Dell Small Windows Tablet. Impressive!
The Dell Venue 8 Pro feels and looks good right out of the box…typical Dell quality. Edge to edge glass on the front and a nice rubberized back that allows for a firm grip. As far as I am concerned 8” is the sweet spot for tablets and Dell has done a good job with this one. At 8.5 x 5.11 x 0.35 inches and 13.6 oz ((216 x 130 x 9mm and 395 grams) it is thinner than its rivals and is comfortable to hold in one hand and easy to work with two-handed in landscape mode. It took a little fumbling to get the Venue 8 turned on..the obvious choice the button at the top right didn’t do anything so I tried another button on the right side above the volume control and that did the trick. I wonder what that top button is for? After poking the centre of the bottom bezel in both landscape and portrait mode looking for the Windows button I figured out that it is the Windows button…a location that takes some getting used to but it works. Powered on you can’t help but to be impressed by the 1200 x 800 IPS multi-touch screen that is also equipped with a digitizer for the optional stylus that Dell offers. The screen is sharp and bright (if you turn off Dell’s overly aggressive power-saving auto-brightness) and the touch sensitivity is just right. It is great for watching videos and playing games but don’t expect gaming miracles from the Atom processor. Audio from the bottom speaker is very good. The Venue 8 Pro has two cameras, a 1.2MP front sensor that is OK for video calls and a 5MP rear facing unit that takes decent pictures outdoors under good lighting conditions
Under the hood the Venue 8 Pro is powered by a power stingy next generation quad-core 1.8GHz Intel Atom Z3740D processor with 2GB of RAM, integrated Intel HD graphics and 32GB of internal storage. As well there is a slot for a Micro SD card under a tab on the right side for additional storage. The Venue 8 Pro comes with Windows 8.1…full blown windows which means you can run full-fledged Windows desktop applications but that’s really not what these mini tablets were designed for. Your best experience is going to be with apps from the Windows App store that use the tablet and finger-friendly modern UI. At this screen size and resolution the classic windows UI is downright finger unfriendly..maybe the active stylus will help but, I want to use my fingers on a tablet and not have to keep track of a stylus. The Windows app ecosystem at about 100,000 apps does not offer the choice of iOS or Android but you are almost certain to be able to find an app to do what you need done. The availability of Microsoft Office on this tablet should be a real selling point but it is not. Microsoft should be ashamed for not having a proper Modern Windows UI version of Office almost a year and a half after Windows 8 was launched. As it stands now Office loads in the finger unfriendly classic UI and is pretty much useless. Despite the serious shortcomings of Windows 8 the Dell Venue 8 pro is a solid well built very functional tablet that performs really well and will pretty much run all day on a battery charge. At $299 for the 32Gb version the Venue 8 is a great value. The Dell Venue 8 Pro will start shipping the middle of February and is currently available for pre-order on the Dell website. Dell is also offering an active stylus and a keyboard case that help overcome some of the shortcomings of Windows 8 when you are using this tablet as a creation device.