The Bottom Line
Nov 21 2013 - For those wanting a highly portable tablet that features the full Windows 8.1 operating system, the Dell Venue 8 Pro is a solid choice. Performance is quite surprising thanks to the new Atom processor and its size means that it can be held with one hand much better than larger 10-inch tablets. Even the limited storage can be dealt with thanks to the microSD card slot. There are a number of smaller issues with it though including a screen that still can't compare to more affordable Android tablets, slow charging via the microUSB port and cameras that frankly aren't that useful.
- Low Price
- Solid Performance From Quad Core Atom Processor
- MicroSD Slot For Storage Expansion
- Screen Resolution Less Than Android Competition
- Slow To Charge Via microUSB Port
- Camera Performance Very Poor
- 1.8GHz Intel Atom Z3470D Quad Core Mobile Processor
- 2GB PC3-12800 DDR3 Memory
- 32GB Storage
- 8" WXGa (1280x800) Multitouch Display
- 1.2 Megapixel Front and 5.0 Megapixel Rear Cameras
- Intel HD Graphics
- 802.11a/g/n Wireless, Bluetooth
- Micro USB 2.0, MicroSD Card Slot, 3.5mm Audio
- 8.5" x 5.12" x .35" @ .87 lbs.
- Windows 8.1
Review - Dell Venue 8 Pro
Nov 21 2013 - Dell's Venue 8 Pro is surprisingly affordable and compact for those looking to get a Windows 8.1 tablet. Thanks to its smaller 8-inch screen, the tablet can be carried in one hand quite easily. The device is relatively thin at just .35-inches thick which makes it one of the thinnest Windows tablets at the same thickness of the Microsoft Surface 2. The weight is under a pound but still a bit heavy compared to some Android tablets. In order to make the tablet affordable and lightweight, it uses a plastic exterior with a round grooved surface to help prevent it from easily slipping from ones hand. Unlike many other Windows tablets, the start button is not on the face of the tablet but on the side near the volume buttons.
Powering the Dell Venue 8 Pro is the new Bay Trail based Intel Atom Z3470D quad core processor. This is a huge improvement over the past Atom processor because of the extra cores and the improved power management. The processor is matched up with 2GB of DDR3 memory which provides it with surprisingly responsive feel. It handles all of the basic applications provided with it just fine and thanks a full 32-bit Windows 8.1 installation has the ability to run your standard Windows applications, Just be warned that more demanding applications will still get bogged down as this processor still isn't as fast as even your budget class ultrabook laptops.
Storage for the Venue 8 Pro version comes with 32GB of space. This may feel a bit cramped for adding applications and especially high definition media files on because of the operating system and applications taking up a fair did of space. Thankfully, Dell does include a microSD card slot behind a cover on the tablet which allows for easy and relatively low cost upgrades of up to an additional 64GB to the storage of the system. This is best used for storing data files while reserving the tablets prime memory for applications.
The 8-inch screen of the Dell Venue 8 Pro does use IPS technology that offers it wide viewing angles and good color and brightness. The only downside here is the resolution is just 1280x800 which is low compared to Android based tablets such as the Kindle Fire HDX or Nexus 7 but this is typical for a low cost Windows tablet or laptop. It just means that you won't get all the detail when trying to view a 1080p high definition video but it is well suited for the Windows 8.1 applications. Don't expect this thing to be a graphics powerhouse though. The Intel HD Graphics have to overcome a lot of the overhead of the Windows 8 graphics system to really prevent it from being used as a 3D gaming platform. It will still do fine with other simplified graphics games like Candy Crush or Angry Birds.
One thing that many of the low cost Windows tablets have lacked is a good rear facing camera. Thanks to applications like Skype, the front cameras have been pretty decent. Dell decided to put in a five megapixel sensor onto the Venue 8 Pro. While this makes it the highest resolution camera available in a Windows tablet in this price range, the camera still suffers greatly like most tablets. Pictures often end up blurry with muted colors and of course terrible low light ability.
Dell does not advertise the size of the battery within the Dell Venue 8 Pro but instead claims that the system can run for up to 10 hours. In digital video playback testing, the tablet was able to run for just under eight hours. This is certainly well below the ten and a half hours that the Microsoft Surface 2 can achieve but that is a larger tablet with bigger battery and running the Windows 8 RT software. It does put it pretty much on par with most of the other tablets that are running the full version of Windows 8.1. One downside is that the charging is done of the micro USB 2.0 port which means that it can take a fairly long time to fully charge up the tablet.
Priced at $299, the Dell Venue 8 Pro is the least expensive Windows 8.1 based tablet on the market. The primary competition comes from the Acer Iconia W3-810 which is the same size but has a higher price tag. It uses an older dual core Atom processor for less performance and is larger and heavier than Dell's offering. The two other affordable options both use larger 10-inch screens that make them larger and heavier by default. The ASUS Transformer Book T100 is more expensive but has the advantage of coming with a keyboard dock that converts into into a small laptop. It offers the same level of performance from the same Bay Trail based processor but it suffers from a lack of rear camera and some odd port placement. Finally, the Lenovo Miix 10 is another 10-inch tablet only that is more expensive but comes with 64GB of storage but has a better selection of ports including a microHDMI port and a dedicated AC port for faster charging. It does lack a rear camera just like the ASUS.