After selling my 9.4-inch Sony Tablet S earlier this year, I’ve been on the hunt for a new tablet, preferably in the 8-inch range. I’ve thought about the Asus MeMo Pad 8, for instance, as well as the iPad mini 2 (with Retina). Last year’s Dell Venue 8 would have also been in the running if it were not stuck at Android 4.2. Addressing that concern and more is an updated model that they’re calling the new Dell Venue 8 3000 series. Depending on where you look the “3000 series” part might not even be mentioned, adding to some significant consumer confusion.

Returning to the Venue Again


The new Dell Venue 8 3000 series (specifically the Dell Venue 8 3840 tested here) remains fundamentally unchanged from the previous generation in terms of pure aesthetics. It’d be pretty easy to confuse this new tablet with the Windows 8-powered Dell Venue 8 Pro, aside from the visible operating system.

While no one is going to mistake this tablet for a high-end device, the overall design and build quality is admirable for a device that only costs $200. It feels solid in the hands, albeit at the cost of weighing more than I had expected. The outside is functional though not exactly inspiring.

Under the hood, however, you’ll find at least a few significant upgrades over the previous Venue 8 tablet. For starters, the 8.0-inch IPS display has been upgraded to FHD (1920×1200). You also get an Intel Atom Z3480 2.1GHz dual core processor and PowerVR G6400 graphics, though there is only 1GB of LP-DDR3 RAM here along with 16GB of internal storage (plus microSD slot). MaxxAudio Mobile technology, a 5MP rear camera, a 2MP front camera, Android 4.4 KitKat, Bluetooth 4.0 and 802.11ac Wi-Fi round out the package.

Getting a Grip on Things


In an age of increasingly shrinking bezels, part of me is a little disappointed that the black strips surrounding the 8-inch display are still so significant on the new Dell Venue 8. You’ll notice that they are far more substantial than what we see on the Galaxy Tab S 8.4, for example, not to mention the difference in screen quality (though the Samsung is twice the price).

Another part of me understands their utility. Coupled with the concentric circle grippy design on the back and a profile that is slightly thicker than many, the Venue 8 3000 Series can be conveniently held in one hand (particularly in a landscape orientation) while the other hand takes care of the screen tapping and swiping. That’s a plus.

Crashing the Stage


Perhaps we’ve been spoiled by what we are able to get out of contemporary flagship smartphones. We’ve come to expect at least two gigs of RAM and most of modern processors are at least of the quad core variety. The new Dell Venue 8 3000 series has neither of those going for it.

Based on my experience with this tablet over the course of a couple of weeks, overall performance felt lacking. Sure, it could swipe between screens of the app drawer with relative ease, but the actual apps themselves weren’t nearly as smooth as I’ve come to expect.

The Family Guy: The Quest for Stuff game kept hanging, freezing and crashing on me. I thought that it may have been a little too intensive, but even Plague Inc. had trouble now and then. I also had the odd experience of having the on-screen keyboard disappear on me while typing in a Google search and I could only get it to reappear by creating and closing a new Chrome tab. There’s something buggy here and the hope is that this can be addressed with a firmware update.

AnTuTu and 3DMark Ice Storm Benchmarks

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To test my real world experience against a quantitative benchmark, however synthetic it may be, I ran a couple of tests on this tablet. In the case of the AnTuTu Benchmark v5.3, the Venue 8 got scores in the 22,000 range, which places it a few steps up from last year’s Galaxy Tab 3. According to AnTuTu, this tablet should have a “good” CPU with “excellent” support for large apps and multitasking.

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The outcome in 3DMark’s Ice Storm Unlimited benchmark wasn’t as impressive with scores coming out in the 14,000 range. It’s not exactly a fair comparison, but this places the Venue 8 well below the Xperia Z3 Compact and the Galaxy Note 3. My suspicion is that the hardware is having a hard time keeping up with the higher resolution display.

MEGATechie Power Level Over 9000 or MEGATechie Blasted Android?


Considering that tablets are very much a secondary or even a tertiary device, many of us don’t want to spend $500 or more to get one. That’s why the more budget-oriented tablet market is where it’s at and the new Dell Venue 8 3000 Series, listed at $199.99, fits snugly into the affordable range. It’s the right size, the cameras are decent and it runs KitKat out of the box.

But as much as this tablet seems to address the utilitarian needs of someone wanting an 8-inch Android tablet, the performance hiccups I experienced make this a non-starter for me. Perhaps, if you are looking for an inexpensive tablet in this size, you might have to do without the FHD display or you may have to look at offerings in the 7-inch range instead.

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