Hands on: Dell Venue 8 7000 series
A slim, high-spec and clever compact Android tablet: Dell could have a winner on its hands here
Tablets are all the same these days: black, shiny rectangles. The Dell Venue 8 7000 series is also a shiny, black rectangle – no change there – but it makse two genuine leaps forward.
First, it's the thinnest tablet out there. At 6mm thick, it makes even the 7.5mm iPad Air look like it's packed on a few pounds around the hips. It's so slender, it's hard to understand where exactly the components live.
But the Dell Venue 8 7000 series isn't only supermodel slim, it's clever, too: it's the first device to use Intel's RealSense snapshot technology, which has a trio of cameras to offer 3D images.
Dell Venue 8 7000 series: RealSense camera
It's similar in some ways to the Lytro and the HTC One M8: RealSense uses multiple cameras to judge depth. On the Dell tablet, there are three cameras on the rear: the top one is 8-megapixels, while the other two are both 0.9-megapixels.
The camera is supported by a selection clever apps. The built-in Dell Gallery app lets you edit photos, to drop the colour out of the background of an image or shift the focal point after taking the image - a trick the Lytro light-field camera pulls off for $1,600.
The technology also allows you to measure objects in a photograph. Snap a shot of your couch, tap each edge, and you get an accurate measurement. Or, you can quickly make animated images; take a snapshot and trace a pattern, and the shifting focus gives the static picture a bit of subtle movement.
Intel showed off other uses, including augmented reality and dropping out the background in a Skype call - handy if you're video conferencing from a messy bedroom.
The RealSense technology is of course not limited to Dell products, and will arrive on other tablets starting next year. HTC pulled off a similar trick with the One M8, which has a pair of cameras on the rear; an Intel engineer said the system is similar, but the RealSense cameras are spaced further apart, to mimic eyes, meaning they capture more depth and should give better end results. In our brief tests, the focus shifting and measuring apps both worked a treat; though neither are killer apps that will change how we use photography, they do have some practical use.
The only down side is the odd placement of the rear-facing, RealSense camera. It's at bottom of the tablet; pick it up and hold it in a way that feels natural, and your fingers will obscure the lens. The RealSense camera takes up more space than a standard snapper, and the placement of the other components – notably the battery – forced it down into this odd position.
While you'll have a few awkward moments trying to aim the camera to take your first few shots, though, it's hardly a major complaint.
Hands on Dell Venue 8 7000 series review: specifications
Thin form factor aside, the Venue 8 7000 is a striking device. The glass display stretches edge-to-edge across, with just a hint of black bezel either side. There's about an inch or so at the top and bottom where the speakers and front-facing camera reside, and this gives you a place to grip the device. Aside from the glass, it's built from plastic in warm grey and black, with just a hint of roundness at the corners.
In terms of other specifications, you get a 1080p, front-facing video-call camera and a stereo speaker stretching most of the way across the bottom of the front of the device. The screen itself is a 2,560 x 1,600, 8.4in OLED display, which looked bright and bold, even under the intense overhead lights of the show floor at Intel's Developer Forum.