Dell’s Venue 8 7000 tablet reviewed

All too many headlines about Dell’s Venue 8 7000 tablet focus on the device’s slender profile. I suppose that’s to be expected given the tech industry’s obsession with slim devices, but I can’t help but roll my eyes. The Venue shaves a mere 0.1 mm off thickness of the second-gen iPad Air, making its “world’s thinnest” billing a technical distinction rather than a truly meaningful advantage.

Don’t get me wrong. The Venue’s lithe frame is pretty amazing. However, its external dimensions are impressive not because they’re the smallest, but because of what Dell has managed to squeeze within them.

Inside the Venue’s machined aluminum body sits a Moorefield-based Atom processor with quad x86 cores and PowerVR graphics. That SoC combines with an Intel RealSense camera to enhance 2D stills with 3D depth information. Then there’s the high-PPI OLED display framed by remarkably narrow bezels, the Micro SD slot, and the mostly stock Android install.

Fitting all those elements into a headline would be difficult, but they’re far more important to the Venue’s appeal than its ability to slip into a slightly smaller dress size. They also raise an interesting question: if Dell managed to cram all that inside the slimmest tablet around, what—if anything—did it have to give up? We’ve put the Venue 8 7000 through the wringer to find out, and you might be surprised by what we’ve learned.

Ignore the screen’s purplish tint; the white balance was set based on the backdrop rather than the display

An unabashedly premium Android slate

Dell designed its Android flagship to be a premium tablet capable of going toe-to-toe with the best in the business. The Venue’s $399 starting price puts the device squarely opposite the Nexus 9 and iPad Mini 3, as does its 8.4″ display diagonal. In a lot of ways, the Venue is a noticeable step up from both of those alternatives.

Check out our discussion of the Venue 8 7000 on the TR Podcast

One of the biggest upgrades is the thin frame around the “infinity” display. The screen stretches nearly to the device’s edge on three sides, making the tablet’s footprint smaller than one might expect given the display size.

Such skinny bezels make the Venue a little complicated to hold. The tablet is best grasped by its fat bottom lip, which can be pinched in both portrait and landscape orientations. Portrait works best for most tasks, I find, and the keyboard is especially easy to use when double-fisting in that mode. While a teenager would still smoke me in a thumb-typing contest, I can confidently bang out paragraphs on the Venue with surprising speed and relatively few typos.

At just 305 grams, the Venue is light enough to cradle comfortably in one hand. Its well-balanced body weighs 35 g less than the Mini 3 and 120 g less than the Nexus 9. The Venus is thinner, too; it has 1.4 mm on the Mini and 2 mm on the Nexus. Here’s how it compares to the Shield Tablet, which is 3.1 mm thicker (and $100 cheaper).

The Shield Tablet (left) and Venue 8 7000 (right)

Although the differences in thickness are noticeable, I think we’ve passed the point of diminishing returns. Cutting the z-height further buys little beyond the initial gee-whiz factor, an admittedly important aspect for device makers trying to give folks reasons to upgrade from older, thicker tablets.

Shaving millimeters can have some unintended consequences. On the Venue 8 7000, for example, the shallow sides can be difficult to pinch when lifting the tablet off a flat surface. Squared-off edges are part of the problem, as are my thick, sausage-like fingers.

Thinner devices can also be a bit flimsy, especially the featherweight ones. Rigidity isn’t an issue here, though. The Venue’s construction feels incredibly strong, as if the entire tablet were chiseled from a single slab. The tablet doesn’t droop at all when it’s held horizontally by one corner, and the frame barely flexes when it’s twisted in my hands.

The Venue’s overall build quality appears to be exceptional. The in-hand feel is comparable to the iPad Mini 3—if not better—which puts it miles ahead of the Nexus 9. Much of credit goes to the aluminum shell, whose solid feel exhibits none of the give present in the Nexus’ squishy posterior. If the Venue’s edges were sharpened, I’m pretty sure you could take someone’s head clean off with the thing.

Even the buttons are well done. They protrude just enough to catch the fingertips, and they’re backed by a satisfying click. Contrary to the norm, though, they’re all on the left side of the case. Weird.

The Venue 8’s aluminum shell is smooth and cool to the touch. Gaming and benchmark sessions cause it to warm noticeably, with most of the heat concentrated in its lower half. Still, temperatures stay low enough that the tablet remains comfortable to hold even after hours of looping the Epic Citadel demo. Basic tasks like web surfing and email barely produce any noticeable heat.

Most of the tablet’s back is clad in machined metal that resists visible smudging. Unfortunately, the plastic strip at the bottom is a magnet for fingerprints and unsightly smears. The marks are a little difficult to photograph, but you can see them if you look closely at the picture below.

I’ve never understood why device makers put glossy finishes on surfaces that are constantly touched by oily digits. There’s a random glossy panel on the power adapter, too, but at least it’s confined to an area users are less likely to grasp. The glossy strip on the tablet is basically right one would grip it. Even more frustratingly, the other side of the plastic lip has a matte finish.

The front-facing portion of this grip area is perforated with tiny holes for the integrated speakers. Their sound quality is surprisingly decent for a device this size, and the pre-installed MaxxAudio Waves software provides multiple profiles with extra volume and low-end grunt. Just be careful not to muffle the speakers while holding the tablet. A poorly placed thumb can have a big impact on the character of the sound.

Dell Venue 8 7000
Model v8TBL-7840BLK
SoC Intel Atom Z3580
Display size & resolution 8.4″ 2560×1600
System RAM 2GB LPDDR3-1600
Flash storage capacity 16GB internal

Up to 512GB via Micro SD

Cameras 8/6MP Intel RealSense (rear)

2MP (front)

Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac 2.4GHz + 5GHz
Other connectivity Bluetooth 4.0, Miracast
I/O ports microUSB, 3.5-mm headphone
Battery 5900 mAh, 21 WHr
Dimensions 8.5″ x 4.9″ x 0.24″/216 x 124 x 6 mm
Weight 10.7 oz/305 g
Operating system Android 4.4.4 KitKat

We’ll cover the finer elements of the Venue over the next few pages, but it’s worth picking off some low-hanging fruit before we dive into the display, SoC, and other components.

Right now, the Venue 8 7000 is limited to 16GB of internal storage, only 9GB of which is available to the user. That’s a little low-rent given the device’s premium aspirations, but Dell tells us a 32GB variant is on the way. Expect it to arrive “in the coming months.”

Thankfully, the storage capacity of the existing model can be expanded dramatically via Micro SD. The Venue supports memory cards up to 512GB—a higher capacity than any other tablet we’ve encountered. Good luck finding a Micro SD card that large, though. Full-sized variants hit the 512GB mark last year, but I haven’t seen any Micro versions beyond 128GB.

A pin must be inserted into the chassis to eject the tray, which makes card swapping a little cumbersome. The tablet doesn’t come with the requisite tool, but a safety pin or bent paper clip will do in a pinch.

Unlike on some Android devices, SD cards behave much like conventional storage in the Venue 8. There are no issues writing files and folders directly with ES File Explorer, my go-to file management app. Performing the same tasks on the Shield Tablet produces errors, but at least that device has a Micro SD slot. Expandable storage isn’t available on any iPad or Nexus tablet.

We normally frown upon pre-installed applications, but ES File Explorer or some other file management utility would be a welcomed addition to the default Android install. As it stands, the system has a relatively light payload comprising Polaris Office, McAfee Mobile Security, a couple of Dell apps, and the aforementioned MaxxAudio software. The bloat is minimal, with no skins or alternative launchers to pollute the otherwise pure Android experience.

The Venue 8 7000 runs Android 4.4.4 KitKat, putting it a little behind the curve. A Lollipop update is due in “the coming months,” and the extra development time is unrelated to the Venue’s x86 underpinnings. Dell told us it has set a high bar for the overall user experience; OS updates won’t be released unless they’re “flawless.”

The experience with KitKat is close to perfect, with snappy load times and responsive touch feedback throughout. The UI animations are generally smooth, too, but some whole-screen transitions hitch every once in a while. This stuttering is too brief and infrequent to be problematic, but it stands out because everything else is so fluid.

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
Display size 8.4″
Display type OLED
Resolution 2560×1600
PPI 359

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 2560×1600 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″ 1920×1200 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.

Shield Tablet:

Venue 8 7000:

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.

Moorefield in the house

The Venue’s Atom Z3580 processor provides our first glimpse of Intel’s Moorefield SoC. This chip is fabbed on the same 22-nm, tri-gate process as the Bay Trail silicon found in budget Android tablets. But it’s designed to fit into smartphones, so the thermal envelope should be tighter than Bay Trail’s 2W SDP. (SDP refers to Scenario Design Power, a thermal rating meant to be more relevant to real-world workloads than traditional TDP ratings.) Surprisingly, the Z3580’s official specifications lack details on the thermal envelope. We’ve asked Intel for clarification.

Moorefield is based on the same Silvermont CPU architecture as Bay Trail. All the gory architectural details are explained in this article, but the big bullet points are support for 64-bit instructions and out-of-order execution. The other important item of note is the x86 instruction set, which differs from the ARM ISA that dominates the mobile world.

Intel and Google have been collaborating on x86 Android optimizations since 2011, so the ISA shouldn’t pose a problem with modern software. Android’s Dalvik VM can generate the appropriate instructions, and binaries compiled with the Native Developer Kit can target x86 specifically. In cases where ARM-specific code is the only option, binary translation software serves as an interpreter. There’s some unavoidable overhead associated with translating ARM instructions to x86, but Intel contends that the impact is minimal. Any potential ISA issues may ultimately be rendered moot by Lollipop, which features a new runtime environment with a cross-platform compiler.

Dell Venue 8 7000
SoC Intel Atom Z3580
Manufacturing process Intel 22 nm
CPU cores 4 Silvermont
Max core frequency 2.33GHz
System memory 2GB LPDDR3
Memory config 2 x 32-bit channels at 1600 MHz

Silvermont uses a dual-core module with 1MB of L2 cache shared between the cores. There are two modules in Moorefield, giving the SoC four CPU cores and 2MB of total L2. The Z3580 is the fastest Moorefield variant in Intel’s stable. It can scale up to 2.33GHz in Burst mode and down to a minimum frequency of just 333MHz. CPU-Z shows the chip regularly hitting top speed in the Venue 8 7000, and the frequency never drops below 500MHz when the app is running. Cores 0 and 1 run at the same speed, as do cores 2 and 3, which makes sense given the module-based arrangement.

Moorefield’s integrated memory controller has dual 32-bit channels with support for LPDDR3 memory up to 1600 MT/s. The chip can handle 4GB of RAM, though only half that amount is deployed in the Venue. 2GB is probably sufficient for most folks, and I didn’t encounter any situations where the tablet ran out of memory (that I could tell). Matching the memory capacity of cheaper slates like the Nexus 7 is hardly shooting for the stars, though. My OnePlus One smartphone has more RAM than the Venue—and it costs less, too.

Unlike Bay Trail, which features Intel’s own GPU, Moorefield relies on PowerVR Series 6 graphics from Imagination Technologies. We’ll delve into the GPU in a moment, so let’s move on to a couple other items. Cellular connectivity isn’t integrated into the SoC, but Moorefield is optimized for Intel’s LTE modems. An LTE-equipped version of the Venue is reportedly on the way. A variant with USB 3.0 isn’t in the cards, however. Although Moorefield supports the SuperSpeed spec, Dell deemed Gen2 connectivity to be sufficiently fast for the Venue—and easier to integrate into its slim chassis.

SoC and CPU performance

We’ve tested the Venue 8 7000 against several devices, the most comparable of which is Nvidia’s Shield Tablet. The Shield is based on the quad-core version of Nvidia’s Tegra K1 SoC. That chip uses off-the-shelf ARM cores rather than the custom Denver cores in the dual-core version of the Tegra K1 found in the Nexus 9. (We’re still trying to get our hands on one of those for testing.) There are two sets of results for the Shield below: one with the latest Lollipop build and another from the initial KitKat config.

Other competitors of note include the Nexus 7 2013, which has a Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro with quad Krait cores, and the Asus Memo Pad ME176C, a budget 7-incher powered by the Bay Trail-derived Atom Z3745. The Z3745 matches Moorefield’s core count, but the CPU only scales up to 1.86GHz.

There are several smartphones and phablets in the mix, as well. These aren’t in the same class as the Venue, but they can provide a helpful frame of reference for other SoCs and devices. The Apple A7 chip in the iPhone 5S, for example, is also used in the iPad Mini 3.

All the Apple devices have dual-core SoCs. The A7 uses Cyclone cores, the A8 in the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus features a tweaked version of Cyclone, and the A6 in the iPhone 5 is based on an older Swift CPU design. On the ARM front, the Korean version of the Galaxy Note 4 we tested sports a Samsung Exynos 5433 SoC that combines quad Cortex-A57 cores with quad A53s. The LG G3 and OnePlue One are both based on the Snapdragon 801, which has quad Krait cores.

One more thing. While the handsets operate within smaller power envelopes, the Venue is thinner than all of ’em. It just gets to dissipate heat over a much larger footprint.

Memory bandwidth

The Venue 8 7000 falls well short of its peak theoretical memory bandwidth in this directed test. Dual 32-bit channels tied to 1600 MT/s memory should be good for about 10GB/s, but the tablet manages no better than 7.2GB/s.

Still, the Venue comes out looking pretty good versus the other tablets. It trades blows with the Shield in the single- and multi-threaded tests, and it scores higher than the Nexus 7 and Memo Pad in both of them.

Geekbench

Geekbench runs natively on both iOS and Android, and it offers us a look at both single- and multi-threaded performance. Click on the buttons below to toggle between the two sets of results.

The Venue 8 7000 mostly sticks to the middle of the tablet pack. It’s slower than the Shield Tablet but faster than the Memo Pad and Nexus 7 through most of the single- and multi-threaded tests.

That said, the Venue stomps the Shield by a factor of five in the AES encryption test. The Memo Pad also fares well there, but its slower Bay Trail chip can’t keep up with the Venue’s faster Moorefield silicon. The Atom processors in both of those tablets support AES-NI instructions, a capability that Geekbench appears to exploit to great effect.

Broadening our focus to include handsets still leaves the Venue near the middle of the field. The tablet goes back and forth with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus in the multi-threaded tests, but it can’t keep up in the single-threaded ones. Meanwhile, the Galaxy Note 4 is faster across the board.

Here’s a closer look at how the Venue’s performance scales between one and many threads.

Single-

threaded

Multi-

threaded

Difference
Geekbench overall 945 2943 3.1x
Geekbench integer 1046 3668 3.5x
Geekbench floating point 845 3044 3.6x
Geekbench AES encryption 396 1576 4.0x
Geekbench raytrace 981 3880 4.0x

Performance increases by 4x in the encryption and raytrace tests, neatly living up to the potential of Moorefield’s quad-core config. The scaling isn’t perfect in the integer and floating-point tests, though, and it’s barely more than 3x overall.

Browser benchmarks

The Venue lands near the middle of the pack in most of our browser benchmarks. In SunSpider and Kraken, it’s once again wedged between the Shield and other Android tablets. The latest iPhones are comfortably ahead, though.

Google’s Octane benchmark apparently has a different makeup, because the Venue fares much better in that test. It’s just a smidgen behind the leading iPhone and ahead of the Shield Tablet.

BaseMark OS II

WebXprt

Moorefield handles WebXprt with aplomb, posting the highest overall score and taking wins in two of four component tests. It only loses ground to the Shield Tablet in the offline notes test, and then only by a smidgen to the Lollipop config.

I’m a little surprised to see the Venue outpace the Memo Pad by such a large margin, especially in the face detection test. The Memo Pad is outfitted with just 1GB of RAM, a limitation that may contribute to slower performance in some tests. It can’t even complete the Octane benchmark without the browser crashing.

Graphics by Imagination Technologies

Rather than relying on Intel’s homegrown graphics, Moorefield taps an off-the-shelf solution from Imagination Technologies. The PowerVR G6430 GPU is very similar to the integrated graphics in Apple’s A7 SoC.

Like other PowerVR GPUs, the G6430 employs a tile-based deferred rendering architecture that avoids expending resources on pixels that aren’t visible in the final scene. This approach never caught on in the desktop world, though it was available on a couple of “Kyro” graphics cards in the early 2000s. Tiling has been more popular in the mobile space, in no small part thanks to Apple’s preference for PowerVR GPUs.

The G6430 is a DirectX 10-class part with support for OpenGL ES 3.x, OpenGL 4.x, and OpenCL 1.2 EP. It supports Imagination Tech’s own PVRTC texture compression along with the ETC scheme developed with Ericsson. However, it lacks the ATSC texture compression present in some of PowerVR’s newer GX GPUs, including the GX6450 found in the Apple A8. Compared to its newer sibling, the G6430 also has smaller SRAM pools for its caches, tile buffers, and register file.

Source: Imagination Technologies

The GPU has four compute clusters that Imagination Tech calls USCs. Each USC has 32 ALU “cores,” and each of those can crunch two fp32 operations per clock with multiply-add instructions. The math works out to 256 fp32 flops per clock across the GPU as a whole.

Like Moorefield’s CPU, the integrated graphics frequency can scale dynamically. This particular G6430 implementation has a 457MHz base clock speed and a 533MHz Burst rate. At top speed, its peak theoretical throughput clocks in at 136 Gflops.

Dell Venue 8 7000
SoC Intel Atom Z3580
GPU Img Tech PowerVR G6430
Base frequency 457 MHz
Burst frequency 533 MHz
fp32 flops/clock 256
Texture filtering 8 texels/clock
Pixel fill 8 pixels/clock
System memory 2GB LPDDR-1600
Display resolution 2560×1600

The GPU clock speed of Apple’s A7 is estimated to be ~430MHz in the iPhone 5S. It’s likely a little higher in the iPad Mini 3, and it has less work to do in that tablet. The Mini 3’s 2048×1536 display is almost a million pixels short of the 2560×1600 unit in the Venue. That’s why we’ve presented two sets of graphics results: one at the native panel resolution and another at a fixed, offscreen resolution that’s consistent across all devices.

The Shield Tablet’s 1920×1200 display has about half as many pixels as the Venue’s high-PPI screen, so it will have a considerable advantage in our native resolution tests. Part of that advantage also stems from the tablet’s Tegra K1 SoC, which is based on Nvidia’s DirectX 11-class Kepler architecture. The K1 integrates a single Kepler SMX unit with 192 “CUDA cores.” Each of those cores can crunch two fp32 ops, giving the GPU more theoretical horsepower per clock than Moorefield’s graphics. That comparison doesn’t take into account the unavoidable efficiency differences between GPU architectures, of course. It also doesn’t factor in the Shield Tablet’s thicker chassis, which should enable higher GPU frequencies than the Venue’s slender frame.

Directed tests

So, yeah. The Tegra K1’s Kepler-derived graphics are pretty potent. The Shield Tablet decimates the pack in these texturing and shading tests, easily outclassing the Venue 8 7000.

To its credit, the Venue keeps up with the latest iPhones, whose lower-resolution displays shouldn’t affect performance in these offscreen benchmarks. Those handsets are based on Apple’s A8 SoC, whose PowerVR GX6450 sports a similar quad-USC config to Moorefield’s G6430.

The Venue is way ahead of the Nexus 7 and the Memo Pad. The Nexus 7 has a Qualcomm Adreno 320 GPU, while the Memo Pad employs a cut-down version of the integrated graphics in Intel’s Ivy Bridge CPUs.

Hmmm. Although the Venue easily beat the iPhone 5S in the texturing and shader tests, it’s slightly slower here. More remarkably, perhaps, it leads the Shield Tablet by a comfortable margin. Even the Nexus 7 scores better than the Nvidia device.

This test appears to measure driver overhead by issuing a draw call, changing state, and then repeating those steps over and over again. Surprisingly, the Venue can’t even match the Memo Pad, which lags behind it in all our other graphics tests. The Nexus 7 performs poorly, as well, but the Shield Tablet fares much better.

Off-screen gaming

These next three benchmarks are more complete than the directed tests above, since they involve rendering a real scene that could plausibly come from a mobile 3D game. The older iPhones can’t run GFXBench’s “Manhattan” test, because it requires OpenGL ES 3.0 compliance.

The Venue 8 7000 turns in respectable performances in these closer-to-real-world tests, but the deltas between it and the Shield Tablet are vast. The Shield is more than 2x faster in the GFXBench tests, and it has a commanding lead in 3DMark. At the same time, however, the Venue enjoys similarly massive advantages over the other tablets.

Note that the Venue’s performance in the Manhattan and T-Rex tests is pretty close to that of the iPhone 5S, which shares the same PowerVR GPU. The Venue scores much higher in 3DMark, where the iPhones fare comparatively worse overall.

Native device resolution gaming

These next tests run at each device’s native resolution, which tilts the playing field somewhat.

The Venue’s awesome display is a clear handicap here, plunging the tablet behind even the lowly Memo Pad. The Memo Pad’s 1280×800 display has just one quarter the pixels of the Venue, which translates to a lot less work for the GPU.

These native-resolution results might cause one to worry about the Venue’s gaming potential, but notice that the Nexus 7 scores lower in both tests. Although the Nexus isn’t a gaming powerhouse by any stretch, it’s certainly capable of playing most of the Android games on the market.

I tried a handful of popular titles on the Venue, including Riptide GP2, Asphalt 8, Plants vs. Zombies 2, Minecraft, Cordy, and Call of Duty: Heroes. They all ran smoothly, though I noticed the occasional stutter in Asphalt and Riptide, always when there was lots of action on the screen. I haven’t noticed similar hitching on the Shield Tablet, though I admittedly spend very little time gaming on touchscreen devices. The Shield is probably a better option for hard-core gamers, if only because it’s compatible with the growing selection of Tegra-specific Android games—and with Nvidia’s excellent external gamepad.

We can’t break BaseMark’s overall score into results from the benchmark’s component tests, making it a little difficult to interpret the numbers. The Venue performs reasonably well, for what it’s worth.

Image quality

One other feature of Basemark X is an intriguing quantitative test of graphics image quality.

Real-time graphics is strange because there’s not always one “right” answer about the color of a rendered pixel. Filtering methods and degrees of mathematical precision vary, since GPU makers take different shortcuts to trade off image quality against performance.

Basemark X attempts to quantify the fidelity of a GPU’s output by comparing it to some ideal—in this case, I believe the reference renderer is a desktop-class graphics chip. That’s a fair standard, since desktop chips these days produce something close to ideal imagery. The higher the signal-to-noise ratio reported, the closer these mobile GPUs come to matching the reference image. (Frustratingly, a couple of the devices refused to run the quality test with “out of memory” errors.)

Given their common GPU, it’s no surprise that the Venue 8 7000 and iPhone 5S score similarly. But they can’t keep up with the Shield, whose measured output quality is much higher in both tests.

To get a sense of how the Venue’s output looks to human eyes, check out the Epic Citadel screenshots below. The first one comes from the Venue, while the second comes from the Shield. Both tablets were run at their native resolution with the “ultra high quality” setting. Move your mouse over each image to see a close-up version of it, or click to open the full-resolution screenshot.

Venue 8 7000/PowerVR G6430:

Shield Tablet/Tegra K1:

I’ve switched back and forth between the two screenshots a bunch of times, and I have a hard time detecting a difference in rendering quality. The Venue’s output looks sharper to me, but that’s probably because the scene is being drawn with twice as many pixels as on the Shield.

Storage

As TR’s resident SSD reviewer, I’m a little apprehensive about the limited tools available to test storage performance on mobile devices. There’s a fair amount of run-to-run variance in Passmark’s storage tests, for example—even in read speed tests that should be unaffected by flash memory’s finicky write characteristics. Despite its name, Basemark OS II’s oddly named “memory” benchmark actually tests storage performance. The trouble there is the vague overall score, which provides little sense of performance in the underlying read and write speed tests.

The Venue 8 7000 scores well in Passmark’s write speed test but poorly in the read speed one. Basemark’s assessment of storage performance is very positive, but I wouldn’t put too much stock in the results overall.

For what it’s worth, the Venue’s load times with popular games are comparable to those of the Shield Tablet. I didn’t test load times with conventional apps, which often open too quickly for the differences between devices to be meaningful.

Battery life

We tested battery life in four different scenarios. In each case, the display brightness was set to 180 cd/m² before starting, and display auto-brightness features were disabled. Our workload for the web surfing tests was TR Browserbench. The video test involved looped playback of a 1080p video recorded on one of the phones, and our gaming workload was the Unreal Engine-based Epic Citadel demo.

The Venue is good for 14 hours of web browsing and nine hours of 1080p video playback in our tests. That’s pretty good in absolute terms—and versus the competition. The Shield Tablet has substantially lower battery life in each case.

The devices’ run times are much lower in our gaming test, yet the Venue holds its own. It’s only beaten by premium phablets from Apple and Samsung.

A RealSense camera that shoots in three dimensions

The Venue 8 7000 has not one, not two, not three, but four individual cameras built into its frame. As if people needed encouragement to be that guy taking pictures with a tablet. There’s some method to the madness, though, because the three rear-facing units cooperate to embed 3D information in 2D images.

Dell Venue 8 7000
Primary camera resolution 8.0 megapixels (3264×2448)
Depth camera resolution 6.0 megapixels (3264×1836)
Front-facing camera resolution 2.1 megapixels (1920×1080)
Max video resolution HD (1920×1080) at 60 FPS

The front-facing HD camera is awkwardly placed in the lower left corner of the device’s bottom lip, resulting in a low, chin-heavy view when holding the tablet naturally in portrait mode. That’s if you manage to hold the thing without blocking the lens, which is difficult to do in that orientation.

There are ergonomics issues with the rear-facing cameras, too. The main 8MP shooter is located at the bottom of the case, while its dual 720p sidekicks hang out a couple inches above. It’s nearly impossible to hold the tablet in portrait mode without obscuring at least one of those cameras. Switching to landscape orientation doesn’t help as much as one might expect, since the cameras are still on the opposite side of the tablet’s effective handle. Holding the tablet in an upside-down portrait config seems to work best.

The rear shooters are part of what Intel calls its RealSense Snapshot Depth Camera. The RealSense brand is familiar from front-facing implementations designed for notebooks, but this incarnation is very different. Instead of relying on a custom module with integrated cameras and a dedicated ASIC, the Snapshot uses off-the-shelf cameras and relies on the SoC for processing. Depth information from the 720p sensors is added to still shots taken with the main camera. The associated processing takes about 12 seconds on the Venue, but there’s no need to wait unless you want to manipulate the image immediately. The camera is capable of taking multiple depth shots in rapid succession.

Embedded depth information enables a few neat tricks. Dell’s Gallery software can dynamically change the focal point to blur the background behind subjects—or the blur the foreground, if you prefer. Instagram-style filters can be applied based on depth instead of to the image as a whole, and a measurement function can estimate linear distances and 2D areas.

The accuracy of the measurements is dependent on lighting and distance. More light is better, of course, and Intel says the depth mojo is most effective for objects three to 30 feet from the camera. Setting measurement points is easy, and the software zooms in automatically to enable precise placement.

Even at ideal distances with lots of light, the filtering and focus tricks don’t work perfectly. In the shot below, for example, artifacts are clearly visible along my dog’s back. I exaggerated the flaws by cranking the focus intensity all the way up, but they’re still evident with a subtler treatment—and in some of the other shots I took.

The next shots show a depth-sensitive back-and-white effect, and the results look much better. The original image is on the left.

I could do better in Photoshop, but it would take a lot longer than the few seconds required to select and apply depth-sensitive filters in Dell’s software. Once the initial depth information is processed, photo manipulation is quick and easy.

Although the image quality looks decent in the shrunken shots above, it doesn’t hold up at full size. Check out the following indoor and outdoor scenes—and don’t forget to zoom in by moving your mouse over the images or clicking on them.

The resolution of depth-infused images is lower than for conventional shots, too. While standard images have eight megapixels spread across a 4:3 aspect ratio, depth shots are limited to six megapixels and 16:9. Data from the 720p cameras is layered on top of the main shot, whose aspect ratio has to match. Intel says there’s also a “very small amount of cropping” beyond simply slimming down to 16:9.

Speaking of cropping, the on-screen camera view lops off a sizable chunk of the scene toward the top of the tablet’s natural portrait orientation, making framing more difficult than it needs to be. The hidden portion of the scene is at least visible in the small window that shows input from the 720p cameras.

Quirks aside, adding a degree of depth to 2D images is pretty cool. Intel says “all kinds of stuff” can be done once the data is there, and it’s working with multiple partners on new apps that take advantage of the Snapshot camera. I just wish the tech were deployed on a more suitable device. Taking pictures on the Venue is more unwieldy than with other tablets, and the image quality isn’t good enough for serious photography.

Conclusions

Android rose to prominence in tablets on the back of budget devices that cost a fraction of the Venue 8 7000’s sticker price. But there’s room for a better experience, and the Venue delivers one.

The Venue’s overall fit and finish is impeccable even compared to other premium devices. Despite its thin, lightweight frame, the chassis is much stronger than one might expect. Those attributes contribute to a futuristic feel even before the device is turned on, and lighting up the display drives the point home in dramatic fashion.

The combination of thin bezels, high pixel density, and rich colors make the Venue’s screen pop like on no other tablet I’ve encountered. The over-saturated colors won’t be for everyone, so Dell should really add a secondary display mode that dials things back a little. However, I’ve grown so fond of the candy-coated profile that even my IPS desktop monitors have lost some of their luster.

The Venue 8’s overall performance is good but not great, with middle-of-the-road benchmarks scores in most of our tests. The tablet is very responsive for day-to-day use, though. Apps load quickly, and games run surprisingly well at its native resolution. The Venue’s battery life is also excellent. Although some folks might be willing to trade a millimeter or two of thickness for longer run times, few people actually need more than the 14 hours of web browsing this thing delivers on a single charge.

Dell scores big points for the Venue’s expandable storage, which is pretty much essential given the limited capacity of the lone 16GB model. The stock OS is appreciated, as well, as are some of the little touches, like having the tablet turn on automatically when it’s picked up. Too bad the Lollipop update isn’t ready yet. It’s coming soon, but Dell won’t commit to future updates beyond that, saying only that it will deploy new OS revisions if it can deliver a good experience.

The Venue 8 has to be awfully good in order to justify its $399 starting price. Part of me wishes this tablet were cheaper, but I wouldn’t give up anything to make it so—except for maybe the depth-infused camera, which is a bit clumsy to use.

A low asking price may be the only real casualty of the Venue’s uber-thin chassis. That’s OK, because the end result isn’t a weak, anorexic supermodel starved for the runway—it’s a sleek, sinewy marathon runner that’s still beautiful enough for a cover shot. If I could have only one Android tablet, this would undoubtedly be it.

Comments closed
    • PC Perv
    • 5 years ago

    I told you that your measurement of bandwidth using Stream is flawed in your Note 4 review, when it comes to big.LITTLE is concerned. You glossed over big.LITTLE’s low showing in synthetic memory bandwidth test as if it were stemming from “overheating,” which is a usual cure-all excuse for the clueless reviewers.

    [quote<].. ARM, as opposed to designs by Apple or NVIDIA, uses separate read and write data-ports in its fabric. On the cluster level, this is a dual 128-bit interface (one for reads, one for writes) that connects to matching ports of the SoC's memory controllers via the CCI's (Cache Coherent Interconnect) crossbar architecture. On the Exynos 5430 and 5433, the CCI runs at half the DRAM frequency, meaning 412.5 MHz for the aforementioned SoCs. This results in a maximum physical bandwidth of 6.6 GB/s in each direction.. What most of today's synthetic benchmarks portray is only the bandwidth measured in either direction, giving ARM a distinctive disadvantage. Total achievable bandwidth can reach double these figures. In fact, when we execute simultaneous read and write tests (multithreaded on two CPUs) we benchmark bandwidth numbers reaching the theoretical peaks of the memory controllers at 13.2GB/s..[/quote<] [url<]http://www.anandtech.com/show/8718/the-samsung-galaxy-note-4-exynos-review/5[/url<] You are going to make yourself look a fool with all the upcoming Snapdragons reviews because all the Snapdragons this year (not to mention Exynos) will use ARM cores. As to your review of this tablet.. I will not pass my judgment. I just hope prospective buyers check this tablet out in person before they decide. Thankfully the tablet is currently BestBuy exclusive, so chances of in-person evaluation prior to purchase are high.

      • tipoo
      • 5 years ago

      Hmm, that is interesting. I’m not sure which number would be more relevant though – actually I think TRs is probably the important one. If you think about it, it could only hit 13GB/s with a perfect blend of reads and writes, while most applications would be heavily reading or heavily writing when it matters most. The other chips, like the A8, could achieve their max benchmarked speed with any blend of reads and writes, rather than needing a neat split.

    • Deanjo
    • 5 years ago

    Now if only I could get this form factor for sub-$100. It has a nice form factor for permanent mounting in my truck for my OBD II interface software. Unfortunately, I returned the last x86 based tablet I bought (which was ugly) because the OBD-II software for android wouldn’t work on it (works fine on ARM based tablets).

    • Deanjo
    • 5 years ago

    [quote<]Dell told us it has set a high bar for the overall user experience; OS updates won't be released unless they're "flawless."[/quote<] Read: We might bring out one update but other than that we would rather you buy a new model to get the new version of OS.

    • cmrcmk
    • 5 years ago

    [quote<]Moorefield's integrated memory controller has dual 32-bit channels[/quote<] Aren't memory channels in PC CPUs 64-bit? So one channel on an i5 == both channels on this SOC? If so, is there any meaningful difference between these arrangements or is it merely a reflection of engineering choices (e.g. "We made a 32-bit memory controller and CTRL+V, CTRL+C'd it to boost bandwidth and capacity" vs "We just built a 64-bit monolithic controller to get the same result but without the option of disabling half of it for lower cost SKUs")? And then there is GPUs where we don't even talk about it as "channels" but simply note the entire width of the memory interface (e.g. 256-bit, 384-bit, 512-bit, etc.). Aside from the type of memory supported, is the 256-bit memory interface on the Geforce GTX 980 all that different than the quad channel 64-bit interface of a i7-5xxx? Thanks in advance for y'all's insight.

    • Shambles
    • 5 years ago

    Am I missing something? Is there some reason why TR is benching a tablets battery life against phones instead of comparable tablets?

    Either way any article that starts by gushing about the thinness of a device is a red flag. Yet another product that cares more about what it looks like on the shelf rather than how useful it is in your home.

      • Dissonance
      • 5 years ago

      Did you miss the part where we tested battery life against the Shield tablet?

      Or the parts where I talk about the Venue being beyond the point of diminishing returns on the thickness front? I roll my eyes [i<]in the first sentence[/i<].

        • Damage
        • 5 years ago

        Not soon enough. Article’s contents must be fully summarizable in a brief headline. Must conform to reader’s pre-conceived notions. Test results must show readers’ favorite as performing better. Must track with results from other publications with lower testing standards. Nuance is a sign of weakness, not sophistication.

        Man, we have [i<]talked[/i<] about this!

          • Shambles
          • 5 years ago

          You mean like this?
          [quote<]Dell's Venue 8 7000 is the thinnest tablet around, and that's not even the most exciting thing about it. [/quote<]

        • Shambles
        • 5 years ago

        Bah, reading fail. I’m so used to the typical headlines my brain filled in what I expected to see.

        Yes the shield tablet is on there but it’s hardly known for it’s battery life. In your shield tablet review you have it benched against 14 devices. A couple are ultrabooks but the majority of them are tablets. If I’m looking for a tablet I’m not going to be considering an iPhone or a Note. I just thought it was weird and was wondering if there was a reason that a tablet’s battery life would be compared to other devices that are much smaller and running additional radios.

          • Dissonance
          • 5 years ago

          Battery life testing is time consuming, so we can’t test every platform for every review. The results in the Shield review were based on a different screen brightness and lower-resolution video file, so we couldn’t re-use those. Also, most of the other tablets in the Shield review are budget slates that cost half as much as the Venue. The T100 is the obvious exception, but as a 10″ Windows convertible, it’s not really a direct competitor, either.

          I’m happy to run more battery life tests and publish an update if anyone wants to send me a Nexus 9 and iPad Mini 3 😉

    • Ninjitsu
    • 5 years ago

    Scott, I think you should have reported the graphics and physics scores for 3DMark separately as well, as the final score combines both, and Silvermont cores do quite well in the physics tests.

    • tipoo
    • 5 years ago

    That driver overhead test, do the GFXbench people say how they distinguish that from pure single core performance? Because it seems like things tend to just line up with how much a single core can push…How do they translate that to OS overhead?

    Easy proof is that the iPhone 5 scores much lower with the same OS as the 5S. Near directly in proportion to the increase in single core performance.

    [url<]https://techreport.com/r.x/dell-venue8-7000/gfx-1080p-driver.gif[/url<]

    • tipoo
    • 5 years ago

    Glad you guys took a look at this, my primary interest was more in the SoC since this is also the chip in the upcoming Zenfone 2, which seems like it might be the next budget phone winner (if it’s easy to get here). I wonder how well it will scale down to a smartphones thermal and power draw limits.

    Does that chip have any problems running games, which most certainly are native rather than java? Stuff like Clash of Clans?

      • auxy
      • 5 years ago

      I don’t have this device, or anything all that similar to it, but I have several Bay Trail android devices at work, and most more involved games on the Google Play store DO say they are “Not compatible with your device”. Whether that’s due to the Intel processor or some driver problem or some other software issue I don’t know.

        • NTMBK
        • 5 years ago

        Could well be dodgy Intel graphics drivers. Maybe the Imagination graphics will have more luck.

          • nico1982
          • 5 years ago

          Intel didn’t have a meaningful share in the tablet segment until very recently. I wouldn’t be surprised if most games on the store started development when x86 in the Android ecosystem was a novelty and support in the usual game frameworks, like Unity, was experimental at best.

          • tipoo
          • 5 years ago

          That’s an interesting idea. Geoff, shed some light please?

      • Dissonance
      • 5 years ago

      There’s a paragraph on gaming hidden in the discussion of native resolution benchmarks. Didn’t try Clash of Clans, but a bunch of other games played fine, with only occasional brief stutters in a couple of titles.

        • tipoo
        • 5 years ago

        There it is, thanks!

    • revparadigm
    • 5 years ago

    One other review I read said that because there is basically no space between the screen and the edge, except for the end where the speakers are…it almost forces you to treat it as a portrait view device. They also said in turn it makes it harder to use the camera on it, because you want to put your hand there.

    Did you experience any of this in the review, or was that a just this other reviewer’s pet peeves…or something?

    [url<]http://www.androidauthority.com/dell-venue-8-7000-android-tablet-review-587456/[/url<]

      • Dissonance
      • 5 years ago

      From the review…

      “Such skinny bezels make the Venue a little complicated to hold. The tablet is best grasped by its fat bottom lip, which can be pinched in both portrait and landscape orientations. Portrait works best for most tasks, I find, and the keyboard is especially easy to use when double-fisting in that mode. While a teenager would still smoke me in a thumb-typing contest, I can confidently bang out paragraphs on the Venue with surprising speed and relatively few typos.”

      “The front-facing HD camera is awkwardly placed in the lower left corner of the device’s bottom lip, resulting in a low, chin-heavy view when holding the tablet naturally in portrait mode. That’s if you manage to hold the thing without blocking the lens, which is difficult to do in that orientation.

      There are ergonomics issues with the rear-facing cameras, too. The main 8MP shooter is located at the bottom of the case, while its dual 720p sidekicks hang out a couple inches above. It’s nearly impossible to hold the tablet in portrait mode without obscuring at least one of those cameras. Switching to landscape orientation doesn’t help as much as one might expect, since the cameras are still on the opposite side of the tablet’s effective handle. Holding the tablet in an upside-down portrait config seems to work best.”

        • revparadigm
        • 5 years ago

        I’d down vote myself after spacing on that. Haah! Thanks, because I’m in the market for a new tablet and want to hear all the negatives too on new ones, besides the positive.

      • DarkMikaru
      • 5 years ago

      Thanks for posting this review. I’m glad to hear about the awkwardness of just holding the tablet. They bring up a very good point, it looks like it just doesn’t want to be held. Using the cameras looks to be a chore, but everything else about it is pretty solid. Maybe I’ll wait for the the Venue 8 2 😉

    • JAMF
    • 5 years ago

    “The panel appears to be the same as the one in Samsung’s Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4.”

    I guess that would need to be Galaxy Tab S 8.4, which has an OLED display. The Tab Pro is LCD, AFAIK.

      • Dissonance
      • 5 years ago

      That’s the one I meant. Fixed.

      • CaptTomato
      • 5 years ago

      Tab s is supaAMOLED.
      supaAMOLED is outstanding screen tech, but touchwiz is annoying.

    • Chrispy_
    • 5 years ago

    Yet another fine device suffering from anorexia. Moorefield is amazingly efficient yet rather than translate this efficiency into better battery life they’ve focussed on making it stupidly thin.

    Scott, you’re right to roll your eyes and call the pursuit of thinness “beyond the point of diminishing returns”….

    The 6mm thickness probably houses 2mm of glass, OLED panel and rear cover, which means the 4830mAh battery (good for merely a gaming-free 9 hour flight without WiFi at best) is only 4mm thick.

    Make it 8mm thick and there would be room for a 7250mAh battery
    Make it 9mm thick and there would be room for a 8450mAh battery
    Make it 10mm thick and there would be room for a whopping 9650 battery!

    Don’t get me wrong, it has good battery life compared to the ARM competition but if it had the same battery capacity of the ARM competition you could browse or read for [i<]days[/i<] without charge - you could even use it for gaming on a long flight or train journey. Nope. Some idiot decided that it had to be [i<]thinnest ever[/i<]. Award for most-anoxeric? Really? No thanks. How about an award for "most comfortable to hold" or "most likely to survive a weekend trip without the wall-wart"? Maybe this stupid fad will die out when someone finally releases a phablet/tablet that runs for a month on batteries like my Kindle does.

      • Welch
      • 5 years ago

      Agree 100%! My only thought is that maybe they are making them this thin knowing that eventually the new lithium batteries using new technology might be right around the corner.

      [url<]http://gizmodo.com/new-li-ion-batteries-charge-70-percent-in-2-minutes-la-1645721894[/url<] If this becomes a reality, not only can you charge it insanely fast, but it will hold a lot more charge than standard (current) lithium batteries. Couple that with increasing power efficeny (see thermal as well) and in a few generations of mobile devices we may be looking at week long+ devices without the need for charge. Again, I'm assuming that MAYBE just MAYBE these manufacturers are just getting them as small as they can now so that they have experience and existing chassis designs that can take advantage of this new technology.

      • Andrew Lauritzen
      • 5 years ago

      I agree but it’s already a $400 tablet that is near/at the top of the battery charts… you really think pushing it into ~$500 territory with the iPad Air 2 would be a good idea? Remember that thinness is not the only thing that drives reduction in battery capacities.

      And realistically there aren’t a ton of people that frequently do >9 hours flights with no power, game for a significant fraction of the day on a tablet, etc. I’m all for providing the option, but I’m not sure how much extra I’d pay beyond the ~10+ hour mark.

      • esterhasz
      • 5 years ago

      Yeah, would be great to have a version with a bigger battery.

      On the other hand, there are people like me who are hoping for some idiot to be even more stupid and release a version that’s got half the battery life but 50g-80g less. I use my tablet exclusively for reading PDFs, four hours per day tops and I’m in the market for the lightest device there is (while keeping screen size and a good SOC for smooth scrolling/panning). I have no issue with plugging the device in at night.

      If anything, I’d like to have a market that spreads out further and accommodates both your and my use case.

        • MadManOriginal
        • 5 years ago

        How light does it need to be though? Have you ever picked up a book of similar x-y dimensions and compared the weight?

          • esterhasz
          • 5 years ago

          That’s a great comparison. I tried it out and indeed, my books are not really lighter than the Nexus 7 I use now. I still find the book less stressful to hold though, and that may be because the fold allows for a wider variety of hand/arm positions. As is, I’d still like something lighter than the Nexus 7, but also with a bigger screen…

        • Chrispy_
        • 5 years ago

        [quote<]If anything, I'd like to have a market that spreads out further and accommodates both your and my use case.[/quote<] I think this is it, actually. There's so little choice it's somewhat alarming how shortsighted every manufacturer is being. It's probably just over-conservitism in the face of an uncertain tech market, but it's probably chicken-and-egg in that I'm not buying a device because there's not something to fit my usage case I have a phone which has to last all day, and does 80% of what a tablet does. Most days, it succeedes I'm not alone in having a phone that lasts all day and does 80% of what a tablet does. In fact I'd imagine that most people interested in a tablet have a phone that lasts all day and does 80% of what a tablet does. I don't really have a tablet, because I have a phone and the tablets on the market are too similar to my phone to be of any real benefit to me. If a tablet could be my compact, high-stamina device for a whole weekend (Friday evening to Monday morning) it would do things my phone can't. If it could game for an extended period without dying and being a deadweight until my next wall-outlet stopover, it would be something my phone is not. NONE of the tablets on the market are anything other than larger smartphones, both in terms of battery life and in terms of features. Everyone has a phone already, so my advice to tablet makers is to stop trying to sell us slightly larger phones and give us a device that is truly different enough to a phone to justify owning both.

    • sweatshopking
    • 5 years ago

    with windows x86 and an proper stylus support i’d be interested. Dell seems to be doing quite well. I’d love to see your review of the new xps 13 that’s getting accolades all over the place.

      • Stochastic
      • 5 years ago

      I don’t mean to derail the thread, but I purchased the XPS 13 a few weeks ago. So far I’m loving it. The touchpad isn’t as great as a lot of reviews say, and battery life is about 50-70% of what Dell’s claiming, but for the money I think you’ll be hard pressed to find anything better (especially if you get it with a $100 off coupon as I did). The build quality is fantastic IMO, the display is very good (I have the 1080p model), and the 5.2 mm thick bezels are lovely. Even the speakers are decent. A few more caveats though: the fan does tend to spool up quite a bit when plugged in, but this behavior can be changed using Dell’s Power Manager software. Also, there appears to be a firmware-level adaptive brightness that subtly changes the screen brightness depending on the screen content. In practice I don’t find this all that annoying, but I know some people are driven mad by this.

        • NeelyCam
        • 5 years ago

        How’s the touchpad on XPS13? Does two-finger scrolling work well consistently?

          • Stochastic
          • 5 years ago

          In my opinion it works decently well, but I’ve never owned a Mac, so I can’t compare to the gold standard. I’ve heard a lot of people complaining about it on forums though, so it’s something I recommend trying out in person. Everyone has different standards.

            • NeelyCam
            • 5 years ago

            [quote<]it's something I recommend trying out in person.[/quote<] Where can I try Dell XPS 13 in person? Does Best Buy have them...?

      • Pancake
      • 5 years ago

      Agree. Hardware looks beautiful but I don’t want that Android crap. My 2012 Nexus 7 has been rendered unusable with the latest Lollipop upgrade from Google. Never again.

        • raddude9
        • 5 years ago

        My 2012 Nexus 7 works great with Lollipop, it’s given the tablet a new lease of life. I did notice that you need to have about 2GB of space free though, it seems to chug along if you have less, perhaps your tablet is too full?

      • trackerben
      • 5 years ago

      Same here but ARM intead of x86 Windows just to avoid malware plague.

      • Norphy
      • 5 years ago

      Sounds to me that you want a Venue 8 Pro then. The screen is somewhat low rent (only 1280×800 sadly) compared to this one but other than that, it’s pretty similar and has what you want with the stylus and Windows x86 support.

        • sweatshopking
        • 5 years ago

        I have used that device extensively, but I think dell seems to be doing better since going private. I’d like to see a newer take on that now 1.5 year old device.

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