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Dell Venue 8 7000 series review – hands on

We get an early look at Dell's most desirable Android tablet yet, the stunning 8in Venue 8 7000

Dell might not be the brand you immediately associate with Android tablets, but that might be about to change thanks to the Venue 8 7000 series. Announced earlier this year at IDF in San Francisco, the ultra-slim tablet will be the world’s slimmest if Dell gets it on sale soon enough. We got the chance to put one through its paces ahead of launch, in order to bring you some first impressions.

The Venue 8 7000 is probably the sleekest Android device Dell has ever made; it’s only 6mm thick, with ultra-thin bezels around the spacious 8in display. Built from a magnesium alloy, it’s light enough to hold comfortably in one hand yet felt sturdy and rigid too. Despite having extremely thin display bezels, Dell has still made room on for front-facing speakers, developed in partnership with MAXaudio, and a front-facing webcam.

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It looks surprisingly sleek, although it’s slightly baffling that the etched Dell logo on the back of the tablet suggests you hold it so the camera sensors are at the bottom, rather than the top of the device. A Dell rep wasn’t able to tell us if this was a preproduction quirk, so we’ll keep an eye out for it in the final version.

Most of your attention will be drawn to the gorgeous display, at any rate, The 8in screen uses AMOLED technology to produce deep blacks and vibrant colours, while the super high 2,560×1,600 resolution ensures everything looks pin-sharp.

Inside, an Intel Moorefield quad-core Atom processor is paired with 1GB of RAM and 16GB of on-board storage. It should be fast enough for day-to-day Android tasks and most games, although we’ll have to wait until we get a final model in for review to see how it stacks up against the competition.

Running the stock version of Android 4.4 KitKat, there are no third party skins or user interface tweaks to slow the tablet down. Dell promised that Android 5.0 Lollipop was on the roadmap, but declined to set a specific date for release.

Beyond the processor, Dell has also turned to Intel to help with the Venue 8 7000’s camera. Using three 8-megapixel sensors on the rear of the device in conjunction with Intel’s Realsense technology, the tablet produces a depth map for every photo you take. This data can then be used to calculate distance, measure objects or work out surface area.

During our time with a pre-production tablet, the measurements we took weren’t exactly precise; it reported a teacup as being over a foot wide and a person’s shoulders as five feet apart, but Dell assured us these were merely bugs in the software that would be fixed before launch.

You can’t combine all three sensors to take high-resolution images; photos are capped at 8-megapixels. We weren’t able to judge picture quality based on our short time with the device, but with no LED flash it’s safe to assume its low-light photography skills will be limited.

Although Intel will be sharing this technology with other companies, a Dell representative told us that the Venue 8 7000 would be the first of its kind on the market and would be unchallenged until at least September 2015.

The Venue 8 7000 series should be going on sale from January onwards, although Dell has yet to settle on a price. Considering it’s using an 8in AMOLED display and three camera sensors, we’re expecting it to arrive at the high end of Android tablets.

We were impressed with what we saw during our brief hands-on, and will hopefully be bringing you a full review a little closer to launch.

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