal, reddish strip.
This color shift can be seen with the naked eye, and it's obviously not ideal. However, I much prefer it to the dimming evident in the Shield at the same angles.
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