Dell has picked a leading competitor and made a better product with its new Venue 8 7000 tablet. The 8.4-inch device runs the Android 4.4 operating system and has a stunning .23-inch thin OLED display. It’s a hair thinner than the iPad Mini and much faster, running a fast Intel Atom 2.3 GHz processor, and it’s packed with cutting-edge features for the same price.
The Intel RealSense Snapshot Depth Camera is a game-changer, and the Venue 8 is the only tablet that has one built-in. There are three cameras on the back, and you can change the focus of any image with a finger tap when you take a picture — say, focusing on the kids instead of your car. You can even measure objects. Shoot a picture of a deck rail, and you can find out how long it is. In a few cases, we snapped a photo beyond the range of the camera (from 3 to 16 feet), so a banana measured 12 feet long. In all seriousness, it’s an impressive feature.
Dell is also serious about the business market. Dell Cast is a thumbdrive-like device you connect to the HDMI port of a monitor or HD television. You can then mirror the tablet’s display wirelessly or even use the Dell Cast like an Android computer (if you add a keyboard and mouse). In our tests, Dell Cast worked a bit like MirraCast or the mirroring feature on a Kindle Fire phone. It’s a boon for salespeople running a presentation or for movie night.
The display is outstanding. The movie Lucy had colors and clarity unlike anything we’ve seen on a tablet screen, with no stuttering. The sound is loud and clear. Our only gripe is that the buttons are hard to find and the tablet can be slippery in your hands (we recommend the Dell Venue Keyboard Folio case for $89, which provides protection and a set of keys). The bottom line: It’s a brilliant machine, especially for something so thin. [From $399; dell.com]