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Hands on: Dell Venue 10 7000

Dell has crafted the most gorgeous Android tablet, but can it challenge the iPad Air?

Dell’s Venue 10 7000 Series is the most beautiful Android tablet we’ve seen yet, but its battery life is still a big question mark.

Dell is on a roll lately. Its Venue 8 7000 series tablet impressed us with its sleek design, 3D depth-sensing camera, and powerful processor. Now the company has yet another gorgeous tablet for customers to consider. We saw the Dell Venue 10 7000 series tablet up close and personal at a briefing in New York.

Although we only used it for a short time, we came away intrigued by the 10-inch tablet. Here are our first impressions of the device. We’ll post a full review soon.

A sharp display and stunning design

Dell’s really raised the bar in terms of design for Android tablets. Just like the smaller Venue 8 7000, the Venue 10 is made of aluminum in a sleek, matte finish. It’s thin, solid, and sturdy to the touch. The tablet measures just 6.2mm thick and weighs 598 grams. Although the iPad Air 2 is slimmer and less hefty at 6.1mm thick and a mere 437 grams heavy, Dell’s Venue 10 7000 adds a massive battery in its cylindrical base (more on that later).

Much like Lenovo’s Yoga tablet lineup, Dell’s Venue 10 7000 has a rounded base, but unlike the Yoga line, it doesn’t have a built-in kickstand, which is a shame. As such, there’s only one angle at which you can rest your tablet when it’s sitting on a table. That said, the rounded end does prop up the device so you can easily type or tap around your screen without having to hold it in place.

Dell also offers a number of accessories to go along with the tablet, including a keyboard that attaches via a cool, magnetic gear system. On either end of the cylindrical base, you’ll see these cool, industrial-looking gears. The gears connect the tablet to the keyboard dock very securely, so you don’t feel as though the keyboard is going to fall off if you pick it up from the wrong spot.

The lack of bezel makes the 10.5-inch viewing area appear even bigger that it should.

Thanks to the gears’ flexibility, you can tilt the tablet back at any angle. The gears move smoothly, and you can even flip the keyboard around to put your tablet in presentation mode. Alternatively, the keyboard can be used as a cover, though it will certainly add extra weight. The keyboard itself was fully fledged and had a decent trackpad. It took some getting used to find out which actions you can perform with the touchpad, and which you can’t (you can swipe down for notifications, for example, you have to touch the screen), but it seemed responsive enough during our short test. Of course, you’ll have to buy the keyboard separately, or pay more for the bundle.

Not only does the cylindrical design allow for easy attachment to the optional keyboard, but it also opens up space for MaxxAudio Mobile speakers from Waves. Unlike most tablet speakers, your hands don’t obscure the front-facing speakers when you hold the tablet in landscape mode. They’re always visible and free to blast out as much sound as possible. The speakers sounded pretty good during a Pandora demo, but we’ll need to test them out more to make a judgment.

Dell Venue 10 7000
Malarie Gokey/Digital Trends

We also saw some high-resolution photos and watched a handful of videos on the device during our demo, which showcased the nearly bezel-free OLED screen. The lack of bezel makes the 10.5-inch viewing area appear even bigger that it should. To top it all off, that screen has a 2,560 x 1,600 pixel resolution with a pixel density that’s higher than Apple’s iPad Air 2.

Powerful processing and an expandable memory

Obviously, we weren’t able to really test out the processing capabilities of the Dell Venue 10 7000 series tablet during our hands on demo, but we did see a responsive, zippy tablet at the demo. Like Dell’s smaller Venue, the 10 is powered by an Intel Atom Z3580 quad-core processor that goes up to 2.3GHz, along with of 2GB RAM. However, we still noticed the slight delay with rotation that we saw on the Venue 8 7000.

Dell’s packed 16GB of storage into the device, but a 32Gb option will be available in the U.S. and Canada. Additionally, there’s a crazy MicroSD card slot that supports card with up to 512GB of memory. If you can find a card that big, you’ll be able to store a whole lot of movies and files on this tablet.

As for ports, the tablet has a Micro USB for charging, and a microphone/headphone jack.

3D depth-sensing camera

Just like its smaller brother, the Dell Venue 10 7000 has the Intel RealSense technology, which allows its camera to sense depth. The camera can measure objects, judge distances, and other cool things that we noted in our review of the smaller Venue 7000. Seeing as this tablet is bigger, we imagine you’d probably use the depth-sensing camera much less often, but it’s still a nice addition to have for fun.

Dell Venue 10 7000

Malarie Gokey/Digital Trends

The main camera is an 8-megapixel shooter, and the front-facing camera is 2-megapixels. Neither will win any awards for best camera, but this is a tablet, after all, and a big one at that. We’ll test out the camera in further detail and let you know if it works well on this model.

Finally – Dell gets Lollipop!

One of the most disappointing things about the smaller Venue was its lack of Android 5.0 Lollipop. Luckily, the Venue 10 has 5.0, and boy does it look lovely. Among other cool features, Lollipop also brings Android for Work to the tablet, which could be a nice selling point. Don’t want to outfit your employees with tablets and laptops? Give ‘em a Dell tablet with the keyboard dock and use Android for Work. That’s the idea, anyway, but it still seems an unlikely business decision for most companies.

Conflicting reports on battery life

Since Dell added that cylindrical end for the battery, you’d probably think that this tablet ought to last much longer than the iPad and other comparable tablets. Indeed, it has a 7,000mAh battery inside, which Dell initially told me should get well over 10 hours of battery life, which would have been awesome. The company’s since changed its tune to just 7 hours of battery life, which is less than the iPad and quite modest. We’ll have to test it out in depth to see which estimate is closer to the truth.

Conclusion

At this point, we can’t pass judgment on the Dell Venue 10 7000, though it does look to be a promising 10-inch Android tablet. Dell’s Venue 10 7000 Series raises the bar in terms of design for Android tablets, but if its battery life lags behind the iPad, it’s in trouble. For now, Dell’s offering the tablet in May for $500, or for $630 if you add the keyboard. We’ll let you know our full thoughts soon enough, so keep an eye out for the full review.

Highs

  • Gorgeous design and premium feel
  • It has Android 5.0 Lollipop
  • Cylindrical base stores bigger battery

Lows

  • Keyboard is separate and expensive
  • Battery life has a low estimate