The Android tablet can be quite overwhelming, with choices from Dell, Asus, Lenovo, Acer, HTC and so many more brands you might never have heard of. The distinction between these brands shrinks even further as we get down into the budget price range, too.
This is roughly where the $199 (£179, about AU$227) Dell Venue 8 fits in. It's an inexpensive, albeit solid Android tablet that doesn't have any glitz and glam, but it gets the job done. What job is that? Well, any job you'd need an Android tablet for: web browsing, watching videos, answering e-mails and maybe some light document editing.
The Venue 8 is slim, lightweight and the battery lasts about seven to eight hours if you're using it consistently. Overall, you're getting your money's worth, but not much more.
Design and hardware
If you're looking for a bland, unassuming tablet, you've hit the money with the Dell Venue 8. It's a black slab made of glass and plastic, like so many other Android tablets. If you were to place the Venue 8 against similar tablets and have me stand 10 feet away from them, I wouldn't be able to pick it out from the crowd.
The display measures 8 inches diagonally. The device packs a 1,920 x 1,200 display, meaning that you're looking at a 16:10 aspect ratio, which is slightly unusual for tablets, most of which are 16:9 or 4:3. Regardless, it's a perfect size for me – not too small and not too large. (And I stand at 6 feet, 2 inches, with slightly larger-than-average hands.)
For those who prefer a slightly smaller slate, there is a 7-inch version, which is practically an identical tablet.
There is a 5MP camera on the rear with no flash, and a 2MP camera in front for self-portraits – I won't dare use that god-forsaken nonword – and video chatting. Neither camera is very sharp, but it's hard to imagine taking serious photos with an 8-inch tablet.
In terms of specs and all the innards, we're looking at an Intel Atom Z3480 chipset with a 2.1GHz, dual-core processor. There is 16GB of storage on board for storage, however you're only left with around 10GB to use due to the Android 4.4 KitKat size requirements. There is, however, microSD card support for up to 64GB additional storage, which is great if you want to add additional movies, music and photos to the tablet.
Around the edges, you'll find a speaker at the bottom, volume buttons on the right edge along with the memory card slot, and a power/standby button up top. The speaker, it's worth noting, is not all that great. The driver produces a tinny quality, and it's not very powerful. If you're watching videos or listening to music, I would highly recommend using headphones.
As far as the hardware goes, as I've mentioned before, there really isn't a standout feature here. It's a clean slate, a black slab that serves as nothing more than a portal to Android apps and multimedia. With that said, however, it feels sturdy and sleek – definitely not as if it was made cheaply.