We were fairly impressed with the Dell
Venue 7 and Venue 8 which we reviewed almost exactly a year ago. Dell
has only just decided to get serious about the Android tablet world, and
despite some flaws, the first two Venue models were pretty good for
their asking prices. In the time since then, Dell has launched an
updated model in India. These were first shown off at Computex 2014, and
are currently available in our market.
The big new thing this
time is the inclusion of voice calling. A lot of people feel that if
you're going to have a SIM card for cellular data, you might as well be
able to make and receive voice calls. On the other hand, there's the
staggering impracticality of holding a 7-inch tablet up to your face or
plugging in a headset every single time the phone rings. Dell has left
the choice up to the buyer, and so versions of the 2014 Venue 7 (and
Venue 8) with and without voice and data are available. We have the
voice-enabled 2014 Dell Venue 7 in for review today.
Look and feel
is a pretty slick-looking tablet. Its black plastic and rubber finish
is definitely less premium than that of Apple's iPad mini lineup, but at
least you don't require a protective case. The first thing you'll
notice is the bold concentric circle pattern on the back. It looks good
and helps you grip the body even when using it with one hand - the only
minor drawback is that particles of dust and lint tend to get trapped in
With the screen off, the front face is totally
blank. The only thing helping you orient the tablet is a prominent
cutout for the front-facing camera right in the centre above the screen.
It's worth noting that there is no earpiece on the front for making
voice calls with, and no headset in the box either.
navigation buttons are all on-screen. The power button and headset
socket are on top, with the Micro-USB port and volume buttons on the
upper left. A fairly prominent speaker grille is on the bottom. The
Micro-SIM and microSD card slots are hidden under a neat rubber flap on
the right edge.
The primary camera, centered near the top of the
rear panel, sits on a raised bump. This means that the tablet rocks a
bit if you try using it when it's lying on a table. Dell for some reason
chose to print all its regulatory information on a black sticker on top
of the grooved rear surface, which is the only thing that mars the
Venue 7's looks.
The device can't be opened, but we did find a bit
of flex in one corner where the rear shell curves around to meet the
front face. The front face also picks up fingerprints and smudges like
Specifications and software
Dell has continued using
Intel's Atom CPUs in its tablets, and the new Venue 7 is powered by an
Atom Z3460, which is a dual-core, 64-bit processor running at speeds
between 1.06GHz and 1.60GHz.
The screen still has a resolution of
800x1280, though part of it will almost always be occupied by a band for
the soft navigation buttons. This isn't the sharpest screen around, but
it's good enough for reading books, surfing the Web, playing games and
watching videos on. The primary camera has a 5-megapixel sensor and no
flash, while the one in front only has a 1-megapixel sensor.
1GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage space. MicroSD cards of up to
64GB are supported. The Dell Venue 7 (2014) comes with Wi-Fi b/g/n/ac
and Bluetooth 4.0. 4G LTE is not supported on the bands used in India,
so you're limited to 3G speeds. The battery is rated at 4,550mAh.
ships the Venue 7 (2014) with nearly-stock Android 4.4. It should feel
familiar to anyone who has used an Android phone or tablet before, and
in fact in some places, such as the black app drawer and camera app, it
feels quite dated. There are a few customisations, most notably
WavesAudio optimisation and its accompanying app. You can toggle between
movie, music, voice and game modes using a widget in the notifications
There's also a card scanner and contacts syncing app calld
CamCard, a photo editing app called Skitch, Dropbox, Polaris Office,
Pocketcloud, and Dell Cast, which mirrors your tablet's screen to an
external one if you happen to have a compatible adapter.
Dell Venue 7 (2014) performed quite well in all our benchmarks and we
noticed a massive leap in performance between last year's model and this
one. The Quadrant score jumped from 7,698 to 10,338 and the AnTuTu
score from 19,094 to 30,429 (though these scores aren't entirely
comparable as AnTuTu has been updated since then). The frame rate in
GFXBench improved from 13fps to a very solid 32fps, and 3DMark's Ice
Storm Extreme rose from 3,643 to 8,935. SunSpider's score improved
slightly from 986ms to 958.1ms. It seems that Intel's latest generation
of Atom processors shows much greater improvement in the graphics
subsystem than the CPU.
(Click to see full size)
The screen was much improved, compared to
last year's model. Reading long documents did not pose any problem, and
colours were generally vibrant except when the device was used under
direct sunlight. The Venue 7 (2014) played our heaviest sample video
clips without any trouble. The speaker is loud and mostly clear. Battery
life was also impressive, with the device lasting 7 hours, 9 minutes in
our video loop test.
We wouldn't usually pick up a tablet when
we need to take photos, but the Dell Venue 7 (2014) actually surprised
us with decent image quality. Images were far more detailed than those
taken with last year's model. Even so, you're more likely to get a
better picture with a low-end smartphone camera, especially in low
Although Dell happily sells the Venue 7
(2014) as a voice-enabled tablet, it really seems as though the company
has treated calling as an afterthought. There are plenty of other 7-inch
devices, such as Asus' FonePad (Review | Photos) and Samsung's Galaxy Tab series which
are more suited for voice calling. At his price level even the
first-generation Wi-Fi-only iPad mini is an alternative worth
considering despite its age.
LTE data should have been this
product's biggest selling point, but that isn't possible in India.
Still, performance is pretty good, especially for casual games and Web
surfing, and build quality far outshines that of similar products from
smaller brands. As such, Rs. 14,999 seems like a little too much for
this device. If you can live without cellular data, the Wi-Fi-only
version offers better value at Rs. 11,999.