Dell Venue 8 (2014) Review

Summary and Conclusion

Performance Summary: Dell’s Venue 8 (which can be found as low as $179 without any accessories) joins a crowded market. By all accounts, this Merrifield-equipped version is a significant upgrade from the initial Venue 8. Overall performance improvements, plenty of gaming prowess, and a beautiful new HD IPS display are appreciated assets, and all are pretty unique on a slate this affordable. That said, competition looms. With the Nexus 9 soon to be a factor, some may favor waiting it out to see what the near future brings, albeit at a potentially higher price point. While the Venue 8 is built rigid and durable, and the wireless charging is a nice touch, the software experience leaves a bit to be desired. A bit of lag and occasional app incompatibilities aren't unavoidable, likely in part due to the device having just 1GB of RAM.

The Venue 8's design is what you’d expect given the price point. It’s a bit on the heavy side, but the extra heft makes it more durable perhaps, for kids and for everyday use. It’s also nice to find Miracast compatibility on a tablet in this price point, but a few of our favorite video streaming apps (MLB At Bat, notably) wouldn’t install on the device at all. However, those that did (WatchESPN) streamed well despite taking a few seconds to launch.

On the software side, it’s great to see the latest edition of Android (KitKat) on-board with minimal bloatware, but there's no guarantee that the impending Android L release will run on the Venue 8. The Merrifield processor makes it possible for mid-range 3D titles to run smoothly, but simple tasks (asking the keyboard to pop up and back when filling out an online form, for example) can sometimes take longer than they should. With that said, small niggles like this are common with sub-$200 tablets.

All told, the Venue 8 is a solid device that punches above its weight class given its price, though it won’t redefine the segment. Dell has thrown a few nice extras onto the Venue 8, but at $179, it can occasionally feel a touch under-powered--again though, this is the norm for tablets in this market segment. If you're looking for a tablet with more horsepower, you're going to have to justify the upside cost.  If, however, you're looking for a quality slate that gets the job done and offers some pretty strong gaming chops, the Venue 8 3840 is definitely worth considering. At its affordable price point, we feel the Venue 8 3840 is deserving of an Editor's Choice, due to its good build quality and battery life, support for 802.11ac WiFi, and excellent, Full HD display.

  • Sub-$200 price point, great value
  • Durable, kid-friendly exterior
  • Intel Merrifield CPU
  • Solid gaming and content streaming performance
  • Spectacular HD display
  • Performance can suffer with lots of multitasking
  • Limited internal storage but microSD exapandable
  • Limited spots of app incompatibility

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