The Dell Venue 7 Android tablet sounds like a good idea on paper, but a nice piece of hardware with a good price for a 7-inch Android tablet gets hampered by sluggish performance, even after a much-needed firmware update that improved things a little.
Dell produced a winner with the Dell Venue 8 Pro Windows tablet, so it seemed natural to expect the same level of quality in the Dell Venue 7 Android tablet. Dell offers this tablet at a great price. The $150 cost makes it competitive, since the Nexus 7 with the same 16GB storage option costs $229. The Venue 7 runs Android 4.4.4 as well, so it should appeal to budget Android tablet buyers. Unfortunately, there’s a significant trade-off for the $80 price savings.
The Dell Venue 7, like the Dell Venue 8 Android tablet just reviewed here at GottaBeMobile, is for tablet buyers on a budget who want something that’s so portable that some users could even slide it in their pockets.
Dell Venue 7 Design
At first glance, without seeing the circular textured design and Dell logo on the back, the Dell Venue 7 could pass for a Google Nexus 7. Dell didn’t try to create a piece of engineering art, opting for a plain vanilla design.
The screen on the Dell Venue 7 measures 7 inches, like the Google Nexus 7. It’s a 1280×800 resolution screen, making it one of the lower resolution tablets available. The color and brightness of the screen looks okay. Power users won’t enjoy it, but that’s not who buys a cheap tablet like this.
The tablet comes with a wider than ideal black front bezel and rounded back edges. The textured ridged circular design on back gives the tablet some grip when carrying it without a case.
The Venue 7 isn’t the thinnest tablet we’ve seen at 9.55mm thick, but it’s also not a behemoth. The tablet weighs less than .7lbs and measures 4.65″ wide by 7.6″ tall.
It feels sturdy, if not extremely durable. It should hold up well to normal usage.
The back cover comes off the tablet, something we learned unexpectedly when trying to remove the case Dell sent over. It snapped back on without issue.
Dell Venue 7 Ports and Connections
The micro-USB port used to charge the tablet sits along the top left edge, just above the volume up/down buttons. That’s an unusual place that experienced tablet users will need to get used to when plugging in.
Along the right edge there’s a micro-SD card slot with a place where a wireless data SIM card could go if it supported it. At this price, we’re not surprised it’s not there.
The lone speaker sits on the bottom edge. A screen power button, mic hole, and headphone jack sit on the top edge.
Performance & Software
Dell gives us Android 4.4.4 Kitkat, which puts a check mark in the plus column. It offers a very stock Kitkat feel, which fans of the operating system will love. Unfortunately, that’s where the joy ends due to the sluggish performance.
Upon first booting the device, things seemed okay, but the speed of the user interface slows down over time. Dell pushed out an update during our review period that improved things a little. At first, the tablet seemed almost speedy, but after opening a few apps it slowed down. This isn’t an isolated issue with just this model. The 8-inch version we already reviewed also bogged down.
On the positive side, there’s not a load of crapware pre-installed to get in the way. We get a few things, like most of Amazon’s Android mobile apps and a useful Dell audio tool that lets the user change their settings based on what they’re doing with the tablet: like listening to music or playing games. Like most Android tablets, they installed Polaris Office.
Most people want a 7-inch tablet for…
- Entertainment like movies, music, and games
- Reading books, email, documents and Internet
- Social networking
- Professional tools with special apps specific to their careers
- Creating content, like editing video or images and writing documents, spreadsheets or creating presentations
- Showing off images, presentations
Users can do most of these things with the tablet, but can’t do too much at one time. A Venue 7 owner will want to find an app that lets them clear out the device’s memory by shutting down background running apps.
While watching a movie, the video paused to buffer the streaming video and one time Google Play Movies and TV crashed while watching Gravity after only a few minutes. That’s happened on every device I’ve ever tested at least once or twice. However, it’s hard to think it’s related to the performance of the Dell Venue 7.
Camera & Speakers
Since Dell only put one speaker on the Dell Venue 7 tablet, users will expect it play sound loud enough to use without headphones. Like nearly all the tablets and cell phones we test, the speaker is adequate at best. People who want quality sound should look into a pair of headphones or the nice Dell AD211 Portable Bluetooth battery-powered speakers.
It pairs up with Bluetooth and sounds good for a small battery-powered speaker. The speaker costs $45 at Dell. Features the buyer get include a hands free phone feature and an auxiliary stereo input. It charges up with a micro-USB charger. Use the one that came with the tablet.
The front of the Venue 7 includes a 1MP camera, mostly for video conferencing (see below). The back camera (see above) bumps the spec to 5MP. It’s a decent camera for taking a quick snapshot or scanning documents. Most people don’t use a tablet for photography, but they often will snap a photo of a document or the whiteboard in a classroom or boardroom.
Don’t expect great photos using this camera. It will shoot video but it looks a little grainy. Here’s a few samples to let readers judge for themselves if the camera measures up to their standards.
Value and Recommendation
The lack of bloatware, decent screen and the latest version of Kitkat makes the Dell Venue 7 tempting. Hopefully it will get Android L soon after Google updates their OS. Finally, the battery life is competitive with other smaller tablets in this price-range. However, the sluggish performance and wide bezel on the front make it run and look like a $150 tablet. Buyers should take a look at the Google Nexus 7 or the LG G Pad before buying a Dell Venue 7 Android tablet. The LG G Pad costs the same price on Amazon as the Dell Venue 7 3000 series. You can get the Nexus 7 for just $200 at Amazon.
Dell also sells a hard rubber case that comes in multiple colors. The Dell Duo Tablet Case offers extra protection for about $23.
People who use a tablet with one app at a time might enjoy this small, light, inexpensive tablet. However, power users, business users and people who want excellent performance for multimedia or gaming, should look elsewhere.
- 7-inch IPS display (1920 x 1200)
- 1.6GHz Intel Atom Z34760 Dual-Core Processor
- 1GB of RAM
- 16GB of storage (10GB Usable)
- 802.11 AC + Miracast + Bluetooth 4.0
- 1 megapixel font-facing camera & 5 megapixel rear-facing camera
- Android 4.4.4 KitKat
- micro-SD and option LTE SIM Card
- 1 headphone jack, 1 micro-USB port
- 118mm x 193mm x 8.95mm – 290 grams
- 10watt AC adapter
- 8-9 hours of battery life