Dell Venue 8 7840 review
Processor: Quad-core 2.33GHz Intel Atom Z3580, Screen size: 8.4in, Screen resolution: 2,560x1,600, Rear camera: 8 megapixels, Storage: 16GB, Wireless data: None, Size: 216x6.1x124mm, Weight: 305g, Operating system: Android 4.4.4
We haven't seen many Android tablets from Dell; the company's last attempt, the Venue 8 Android, was highly competent but hardly set our hearts aflutter with its design. The Venue 8 7840 is a different kettle of fish. It's a truly desirable Android tablet, with a gorgeous slim aluminium chassis and a super-high-resolution AMOLED display.
At just 6.1mm thick, the metal chassis is cool to the touch, and the rounded corners don't dig into your hands. The screen has slim bezels on three sides, but the bottom bezel is significantly larger. This is where you'll find two of the tablet's party tricks: incredibly loud "MaxxAudio" speakers and three cameras for Intel's RealSense depth aware photo tech.
RealSense uses three cameras to measure depth in your photos. This gives you access to some fancy effects, such as selective focus, the ability to apply effects to certain areas of the photo, and even to measure the length and area of various objects in the frame.
The main camera sits right at the bottom of the tablet, with the two depth cameras above it. This immediately causes a problem, as your hand will most likely obscure the camera whether you hold the tablet to take a photo in portrait or in landscape mode. We found the best way to take a photo was to grip the tablet with our fingertips, but this meant we obscured some of the screen while composing photos.
The camera's basic image quality didn’t blow us away: daylight images showed accurate contrast but significant noise, and elsewhere noise reduction led to some smudginess. Low-light photos were nothing special either, and we had a lot of trouble getting a sharp, shake-free shot under indoor lighting.
Well-judged contrast, but photos are noisy and lack detail
However, we had some fun with the camera's depth sensors. Once you take a photo, you can use the app to make adjustments using the depth information captured by the secondary sensors (you have to drop out of the camera app to select an image to edit, rather than being able to get on with it as soon as you've taken the photo, which is annoying). We particularly liked the ability to drain colour from an image depending on how far objects were from the camera; we turned a group of three people with one standing slightly behind the other into two people and a ghostly black and white apparition.
Selective focus works well enough, but apply too much of the effect and you will see significant artefacts around the edge of the subject you have chosen to keep in focus. Edits are non-destructive, as the original image is kept in the tablet's DCIM folder. Distance judging wasn't quite up to scratch, however. In one test photo, the camera was convinced that a toy samurai warrior one foot from the camera was taller than a person standing eight feet away, which rather messed up the artistic effect we were trying to achieve.
The camera seems to think the Samurai is the same distance from the camera as the lady with the cup, which rather spoilt the effect we were aiming for
The measurement tool is potentially very useful. It can measure the distance between two points or the area of an object, so could be handy for anything from working out someone's height to seeing if the sofa you fancy in DFS will fit through your door. Unfortunately, we had mixed results, and couldn't find a way to measure in metric rather than imperial units. We managed to accurately measure a person when they were standing bolt upright, but a 12-inch ruler was around three inches out, and one side of a painting was twice as long as another. It's generally an impressive system, but it relies on the application of common sense and should only be used to get an idea of measurements.
This 12-inch ruler was only a couple of inches out...
...but "Brian Blessed punching a polar bear" appears to be nearly twice as long on one side as the other