/// Dell Tablets at Bargain Prices

December 4, 2013  |  All Things Digital

If you’re thinking of getting someone a new, name-brand tablet for the holidays, but blanch at spending base prices of $229, $399 or $499, Dell is hoping you’ll look its way. The computer giant, battling an industrywide slump in PC sales, is once again making a push into tablets and one of its weapons is low pricing. Dell has had little success in tablets. But it introduced this fall a family of four Android- and Windows-based slates called Venue models. I took a close look at one model, the seven-inch Venue 7, which, at $150, is the least expensive new major-label tablet I’ve seen at the standard 16-gigabyte base memory level. (There are a few year-old models, or models with less memory that cost somewhat less.) To understand how low $150 is for a name-brand, 16GB tablet, consider that the market-leading Apple iPads start at $499 for the 9.7-inch iPad Air, and $399 for the iPad Mini with a 7.9-inch Retina display. Even the latest seven-inch models from Google and Amazon, known for aggressive pricing, start at $229. In fact, mostly because they adopted better screens, the 2013 models of the iPad Mini, Google Nexus 7 and top-of-the-line seven-inch Kindle Fire actually rose in price from the 2012 models. So, what exactly do you get from a $150 name-brand tablet? The answer: You get a lower-quality device with weak battery life, which might suffice for a first-time tablet buyer with a tight budget. The Venue 7 is a relatively chunky black plastic tablet running Google’s Android operating system, that’s available via Dell’s online store. It operates over Wi-Fi only, though a cellular version is planned for next year. It cannot be ordered with more internal memory than 16GB, but it has a slot for a memory expansion card. This tablet has a big brother, the Android-powered Venue 8, with similar specs, that starts at $180, still a good price. On the plus side, I found the Dell Venue 7 to be fast enough not to be annoying. Common apps like Gmail, the Chrome browser, the Kindle reading app, Google Maps, Twitter and Facebook all worked fine for me. Videos played smoothly. But buyers of this tablet aren’t getting the latest or best technology. The processor, an Intel Atom, and the version of Android used, Jelly Bean 4.2.2, are last-generation editions, though Dell says it hopes to offer an upgrade to the latest version of Android next year

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Dell Tablets at Bargain Prices

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