on November 11, 2013
I have the 64GB version, which I actually bought off the Dell web site instead of Amazon. It did take a while to arrive (about 3 weeks), but this review isn't about Dell's marketplace. :)
I've had the Venue Pro 8 for a few days now and have gotten in a decent amount of both play time and work time. I want to preface this, by saying that I've been through the following tablets over the past couple of years - 1st gen iPad, 3rd gen iPad, iPad mini, Kindle Fire, Nook HD, Samsung Galaxy tab, Surface RT, and Asus VivoTab RT. Up until I bought the Venue Pro 8, I was using the Surface RT as my primary tablet. My kids play their games on the iPads, and I honestly haven't touched them for several months, except to install updates.
The thing that has always frustrated me about tablets is that they are great for consumption of content - books, videos, games, but awful for getting actual work done. And for a guy that works 60+ hour weeks and spends 4 months out of the year travelling, it sucks trying to do work on tablets. The Venue Pro 8, however, is the full version of Windows 8. I have the full version of Microsoft Office 2013 on here, Visio and Project (which are critical to my job), as well as other apps that I use, such as Mindjet MindManager, and MineCraft :) This tablet is literally a full PC in a tablet's body. The battery life is compares to other tablets. I'm tracking around 10 hours of use so far. It's turns on and off as quickly as any other tablet.
Last night, I was watching TV with the Dell Venue Pro 8 on the couch next to me, and during the commercials, I picked it up to check up on a couple of blogs and play a couple levels of some casual games. This morning, I turned on my Bluetooth Microsoft Wedge Keyboard and Wedge Mouse, and went out to Starbucks to work for the morning. My laptop stayed in my bag, and I only used the Venue Pro 8 - checking email, working on a Word doc, taking a conference call on Lync, etc. Yes, the screen is a little small for working on it non-stop, but the resolution is very good and you can compensate for the screen size by adjusting the font sizes in Windows. I haven't had any issues working from the tablet for lengthy periods of time.
I two have two issues, though. The first is the pen. I bought the pen and case combo from Dell, and the pen holder is situated along the right side of the case, when it's being held vertically. Because of this, the pen is close enough to the screen that it deactivates the touch input. This is really annoying, so I stopped carrying the pen in the case. Instead, I put the pen in my pocket. Then the other day, I took it out of my pocket to use it, and I noticed that the tip of the pen had broken off. That was a bit frustrating since the pen was $35.
The second issue is with the case. It's a pretty nice case, but it's bulky and the tablet is tough to get out of it once it's in. When I'm using the case, it feels like the tablet is bulky and thick. When I take it out, it feels slim and light, so I prefer to use it out of the case. So my recommendation is that if you buy this tablet, don't spend the money on the case and stylus - instead take the money and buy a Wedge Keyboard and Mouse - it makes it a lot more usable.
The last thing I'll say is that I saw a video on YouTube of a guy who hooked up the Venue Pro 8 up to a couple of monitors to use it like a PC. I haven't done that yet, but I did buy a Male B to Female A USB cable in order to do this. Once that arrives, I'm going to plug this into my USB docking station and try running this tablet as my primary PC.
Overall, this is the best tablet I've used to date. It really makes Windows shine and makes me more of a believer in the Microsoft vision -
on November 11, 2013
Its a 8" tablet weighing less than the iPad mini but runs Full Windows 8.1, how cool is that? This is what I have been wanting for a long long time - a tablet that lets me consume content, and when I don't have access to a regular PC, it will let me do some actual work! And full Windows means - you can run any windows application, get multiple user profiles and the whole shebang!
Ordered from Amazon for $252.65 on Nov. 3rd and got it Nov 5th - Amazon Prime rocks!
Comes in a slim plastic body that actually feels and looks quite good, has the spiraled textured back which provides an excellent grip. 1 micro-SD card slot and 1 micro-USB port. No Sim Card slot. A mono but adequate speaker - if you want stereo you will have to plug in a headphone/external/Bluetooth speaker. In the box you will get a charger and a USB/micro-USB Cable - that's it.
Cold booting to Windows takes about 10 seconds. updated the BIOS - took about 8 minutes. Ran Windows updates - about 200MB. Installed some apps - Evernote touch, dropbox, kindle... watched YouTube, Hulu, amazon prime and Netflix, read some PDFs - I have to say the metro PDF viewer really shines in tablet form factor. Next Morning, I decided it was a keeper and ordered an OTG Cable, Micro-SD Card and the Stylus from Dell. I haven't run any intensive applications on it, but the maximum I was able to push it was up to 89% memory use. I was little concerned about the 2GB memory and the eMMC storage. But after I ran passmark PC performance test, it appeared this thing was performing on par with the low end 65W TDP CPU s - like a core 2 duo or a mobile core i3 even, and this is only a 5W CPU, I have to say, hats off to Intel! Way better than the Eee PCs - with which we mostly associate the Atom CPU s. you can see a screenshot of my passmark results. Crystal Diskmark revealed pretty impressive disk performance - I only hope that it will last past the warranty period. Next I wanted to see how it performed compared to other "tablets" on the market. So, I ran geekbench 3, and here are the results and some comparison -
Geekbench 3 Results -
Device Single Core Multi Core
Dell Venue Pro 8 789 2525
Asus Nexus 7 622 1891
iPad mini 262 498
iPad 4th Gen 784 1427
Galaxy Note 10.1 392 1073
Amazon Kindle Fire 337 614
Acer Iconia W3 437 1106
Needless to say, This little beauty performs exceptionally well.
Before I knew it, my OTG cable and micro-SD cards were here. The micro-USB port is used to charge the battery and also works as a USB host with a USB OTG cable. It does not function as mtp. Downside to this dual purpose port is that you can't charge and connect to peripherals simultaneously. could not successfully power a regular portable USB drive or slim DVD drive, But it detects an USB keyboard just fine and you can get to the BIOS. One other thing i tried was a generic USB Ethernet adapter and it worked! You can boot from a Retail Windows 8.1 USB Stick, but that's as far as you will be able to go, Dell hasn't made available the touch screen drivers.
After getting the cable, I moved the recovery partition to a thumb drive (you need a minimum of 8GB), deleted the recovery partition, and ran disk cleanup - at this point I had a total of 17.5GB out of 27.9GB free - plus the 32GB on the micro-SD card, I think i will survive. pretty much anything video, audio, pdf etc all opens and runs just fine from the sd card.
A lot of people have complained about the automatic display settings, but it was a bit too bright for my taste when i turned the auto brightness off. Ran the Windows battery report, since i have used it for a few days now. It appears it got almost 10 hours of full use, you can see the screenshot of that report.
Dell really screwed up the shipping for my stylus, delayed it twice. I am not an artist, nor have ever used any active stylus extensively. This appeared to work reasonably well for me in One Note and Windows Journal, with some occasional slipping of the pen or a bit of a too much sensitivity. This is one thing I am not too thrilled about in general about the touch screen of this device - its just a bit too much touchy at times, a single key touch will get 2,3 letters and sometime the zooming in/out and scrolling tends to slip too. I don't know what kind of glass they are using, its not listed in Corning Gorilla Glass site.
After almost a week of using this tablet, I am beginning to wonder why Microsoft had to take almost a Billion dollars write off on the Surface RT? Windows 8 is actually a pretty good OS, the Metro UI is much better than anything out there - IMHO, including IOS (I own a 1st & 3rd gen iPad) and of Course Android. I think they should have kept the RT limited to just Metro, and for the Desktop part, they could have put in an option to selectively turn on the touch friendly Metro UI only if the PC detected that it has a touch screen - or something like that. That way people would be much less confused. The 2 UIs and the sudden loss of the familiar start button has been a pretty big shock for the users. Maybe they didn't foresee Intel being able to make a 5W x86 processor that's almost as good as a desktop CPU? if Intel continues like this, maybe in a few years our smart phones will be x86 instead of ARM? that will be fun!
Like a lot of other folks, at the beginning I thought why on earth would Dell put the Windows button like that on the side in the Venue Pro 8? Well after using the Venue 11 Pro, I think I like the placement of the Windows button much better on the Venue Pro 8. The capacitive Windows button interferes too much specially if you are trying to use the Pen in landscape mode.
on November 29, 2013
I'm going to post this review under both the Dell Venue 8 Pro and the Lenovo Miix 8 as I believe some people may find the comparison helpful.
I will cut to the chase and say that I have decided to keep the Venue 8 Pro and return the Lenovo Miix 8. I rated both of the devices a 5 because they are both very similar and I didn't feel it was fair to dock the Lenovo just because I preferred the Dell. If I could have rated the Lenovo 4.75, I would have.
Here is what I like and dislike about both devices:
1. Screen on the Dell is better than the Lenovo in my opinion. For example, in the Kindle App for Windows 8, after changing the settings to white text on black background, you get a truly "black" background on the Dell whereas it is more of a gray on the Lenovo. Also, the colors just seem to be more accurate on the Dell. The Lenovo offers a brighter screen but the Dell is plenty bright for me. I was also able to dim the backlight on the Dell more than the Lenovo which was helpful to me for nighttime reading. These are not major issues but it was something I noticed after comparing side by side.
2. I have grown to prefer the build materials and quality of the Dell more than the Lenovo. The Lenovo is thinner and lighter which I thought was something that was important to me, but the Dell is much more comfortable to hold. This is mainly because the Dell is made from some sort of rubberized plastic material that is very "grippy". It just feels comfortable to hold. The Lenovo on the other hand is made from some sort of slick plastic and it always felt like I was going to drop it. Also, the Lenovo made a faint "creaking" and "crackling" sound whenever I held it.
3. I originally didn't like Dell's placement of the start button on top of the device, and this was one of the reasons that I purchased the Lenovo. After using them both, I have grown to prefer Dell's implementation since I don't ever power off the device. The Start button acts as my "on" button and I have grown accustomed to the placement. I thought I would prefer the Lenovo with its capacitive button, but I find myself having to hit the button at least twice to activate it which is very frustrating. I realize it must be very difficult to design a capacitive button with just the right level of sensitivity, but if Surface and many Android tablets can pull it off, so should Lenovo. Hopefully both companies will figure out a way to engineer a hard button on the front like on the iPad.
4. I thought I would prefer having the GPS that the Lenovo offers, but since there aren't currently any good GPS apps for Windows 8 touch devices, I didn't find much use for it. I tried it with Streets and Trips and the program would not recognize the GPS sensor.
5. I get slightly better sound quality from the headphone jack of the Dell than I do with the Lenovo. It's just a minor difference and probably just a matter of personal preference, but it is something that is important to me.
6. Actual user performance on both devices was about equal for me, even though the Lenovo apparently offers a slightly better processor.
7. The Lenovo offers a cheaper case and stylus than the Dell. I have found the Lenovo case and stylus for as low as twenty dollars here on Amazon.
8. I was able to pick up the Dell unit for twenty five dollars less than the Lenovo and see a lot of deals on the 32 gb version of the Dell. Something to consider.
9. Battery life seems to be similar on both but I can't say I have performed any scientific tests to verify.
Here is a list of tablets that I currently own and used as reference points in deciding whether or not to keep the Dell:
1. iPad 2. I no longer have any need for this device and find it to be too limited for its size and weight. I have handed this down to my wife and kids. The kids get a LOT of mileage out of it playing various learning and leisure games. My wife mainly reads books and plays candy crush on it.
2. Kindle Fire HD 8.9. I ONLY use this device because of the text to speech feature and only when I need to read something technical and/or boring for work. I tried to "upgrade" to the Kindle Fire HDX 7" and later learned that Amazon crippled this amazing feature (you have to buy the audio book now) so I ended up returning the HDX. I may upgrade again if Amazon ever brings this functionality back.
3. ThinkPad Tablet 2. This is my go to device for customer meetings as it is very convenient for taking notes with the screen size and dock-able stylus. That said, the device is a little slow for my taste so I'm really looking forward to the new version early next year.
4. Nexus 7 (1st gen). Too slow and battery life sucks. Pretty much collects dust now but I do use it occasionally as a controller for my Sonos system.
5. Surface 2. Love this device with the Type Cover 2 and use it as a bridge between my home pc (Samsung Series 7 Slate) and work pc.
6. Kindle Paperwhite. Love this device for long reading sessions as I don't get any eye strain like I do on my LCD devices.
7. iPad Mini (1st gen) Great for what it is, but very limited in what I can do with it. I use it mainly as a quick consumption device and ebook reader. I might end up getting rid of it now that I have decided to keep the Dell Venue 8 pro.
Well, I think that is everything I wanted to share. I do want to make it clear that I like both the Dell and Lenovo very much, and would have kept the Lenovo if the Dell wasn't a choice. Thankfully, I have a choice and will stick with the Dell.
on March 14, 2014
The tablet in and of itself is a nice piece of kit, and I was pleased with the overall packaging, form factor, and UI speed. Definitely a great bargain I thought. I'd even convinced four other people to buy them. After the first month, the problems began:
1/2014 - The screen edge began to flicker intermittently whenever the system heated up. This happened in the BIOS setup as well as the full Windows UI.
2/2014 - Problem gets much worse and is happening all of the time now. Obviously a hardware issue, I called Dell Support and was asked to give remote access to the tablet. I did so and they verified that I had updated all of my drivers, firmware, etc. They then sent a package for me to return the tablet for service. The package didn't include the required packing materials as stated, so I dug around and found some old antistat bags. I sent it in.
2/2014 - A week later, it is returned to me. I happily fired the tablet up. Within one minute of starting the interactive setup (the device had been reset to factory), the screen edge flickering began again with event greater intensity. I called Dell, they apologized profusely and asked me to wait while they sent another box. After a delay it arrived.
2/2014 - I sent it in a second time.
3/2014 - A week later it was returned to me. As I pulled it out of the box, I found the back of the tablet loose. It snapped back into place as I held it. I turned it on and began setup again. This time, the screen was warped and showed rainbow colors in the top-and-bottom-middles. I called again and was told that I was be "allowed" a one-time exchange for a REFURBISHED unit. I asked why, since Dell has had my unit longer than I had, I would not be given a new one and was brushed off. They promised THIS one would be great and I'd have it in 3-5 days.
3/2014 - Five days later with no update on my order, I called back and was told that it had already been shipped via FedEx and I'd have to wait a few more days. When I asked for the tracking number, I was told that there wasn't one. When transferred to the floor manager at the end of my call, I asked again for the tracking number. I was put on hold for 10-15 minutes. When the "floor manager" returned, I was told that it was, in fact, not shipped at all, and they had no idea when it would be.
I asked if there was anybody else I could speak to to escalate this issue and was told no, that's all they have are floor managers, but that they would call me when/if there is any update.
In summary, I'm left with my third useless tablet in as many months. Dell does not wish to support them. Avoid at all costs. Spent the extra $100 for a tablet that is supported and save yourself the headaches.
on November 9, 2013
Normally when you hear about a new amazing product from apple, now Microsoft as well there is a big presentation that thousands tune in to watch live. They are the largest advertising for the product to fans and will almost convince you need it. There is however a rare occasion when a device just sells itself. This tablet is the first tablet dell has made that is worth buying. Of course, in buying something you always need to assess how you will use it. If you are buying a tablet to play cheap apps, well this probably is not for you. Android and IOS will both contain a significantly richer amount of touch based native apps.
However, if you are like me and see that tablets are restricted computers, then you may be on the right page. This tablet will do everything your iPad, or android will, minus those apps. Music? I am currently listening to the desktop iTunes application, but have access to metro apps and every other x86 movie player I care to download. Also have visual studio running in the background and am using Google chrome to write this. Point is, this device runs windows 8.1 beautifully allowing you so much more possibilities than its competitors.
To this devices' credit though, windows is a different review than the tablet itself. Therefore here are the best parts, and its drawbacks.
1. The screen
As many others have stated, the screen is beautiful, a true joy to look. Despite its lower resolution screen it looks stunningly sharp and colors shine.
2. The sound quality
An amazing surprise from the device was just how loud it could actually go. It is not the best audio quality out there, however, it is something to be proud of. External speakers for this device could almost be a crime.
Hello Intel, welcome back in the race. Bay Trail is as zippy and promising as the previews have noted.
4. Windows 8.1
Full windows 8 is by far the largest plus of this device. The tablet is not as user friendly as IOS or android, but it gives you a world of possibilities the other do not.
5. The device itself
It is great size, just light enough. The bezel is a great size and fits in your hand snugly. In addition, the grip on the back makes holding the device with one hand comfortable and easily doable.
1. Only micro usb out/in
This means if you would like to connect a usb powered hard drive you will need a micro usb to usb converter. It is possible to convert to hdmi as well, however, good luck charging the device while doing so. Any output will most likely be expensive and engineered to work.
They are nothing to be proud of. After messing with them a little they took mostly blurry pictures with a few nicer ones. Looks like you will really need to try to get a good picture. It is a con simply because everything else is so perfect, anything normal sticks out.
Looks like the device will get warm whenever the Intel chip starts reaching 1.8 GHz. It is not awful, however, as it has no fan, and I have not yet tried anything I would consider CPU intense (like gaming) yet and I have already experienced this, it looks like it could be a problem.
With that said, the device really is a great product. What a surprise from Dell and good for them. It is truly everyone should know about, even if it is not the device for you.
on December 11, 2013
This tablet is amazing. I have installed quite a few programs on it (both regular Windows and Windows Store/RT apps), and the tablet has kept up. A few years ago I had a netbook and swore I wouldn't try another Intel Atom processor. The reviews on the new Bay Trail Atom processors were positive enough that I felt it was safe to try it out again. This tablet should be a game changer. The 8" size is perfect for reading, browsing the web, and running the Windows 8 store/RT apps. The regular windows desktop looks very small, though. The touch screen is really accurate so it allows me to pick out the minimize, maximize, and close buttons enough that I don't have a problem. However, the tablet shines on the start screen side.
The poorly placed windows button a lot of people are mentioning actually seems like it's in a good alternative location than the front/bottom/middle of the display. It lines up a lot nicer than I thought it would and is not a deal breaker.
The speaker is incredibly full sounding for such a small tablet. Much better than my old Nook color or Samsung Tab 2.
The only flaw I've found is the latest Windows updates from December. There are 3 packages that knocked WiFi out on this tablet. After a lot of researching on different forums, the following 3 updates should be ignored, and if installed, immediately uninstalled via the Control Panel -> Program and Features -> Installed Updates (option). After uninstalling these updates, your WiFi will come back on. Hopefully, Dell and Microsoft will address this shortly with a formal patch.
on November 8, 2013
I was a bit skeptical about windows in a small tablet form. My last experience with the Sony VAIO Duo 11 didn't help to dislike the windows 8 + tablet combo. I want a device that I can use mostly for book reading, watching videos, music and read email. Lots of tablets fit the bill but I always come back to Apple's Ipad. The problem with the ipad is storage. 16gb = 500, 32 = 600...100 dollars for 16gb!!! I paid that Apple tax since the first ipad but NO MORE. Enter Dell Venue 8 Pro...Such great well constructed device...solid, sturdy yet light. The real beauty comes with its performance. Screen is fantastic...text so clear to my eyes...installing iTunes and 1K other x86 programs but what made me ditch the ipad was the ability to add additional storage thru the SD card slot. Brilliant. The other one is music...I am able to play my FLAC collection with no issues and the sound is outstanding!! Using headphones of course. Great machine overall. By the way...this is my first review and only this tablet made me do it. Buy it, and now that the 64GB version is only 327!!.
on November 1, 2013
I've had this device for a few days and I'm pretty surprised at how much I like it. I originally questioned the value of an 8" tablet - I got a Surface RT the day they launched and now have a Surface 2 and felt that I wouldn't want anything smaller. But now I'm not so sure.
The other reviews are pretty thorough so I'll just highlight what's top of mind for me:
* Performance: The performance on this little thing is awesome, surprisingly so actually. Apps launch and switch very quickly.
* Screen: The screen is fantastic. Very sharp, great viewing angles, and great colors. It's a joy to look at.
* Battery: I haven't formally tested the battery life all the way to zero, but based on the drain I'm seeing so far, the stated 10 hours seems reasonable.
* Build: Feels like a solid, durable device.
So far it's been a great companion device for me. I've been doing things like using the Reading List app built into Windows 8.1 to save webpages from my desktop that I read later on the Dell; the Kindle app; social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram; catching up on my RSS feeds; and of course email and general web browsing. I have the stylus on order and intend to use it to take handwritten notes with OneNote. And I know it will come in handy for watching movies when traveling, just haven't had it long enough for that yet. And it's small enough that I can pretty much take it with me everywhere, it's my digital man-purse. :)
I think it's a bit unfair to list screen size as a con, or to say it's too small for running Office. That's kind of like buying a small TV then giving it a poor review for being too small to watch movies. If you intend to use Office, and you're buying an 8" device, you should know going in that it's going to be tiny. But it's definitely fair to say that you'll need a keyboard and mouse if you intend to use any Desktop app, and even then, it will be tiny.
on November 1, 2013
Dell isn't going to win any rewards with the packaging. While it isn't unpleasant, nothing about the white slipcover screams interesting, exciting or note worthy. It blends into the sea of tablets and computers that have followed in Apple's shoes regarding the mostly white packaging. The front and back shows the tablet's appearance while listing some features and specs. Once you slide off the cover, you reveal a lightly-colored cardboard box with a very basic white tablet design and Dell logo. If the cover didn't exist, the packaging would be slightly more unique. Upon opening, the Venue 8 Pro is wrapped in typical plastic shielding that most tablets come in.
3-foot USB cord and power adapter. Must I say much more?
Dell offers a keyboard, case and active stylus on their website. I do not currently own any of them, though the stylus certainly is intriguing to me. If I buy any of them, I certainly will update this section.
While looking at the tablet, you feel...nothing. It is a rather plain black rectangle with rounded corners. The side bezels are about 1/3 as big as the top and bottom bezel. On the front upper right, you can see the front-facing camera and some type of notification light. I am not sure what exactly the light is for considering it doesn't light up when I get emails. It also doesn't operate like a typical HDD light on a desktop or an always lit up "On" light. It does light up when using the camera, but I can't fathom that being the only use. EDIT: The light lets you know when the FFC is on and it blinks when turning the device on and off.
The back includes the 5mp camera in an ever-so-slight hump, silver plastic (I assume) Dell logo and a grey "intel inside" logo (thankfully it isn't a sticker). It is textured with with a circular ridge pattern that provides some needed grippage. No grippage isn't in the dictionary.
The top edge contains the "Start" button and the headphone jack. I quickly discovered that the "Start" button is next to useless. In portrait mode, I find moving my hand to the top to be more motion than a basic operation should require. In landscape, I had to bend my index finger more than I wanted on a repeated basis. Swiping from the right and tapping "start" is more comfortable and quicker. The left edge is blank. The bottom edge contains a service number sticker and a speaker grill. The right edge has the micro USB charging port, charging indicator LED, power button, volume rocker and micro SDcard slot. The USB port is in an awkward location right next to the power and volume rocker. When charging and using the tablet, it blocks the natural motion of your finger to those buttons. Also, the cover on the card slot is harder to remove with your hands then it should be, though it won't be something your messing with too often.
Venue 8 Pro's screen does a fantastic job, even if the 1280 by 800 resolution doesn't exactly sound amazing. Everything appears to be crisp, even text in desktop mode. Images and videos are displayed wonderfully. Is it quite as crisp as the newest Nexus 7? No, but you will not begin to notice the difference unless you are using both at the same time. Viewing angles are up to par with any tablet I have owned, not losing much color or brightness even at the highest angle. Contrast is very solid, though I wouldn't mind the blacks to be darker. Brightness is plenty once you turn off "Adaptive brightness." Responsiveness and accuracy provides a great user experience. In desktop mode, hitting small objects with my finger was fairly easy, just as good or better than tablets like the Nexus 7 2013, Nexus 7 2012 and Fire HD. I also never felt like I was waiting for objects to move when dragging my finger.
Initially I noticed the single speaker grill, and I had flashbacks of tablets of days past in which volume sound and quality was mocked even by smartphones from a few years ago. I then turned on a few Youtube videos to find the sound volume and clarity to be quite acceptable. It doesn't have much bass, but does any tablet? There also isn't going to be any illusion of stereo/surround sound. If you want this, grab your headphones.
I'm not a camera snob, but, well...they are pretty bad. I have yet to use a tablet that took pictures worthy of even Facebook. All I will say is use your phone, considering most newer smartphones have pretty good cameras.
This isn't the netbook Atom processor from 2007. It also isn't the sluggish Tegra 3 processor that haunted the Surface RT. This is a quad-core Atom looking to improve it's reputation. The Dell Venue 8 Pro is able to easily handle any metro app I have used up to this point. I can switch between browser tabs with ease, both desktop and metro versions. Controlling snap view doesn't slow down performance either.
I just opened and switched between Youtube playing a video, The Verge website, WPCentral website, MS Word, the Store installing Halo, Skype and desktop version of Chrome without any slowdown or loading delays. Color me impressed. It also hasn't felt like the 2gb of RAM is holding it back. I wanted to test play Halo: Spartan Assault but something with the game didn't agree with the resolution. It looked and acted like a jumbled mess.
The device had some warmth to it when doing some more processor and SSD hungry things, but never got hot. At no point did I think I would need to put it down do to the device being uncomfortable. With this my first fanless, intel-based device, I was glad this never became an issue.
I have never been able to tell battery life on devices well considering my consumption habits change all the time. I will say this though: it feels like I am getting just as good or better life than other tablets of similar size. Dell states 8 to 10 hours, though I am sure I keep my screen brighter than when they tested this. No matter what the actual number is, it is long enough to compete with the less functional ARM based OSes.
I could write an entire review on the OS itself, but you can already find a million of those across the internet. I will cover some quick points though. It is easily navigated in an all touch environment like the Venue 8 Pro. 95% of things the average consumer does with a tablet can be done extremely easily in Metro view. This being the case, I still am very glad to have a desktop and FULL Windows. The ability to install other browsers is a big enough reason to go Windows 8 vs RT. This should also allow companies to adopt devices like the Venue 8 Pro considering they can use old software until more touch friendly versions are created.
Snap view on devices less than 1080p can only have 2 apps open at once. This doesn't bother me considering any more would make the screen way too busy. Microsoft added a new feature when opening a new app while already having two apps open in snap view. The new app's logo appears in the center of the screen and waits for you to touch which app you want to replace. Not automatically replacing an app is one of those small design changes that makes me love 8.1 every time I use it.
Venue 8 Pro also comes with the Home & Student version of Office. Microsoft is currently working on a more touch friendly version which will be very welcomed. That said, I hope that it is just a optional view and not a replacement. To start using it, you do have to activate the software by entering the product key. I wish this was done automatically, though far from a deal breaker.
When upgrading my desktop to Windows 8.1 to 8, I was presented with a few tips on how to use the OS. When first starting with this Dell, I didn't get those same helps. I'm not sure why, but these need to be there to help your average consumer.
My single biggest complaint revolves around settings. While many of the basic settings can be altered using PC Settings, too often I find myself going into the old-school Control Panel to get the heavy lifting down. All settings should be available in both touch and click environments, with the typical control panel being hidden on devices like this.
One issue I had out of the gate was a watermark appearing on my desktop that said "SecureBoot isn't configured correctly". These are one of those things that shouldn't happen on a brand new device. I am not sure if it is a wide spread problem, but I'll bet I'm not alone. After about an hour of frustration, I was able to find a solution. Update bios, turn on Secure Boot and then turn secure boot type to "standard" instead of "custom."
Should you buy?
To me, the only advantage iPads and Android tablets have compared to Windows 8 tablets is touch-based apps, which mostly center around consumption activities. The Dell Venue 8 Pro can stand on its own just fine in every category besides touch based games. Are you most interested in playing the latest fad game? Get an iPad or Android tablet. Want a tablet to do anything else? Jump on the Venue 8 Pro when you can, esp. with the $299 price tag. It won't blow you away with sexy good looks, but it will allow you to do what you want quickly, easily and enjoyably.
Processor: Intel® Atom(tm) processor Z3740D with 32GB storage (2MB Cache, up to 1.8GHz Quad-Core)
Operating System: Windows 8.1 (32Bit) English
Productivity Software: Office Home and Student 2013 Tablet
Memory: 2GB Single Channel DDR3L-RS 1600MHz
Video: Intel® HD Graphics
Display: 8.0 inch IPS Display with HD (WXGA 1280 x 800) resolution with 10-pt capacitive touch
Wireless: Dell Wireless 1538 Dual-Band 2x2 802.11n WiFi + Bluetooth® 4.0
Case Color: Black
Webcam: Integrated 1.2MP HD Webcam (front) / 5MP (back)
Power Supply: 10 Watt AC Adapter
Support: 1 Yr Rapid Return for Repair after Remote Diagnosis - Americas Best Support
Phone Support: 90 Days Premium Phone Support
Ports & Connectors: 1 x Micro-AB USB2.0 (for trickle charging and data transfer), 1 x Headphone and microphone combojack, 1 x 3FF micro-SIM slot (optional)
Thickness: 0.35" (9mm)
Width: 5.12" (130mm)
Length: 8.50" (216mm)
Starting at 395g / 0.87lb
Official User Manual:[...]
on December 19, 2013
A few bugs aside, this is the most powerful 8" tablet I've ever used.
Since it has *real* Windows 8.1 (not RT), it literally runs every piece of software I could ever want.
Get a cheap Bluetooth mouse and keyboard, and you have a tiny productivity machine, that *also* can be used as a tablet that is nearly as light, thin, and long lasting as an iPad Mini.
Seriously. For the price this device is going for, it's mind blowing. The value you are getting for your money is insane.
It comes with a full copy of Office. Not a trial. Not a subscription. Full Office Home and Student. Free.
Does it run Photoshop? Yes.
Visual Studio? .Net? Silverlight? Flash? Java? Yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes.
You want Media Player Classic? Yes.
That old programmer's editor from 2007 that you still like? Yes.
Any software that runs on your desktop PC, will run on this thing.
Moreover, any USB device you can plug into a desktop PC, will also work on this thing because it's fully compatible with desktop PC drivers. Some obscure printer from 2009? Yes. The update app for your TPMS sensor tool? Yes. Even USB display adapters work, so you can plug an HDMI monitor into the thing.
Now add on top of that all the tablet apps that you can run from the Windows Store.
Kindle? Yes. Netflix? Yes. Hulu? Yes. Facebook? Yes. Twitter? Yes. Foursquare? Yes. Flipboard? Yes. News, RSS, Calendar, Mail? Yup.
And finally, IE11. The real thing. The exact same rendering as desktop version with full plugins and Flash support.
Blows the mobile browsers on the Android and Apple tablets out of the water.
But if you're not happy with IE11...
You want Google Chrome? Sure.
Opera and Safari? Yes and yes.
The bottom line is, yes there are still a few bugs in the machine. The pen is a bit wonky. Sometimes the touch screen reads two touches instead of one. You need to manually update some drivers by looking on dell.com. Sometimes the WiFi dies for no reason. Hopefully Dell will post updates that fix these problems soon.
But this machine is a revolution in terms of what a tiny 8" tablet can do. And after a few weeks of using one, there is no way I would go back to either an Android or Apple tablet.