In the battle for tablet supremacy, one thing iOS users have always had over Android is the premium feel of their products. For every new iteration of Apple’s sleek, aluminium unibody iPad, there have been dozens of cheap, plasticky Android tablets that justify their lower build quality with a comparatively cheap price.
But now, as the Android operating system has caught up with iOS - and even surpassed it in some areas - it makes sense that Android manufacturers would look towards the premium market. Leading the way is Dell with the Venue 8 7000, hands-down the best Android tablet I’ve ever come across.
The most noticeable feature when you pick up the Venue 8 is its unconventional design. Unlike a lot of tablets which prefer a wholly symmetrical look with as little to distract from the screen as possible, Dell have given one of the short sides over to a front-facing speaker and camera housed in the same aluminium frame which wraps around the back.
This breaks up the real estate on the front of the device so often completely encompassed by a glass screen and is a little unusual at first, but the more I used it the more it made sense.
The aluminium section on the front of the device functions as a nice hand-hold - although you’ll likely be muffling the speaker a little - and actually prevents you from some unsightly finger smears, the bane of glossy glass screens.
And what a screen the Venue 8 has. The 8.4 inch OLED sparkles, great for watching hi-def video or displaying the latest games. The camera and speaker housing on one side of the tablet also frees up the rest of the front for maximum screen space, allowing an almost edge-to-edge display with mere millimetres of black bezel. It really is a pleasure to look at.
The quality of the screen extends to the entire device, which is slightly heavier than most of its Android counterparts, but the aluminium and glass construction (its feel reminded me most of the iPhone 5) translates to a nice, premium heft rather than feeling cumbersome.
As for the innards, the Venue 8 runs the Intel Atom processor which keeps everything humming pretty smoothly. Streaming HD video was on par with any other recent device I’ve seen, and despite the metal body it didn’t seem to heat up even while playing 3D games for a decent length of time.
The device I tested had a somewhat disappointing 16GB internal memory, but the addition of a now rare microSD slot should alleviate any concerns about storage.
Dell has its own suite of apps pre-installed, which may be of some use to people already invested in the Dell ecosystem but will likely be deactivated or ignored by most.
There’s a unique three-camera set-up on the back which allegedly adds depth to your photos, but even under very good light the effect was negligible. That said, for a tablet the photo quality was top-notch - just don’t expect to do any great 3D modelling.
If you’re looking for an Android tablet and you’re not concerned about spending a little more cash, the Dell Venue 8 7000 is a fantastic choice - a device that is sure to turn heads but has features to match its good looks.