In the closing months of 2013, we’ve seen tremendous growth—at least in terms of the sheer number of products—in the market for compact Android tablets (that is, models with 7-to-9-inch displays). It’s to the point, it seems, that we’re reviewing a new one every week or two. Some, such as the 2013 refresh of the Google Nexus 7, are fast and aspire to elegance. Others, such as HiSense’s’ Sero 7 LT‘ and HP’s’ Slate 7, are no-pretenses budget models.
That second group—budget-priced compact tablets—is where the model we’re looking at here, Dell’s $149.99-list Venue 7, fits in. Like several like-priced, no-frills budget slates we’ve looked at lately (notably Asus’ $149.99-list’ MeMO Pad HD 7 and HiSense’s $149.99-list’ Sero 7 Pro), the Venue 7 is light, thin, and attractive, and it performed reasonably well on our benchmark tests given its price. It’s fast enough to perform most tasks comfortably,’ though not an ideal pick for the most resource-intensive Android games.
In addition, the Venue 7 turned in one of the shortest unplugged runtimes in our battery-rundown test we’ve seen in some time—as much as three to eight hours behind some other compact models. We’ll talk more about this tablet’s battery life in the Battery Life & Conclusion section later on.
Our review package contained the Venue 7 alone, equipped with 16GB of internal storage, for $149.99 list. However, Dell offers some interesting bundles on its Web site. You can, for example, choose the Venue 7 with a Targus stylus for $159.99, or a “Venue 7 + Essentials Bundle” for $199.99, which includes the Targus stylus and‘ a 32GB SanDisk MicroSD card, which boosts the onboard storage capacity from 16GB to 48GB.
In addition to the Venue 7, Dell also offers the Venue 8, an 8-inch-screened version of the tablet. It sells in a set of bundles parallel to its smaller sibling’s: a stand-alone Venue 8 version for $179.99; with a stylus for $189.99; and a $229.99 Essentials 8 Bundle with a stylus and a 32GB memory card.
We should also point out that the Venue 8 has a slightly faster (2GHz) Atom processor than the Venue 7’s (1.6GHz), which should, theoretically anyway, make for a slightly faster slate. Also, don’t confuse the Venue 8 with the Venue 8 Pro, which is a full-on Windows 8 tablet. (Hit the link for our review of that one.) In any case, nothing about either Android version, the 7- or 8-inch, is particularly ground-breaking. In fact, the Venue 7 is, for the most part, just another entry-level compact Android tablet. It brings little new to the conversation. At $150, it’s one of the cheaper compact tablets we know of, but certainly not the cheapest. And that’s our main quibble with this tablet: We couldn’t find a compelling reason to recommend it over the other 7-inch Androids out there in its price class.
That said, given the price, we couldn’t find any reason’ not‘ to recommend it, either, for first-time buyers, as a second slate for the family, or perhaps as an inexpensive tablet for a child. Given its comparably priced competitors, though, we’d like the Venue 7 a lot more at $129, or perhaps even a bit less.
See entire review at Computer Shopper.