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While some manufacturers have focused their efforts on a narrow range of products, Dell seems to have taken the opposite approach. The Venue line of Dell tablets features something for just about everyone, ranging from extra-large Windows tablets to diminutive Android-powered budget devices.
On the smaller end of the spectrum are the Venue 7 and Venue 8, seven- and eight-inch Android slates with a clear aim toward affordability.
Dell Venue 7
At 7.6-by-4.65-by-0.38 inches and 0.69 pounds, the Dell Venue 7 is the smallest tablet in Dell’s catalog. The slightly chunky design is decidedly uninteresting, though some may find the simple, conservative look appealing compared to tablets with a bold, ultra-glossy design.
Construction quality is solid, which is something that can’t be said about some other budget tablets. It feels comfortable to hold, and there’s only a modest amount of flex in the tablet’s body.
The Dell Venue 7 hits shelves running a largely unmodified, somewhat outdated Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean. It’s packing modest hardware under the hood, with a dual-core 1.6-gigahertz Intel Atom Z2560 processor and two gigabytes of RAM. It’s surprising to see an Intel processor in an Android device, but the Venue 7 performs adequately well.
The display is nothing to write home about at 1,280-by-800 pixels, but overall image quality is fair and the IPS panel offers great viewing angles. As with the hardware and display, battery life is only average.
Dell Venue 8
Comparing tablets with its smaller sibling, the Dell Venue 8 looks virtually identical. It certainly won’t grab much attention, but it’s reasonably sleek and inoffensive. It’s similarly comfortable to hold thanks to a grippy soft-touch backing, and the construction quality offers no reason to complain.
At 8.34-by-5.1-by-0.38 inches, the Venue 8 is of average size compared to tablets in its class. It’s considerably heavier than the competition at 0.77 pounds, but it’s not a major issue.
The Venue 8 benefits from an upgraded processor over the Venue 7, pairing a 2.0-gigahertz dual-core Intel Atom Z2580 chip with two gigabytes of RAM and 16 or 32 gigabytes of storage. It can’t compare to tablets with high-end processors, but the Venue 8 performs pretty well in everyday usage.
The 1,280-by-800 display is better than that used in the Venue 7, featuring improved color accuracy and a slight upgrade in brightness and contrast. It won’t be mistaken for any of its ultra-high resolution competitors, but it’s a great display for the price.
Comparison to Dell Venue 8 Pro
Compared to the Venue 7 and Venue 8, the most obvious difference offered by Dell’s Venue 8 Pro is the switch from Android to Windows 8.1. The Venue Pro also includes an active digitizer, and a moderately improved display.
The Venue Pro features a quad-core 1.83-gigahertz Intel Atom Z3740D processor, which is a significant step up from the dual-core Z2560 and Z2580. The performance still falls short compared to tablets with best-in-class hardware, but the Venue 8 Pro is clearly working with more horsepower than its siblings.
The decision between Dell’s Venue 7, 8, and 8 Pro models is largely one of price. The Venue 7 is appealing for its high degree of portability, but it’s outclassed in most respects by the similarly priced Venue 8.
The Venue 8 Pro offers beefier hardware, Windows 8.1 operating system and an active digitizer, but it’s also considerably more costly. For users who don’t require those features, the Venue 8 may offer the better value.