The original Venue 7 was a mediocre tablet upstaged by more capable options that cost just a few dollars more. With the new Venue 7, Dell has stepped up their game to build a real contender that still might not upstage its competitors on specs, but it certainly offers plenty for the price.
The Venue 7 doesn't look cheap, with CNET saying the "matte finish adds a level of stylish comfort" and that the grooved back exudes "a subtle coolness typically associated with jazz musicians." But while Notebookcheck says the "stiffness of the Venue 7 is very good," it also "proved to be quite pressure sensitive," distorting the screen when the back of the tablet was pressed.
That's a distortion the Venue 7 can ill afford, with a screen that CNET says is brighter "than its latest competition" but is still decidedly "average." Laptop Magazine agreed that it's "wonderfully bright," but says it's also "washed out and unsaturated." Notebookcheck also says the speaker's quality is "middling" with its placement "unfavorable," as your hand covers it in landscape mode -- a huge drawback when trying to watch a movie.
On the bright side, the Venue 7 offers "decent system performance," according to Notebookcheck. CNET was able to switch from "one app to another without a hitch," though "performance noticeably slows down when downloading many apps or updates." It's not a surprise that CNET finds "closing background apps significantly helped large apps and games launch faster and perform better."
The Venue 7 won't blow you away in terms of performance or battery life, but for $160, it offers more than enough, making it a great buy for those in need of a tablet for casual use.