Event Coverage

Hands-on with the Dell Venue 8 7000 tablet

By Salehuddin Bin Husin - 12 Mar 2015

Hands-on with the Dell Venue 8 7000 tablet

 The Dell Venue 8 7000 ultra thin tablet comes in only one configuration.

Last night, we posted a news piece about the local launch of the Dell Venue 8 7000 tablet and promised that a more detailed hands-on piece was coming. Well, here it is.

But before we get going, here's a recap of the specifications of the tablet.

  • 8.4-inch WQXGA (2,560 x 1,600 pixels resolution) OLED display
  • Intel Atom Z3580 processor (2.3GHz, 2MB cache)
  • CPU built-in graphics (powered by Imagination's PowerVR G6430 graphics engine)
  • 16GB of built in storage (up to 512GB microSD card support)
  • 802.11ac (1x1) Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0
  • Comes with Android 4.4 (KitKat), is upgradable to Android 5.0 (Lollipop) now
  • RealSense 3D Cameras (720p x 2), 2MP front facing camera, 8MP rear camera
  • MaxxAudio suite by Waves
  • 124.4 x 215.8 x 6.0mm
  • 306 grams
  • 21Wh battery

The first thing we noticed when handling the Dell Venue 8 7000 tablet was how thin it is. We thought that it might be a bit flimsy, but Dell's choice of using anodized aluminium for the tablet's chassis made it feel sturdy, with no noticeable flex, despite its relatively thin profile.

The only input ports for the tablet are located at the top; an audio jack and a micro-USB port.

The volume and power buttons are on the top left of the tablet.

The unused SIM card slot's near the bottom of the machine. It also doubles as the microSD card slot. The local versions don't have LTE support and Dell currently has no plans on bringing the LTE version in.

In our hands, the tablet felt light as a feather. No doubt it's because it only weighs 306g and is as thin as a slim notepad . Android apps launched were responsive and the tablet's ulltra high resolution made sure the tablet displayed everything sharp with vibrant colors.

Here's the front facing camera.

The Dell Venue 8 7000 tablet is rather different from most tablets with its camera placements. The default position for the tablet has the front facing camera below the screen, instead of at the top. Basically, with reference to the shot above, the entire tablet was placed upside down. We were a bit surprised at this unusual configuration and asked Dell representatives whether the camera is protected by special glass, but they told us that it's using the same type of material as the touchscreen, which had us a bit worried about accidental scratches.

You can see how the tablet is supposed to be held in the Dell promo slides.

Other than the ultra think profile of the tablet, the main draw of the Dell Venue 8 7000 is of course Intel's RealSense 3D technology and its accompanying cameras to support that function. We've seen them in action last year at Intel's Future Showcase Event and we were pretty impressed by what we saw, so we were hyped to finally see them in commercial products.

The RealSense technology needs three cameras to work, which is why the 8MP camera is paired with two 720p cameras.

The Intel RealSense technology takes stereoscopic (3D) pictures, which means one camera won't cut it. A single camera will only generate a flat 2D image. To get a true 3D image, the Dell Venue 8 7000 has twin 720p cameras (noticeable in the middle of the photo above) to complement the 8MP camera at the bottom of the tablet. You can still take a conventional 2D picture with the 8MP camera only, so there's no need to panic if 3D images aren't your thing.

Dell gives some examples of what the 3D images can be used for.

Using the RealSense 3D cameras are a snap. Just toggle the 3D setting in the camera view and then take a picture as you would normally. Then you wait. If there's a weak link in all of this, it's the waiting. The Dell representative explained to us that the waiting was due to the extra data provided with a 3D image, which meant more time needed to render the output. Better hardware will cut down on waiting time, but right now, it's a wait of about 5 or so seconds after every 3D picture taken. After the image is rendered, you can view it as you would of any standard photo. 3D images are all rendered in regular JPEG format so any image reader will have no trouble reading them. Regular viewers will only see a 2D image though; to view it in 3D you'll need custom software to recognize the 3D data embedded in the files. No such commercial software exists yet though, which brings us to a major peeve we have. You can't really do much with the images since there aren't any apps (outside of Dell's proprietary Dell Gallery) that can use the 3D images generated by the RealSense cameras. In the future, 3D manipulation of the images will be possible in design software, as well as other uses and experiences but right now, the use of RealSense 3D technology is frustratingly limited.

For now though, only the Dell Gallery app on the tablet makes use of Intel's RealSense 3D technology. Dell Gallery is an app that allows users to edit photos, with refocus and filtering functions. The software is also able to perform facial recognition, enabling Facebook tagging of people simply by their facial features. Dell Gallery enables users to view images from a host of different sites in one place, sorted in various categories. We saw this in action and it worked pretty well. It goes without saying that people who take a lot of photographs and are actively posting them on social networking sites will get a lot more mileage out of this than others. Facial recognition works pretty well too, although only with RealSense 3D pictures. Dell Gallery will not recognize faces on images taken without a 3D camera so you can only filter via facial recognition when you have a sizable collection of 3D pictures.

The other thing we saw the camera being used for was measurements.

Select any two points on an image and the software will tell you the distance. Right now it's using the Imperial measurement system (feet and inches) but Dell is working on an update to allow users to toggle between Imperial and Metric systems.

To allow really precise measurements, you can zoom in and pinpoint exactly where you want to measure.

If you have multiple points selected on the image, you can toggle between measuring the individual distance or the area inside the points.

Overall, we were pretty impressed with Dell's new tablet but were a bit letdown by what RealSense 3D technology allowed at this point of time. There's so much potential there but without suitable apps to make use of it, it's nothing more than just a fancy camera. That's why we're eagerly anticipating more apps to come out to see what the technolgy can really do for consumers. As it stands now, the camera and technology allows capturing depth information to form a depth map for every photo taken, which enables actual measurement of objects and refocusing images (similar effect as Lytro's light field digital camera) via Dell's Gallery application. These new capabilities open up more creative ways to use the tablet and interact with their photos. And as an Intel technology, it's likely to interest more developers to come up with apps that could use these capabilities in new ways.

Once we nab a proper test unit, we'll share more details of the unit's performance through a full review of the Dell Venue 8 7000 tablet. Till then if you're interested in getting one for yourself, the tablet is already in stores now, on sale at S$659 with the Dell Venue Folio or S$699 with the Dell Venue Keyboard Folio. To have an idea how these accessories differ, you can take quick peek at them over here. As a closing reminder, the Dell Venue 8 7000 tablets sold here aren't the LTE variants and Dell currently has no plans to bring those over to local shores.

Join HWZ's Telegram channel here and catch all the latest tech news!
Our articles may contain affiliate links. If you buy through these links, we may earn a small commission.