Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Dell Venue 8 Pro Review

Since Microsoft released it’s Windows 8.1 update, it allowed manufacturers to target smaller form-factors devices due to the improvements in the underlying code such as support for portrait orientation and also the removal of resolution restrictions.

Microsoft’s announcement during this years BUILD conference making Windows free for devices with screen under 9 inches surely became another incentive for OEMs to build devices like the Dell Venue 8 Pro.

Who would have thought that we could have this hybrid device that is small, runs full Windows, supports touch and can be both work and play device. This is the promise of Windows 8. No compromises.

Microsoft is entering unfamiliar territory with the introduction of small sized tablets because Windows has typically been used in large-screen devices without touch ever since the dawn of modern computers. Windows 8.1 completes Microsoft vision for Windows to be able to run in different devices and in different sizes with full Windows experience (not RT).

So how does this piece of hardware reflect Microsoft’s push on the “mini” category? We find out.

Dell Venue 8 Pro Specs

  • Display: 8.0 in IPS LED (1280 x 800), 10-finger multi-touch support
  • Processor: Intel Atom Z3740D up to 1.80 GHz
  • Memory: 2GB DDR3L-RS 1333 MHz
  • Storage: 32GB SSD with Micro SD card slot (SD/SDHC/SDXC)
  • OS: Windows 8.1
  • Video: Intel HD Graphics with shared graphics memory
  • Ports: Micro USB, Headphone output/Microphone input combo
  • Battery: 2-cell lithium-ion (up to 8 hours)
  • Camera: 1.2 MP HD webcam front, 5 MP back
  • Connectivity: 802.11a/g/n (Miracast enabled), Bluetooth



I have been a fan of Dell hardware ever since I got my Dell XPS 27 All in One Desktop. The build of the Venue 8 Pro is no different. It feels solid in the hard and the matte ripple-ly back makes holding the tablet quite comfortable. If you’ve held a Nexus 7 then it pretty much feels the same way as this one.

Dell’s display is really among the best in the industry. The Venue 8 Pro has great viewing angles and just right resolution of 1280 x 800. Not Full HD and pixels can be seen but this is a mini tablet so it’s fine. Besides if it did support high density display, it could have an impact on the battery life and the price.

One thing to note on the display though. Windows 8 or Dell seems to have flaky support for ambient light sensor and auto adjustment. The screen were dimming itself most of the time but Dell has already issued an update for that here.

One thing to note its that the power or Start button of this tablet is located at the top. Usually the Start button is located on the face of the tablet and is of a capacitive nature. The Dell Venue 8 Pro design actually makes sense in that you don’t accidentally press Start when holding the device in landscape or portrait mode, specially when taking notes or drawing using the optional active stylus. If you want to access Start, you can use the Charms bar onscreen anyway.

The camera is a 5.0 megapixel one that shoots ‘sort of okay’ muted photos and videos. A tablet shouldn’t be your main camera in the first place.


The Dell Venue 8 Pro is powered by Intel’s next generation Atom processor. Don’t be fooled by the Atom moniker and think about the horrible memories of your EeePC netbook, this one is different - it’s much better.

The default and irreplaceable RAM of 2GB is enough for basic tasks like browsing, composing emails and using Microsoft Office. Don’t expect to run graphic intensive games on these but you already knew that. On another hand, this has SSD for storage, so boot up and resuming from standby is super fast and programs also get the added boost.

I won’t be able to make a review on the stylus performance of this machine since I never got one for it but initial reviews were quite critical, Dell fortunately seeded new firmware updates that has fixed most of the issues.

Windows 8.1 Software

What’s compelling about this tablet is that it runs full Windows. It can run what your big desktop office computer can run. you are not limited to an app store and some gimmicky apps and games but instead you can run full Microsoft Office Home and Student (Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote comes free with the device) You can even run full (but quite older) games without any hitch.

The only thing that may be a drawback to this machine is the limited space of 32GB (or 64gb) storage space, Even then you still have the option to install another 64GB microSD card on the expandable slot. That is just genius.

Because this is full Windows, it also supports thousands of USB devices like USB drives, printers, cameras, scanners, Xbox controllers, etc. The Dell Venue 8 Pro doesn’t have a full-size USB slot due to its size but you can get a micro USB to USB adapter on CDR-king and plug away.

If you’re looking at making this machine as your desktop replacement machine, you may have to look elsewhere though. This only has one micro USB slot so either charge it while using it or plug in your desk peripherals and use the battery. there’s no option to charge and use the USB port as far as I know.

The battery life of this thing is excellent. It has a 8+ hour battery life thanks to the 4,830mAh battery that Dell decided to include. It really sums up the leanness and power efficiency that Microsoft did with Windows 8 along with Intel’s improvement on its new line of Atom processors.

Windows 8.1 really shines on the Dell Venue 8 Pro and pretty much all touch-enable devices. the portrait mode is really perfect for reading Bing News or Flipboard. Snap View is also great for multitasking in the Modern UI.

I really get and like the ‘no compromise’ approach of Windows 8. I own the Surface Pro and love it so maybe that’s why. Hybrid computers are not for everybody. Most would just like to download an app and get on with their life and use multiple device for each work and personal lives. That’s fine. But having an option to use a single device which can do much more than a regular 8” tablet is really a nice thing to have.

The other nice thing about this device is that it only costs $250 (approx. 11,500 pesos) for 32GB. Not bad at all.

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