- Beautiful display
- Great performance
- Cutting-edge camera
- Minimal internal storage
- Overly-slender bezels
- Slightly out-of-date OS
Quick TakeThe Dell Venue 8 7840 is unquestionably one of the best mid-size tablets on the market, thanks to its beautiful display, outstanding performance, and long battery life.
Many mid-size Android tablets are designed to be cheap. By contrast, Dell’s new Venue 8 7840, with its high-end display and cutting-edge camera, has been designed to go head to head with premium models like the iPad mini 3 and Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4.
So, how well does this model stack up against these competitors? And at $399, is it a better option than sub-$200 models? Read on to find out.
Build & Design
At 8.5 x 4.9 x 0.24 in., Dell claims this is the world’s thinnest 8-inch tablet; it’s definitely a very thin device, whether it sets a record or not.
With a weight of 0.67 pounds, it’s lightweight, but not to the point of being flimsy; it really feels solid, like the premium product it is.
The designers of the latest Venue 8 went for a compromise: The bezels around the screen are very thin on three sides, but users need something to hold, so the fourth side has a good-size gripping area. That said, the bezels on the other sides are so thin it takes a bit of practice using this tablet to keep from accidentally touching the screen when holding it.
Those slim bezels mean this Dell model can easily be held with a single hand, even by someone without particularly long fingers.
The edges are squared off, and so are the corners. The overall look is very professional. No one would be embarrassed to bring this to a board meeting, but as it comes only in basic black it might look a bit out of place at a slumber party.
The 8.4-inch display on the Venue 8 7840 is, in a word, spectacular. Partially this is because of the 2560 x 1600 resolution, giving an extremely high pixel density of 360 ppi. That beats the Apple iPad mini 3 at 326 ppi. Its pixels are so small and tightly-packed that HDTVs appear poor in comparison.
But the main reason Dell’s latest looks so amazing is it has an AMOLED display, not the usual LED. With this type, every pixel provides its own light, no backlight required. This gives a vividness of color that can’t be beat. The only mid-size tablet that can match it is the Galaxy Tab S, the first 8.4-inch AMOLED model.
But beware, as with many mid-size tablets, on-screen text can be a bit small. If you’re vision isn’t good, you might consider a full-size tablet, or just accept that reading glasses will often be necessary.
Buttons and Ports
Most tablet (and phone) makers have avoided front-facing speakers because they aren’t very attractive, but putting the speakers on the sides or back of a device isn’t the right way to get good sound. Dell put a large one of the front of this tablet, hoping the improved audio quality would make up for its appearance … which really isn’t that bad.
The microSD card slot on the Venue 8 7840 is unusual in that it is designed like a SIM card slot. This means that it requires a paperclip or something similar to open the slot; not a bad thing unless you switch out microSD cards very frequently. And there’s virtually no chance that a card will be accidentally ejected.
The Power button and Volume rocker are on the left side of the device when it’s held in portrait mode, rather than on the right. This is because Dell designed this tablet to be used horizontally with the speakers and webcam window to the left, which puts those button on the top edge.
A nice bonus feature is that just picking up this tablet will activate its screen: no need to press the Power button.