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DELL VENUE 8 PRO FULL REVIEW

A full 8-inch Windows 8.1 tablet with active stylus for less than 14 ounces

By Maxime Abbey - First published on 04-13-2014 on Arachnosoft

Introduction and buyer's background

Page 1 of 19 - Next page

Like some people, I chose to wait before purchasing my own touch-enabled tablet. Either being the first iPad from Apple back in 2010, or the following Android tablets (Samsung Galaxy Tab, Asus Transformer, Google Nexus...), I never felt I actually needed one.

I first started to be interested by such consumer products back in 2013, when the first Windows x86-powered tablets, like the Surface Pro, started to be released. I, thus, started to consider a tablet as a good way to access my usual Windows applications on a smaller format device, without any software restriction.

My interest grew quickly when, back in June 2013, the very first 8" x86 tablet was announced: the Acer Iconia W3-810. But my initial enjoyment quickly vanished as soon as I read the first review, stating that this tablet came with a mediocre TN screen!

Dell Venue 8 Pro full review - Introduction and buyer's background

Hopefully, three months later, new tablets sporting the brand-new Bay Trail platform from Intel revamped my interest: first was the Iconia W4-820, a W3 updated with an IPS screen (at least!), quickly followed by those from other manufacturers: Dell Venue 8 Pro, Toshiba Encore WT8, Lenovo Miix 2 8", Lenovo ThinkPad 8 and Asus VivoTab Note 8.

Dell Venue 8 Pro full review - Introduction and buyer's background Dell Venue 8 Pro full review - Introduction and buyer's background Dell Venue 8 Pro full review - Introduction and buyer's background Dell Venue 8 Pro full review - Introduction and buyer's background Dell Venue 8 Pro full review - Introduction and buyer's background Dell Venue 8 Pro full review - Introduction and buyer's background Dell Venue 8 Pro full review - Introduction and buyer's background

Given all these tablets share very similar technical specifications (Intel platform, 8" 1280x800 screen except for the ThinkPad 8, microSD-expandable storage, battery life...), I had to compare them to find which points could differentiate one among all the others: stylus support (for handwriting, drawing, and Windows desktop element selection purposes), HSPA+/LTE support to browse the Internet without any Wi-Fi connection, video output, GPS...

Why choosing the Dell Venue 8 Pro?

After having spent several months reading numerous reviews, comparative tests and miscellaneous user feedback reports, I synthesized everything under an Excel spreadsheet to compare each feature. Which led me to choose the Dell Venue 8 Pro, because it was the only one carrying both HSPA+ and stylus support, while being also one of the very few available in France.

Dell Venue 8 Pro full review - Introduction and buyer's background

All the other 8 inch tablets were, either: 

  • unavailable in France (unlike the Dell and the Acer), unless buying on non-French websites (which can lead to some headaches if I need customer support)
  • without an active digitizer stylus (unlike the Dell and Asus products) - even if the Synaptics technology used by Dell isn't the best available
  • without HSPA+ connectivity support (only available on Dell and Lenovo products)

The first reviews I read, as well as the feedback I found on the French Hardware.fr community, praised:

  • the above-average build quality compared to the competition (same as ThinkPad 8),
  • an excellent touchscreen, with very good contrast and brightness levels,
  • a very good speaker (although only mono)
  • a large choice of accessories, either official or third-party (keyboards, covers...)

Now convinced, and despite the lack of HDMI video output, I ordered a 64 GB + HSPA+ Dell Venue 8 Pro with stylus in March 2014, directly from Dell, and received it 15 days later.

I'm thus going to give my own feedback on this tablet, after testing it extensively for more than two weeks.

I hope that this review will match your expectations;

My goal being to bring you some new information, compared to most reviews I read until now on the web, which sound too much "general-purpose" to me, only reviewing the main features (screen, build quality, ergonomics, battery life) without never really taking time to test some other features which sound important to me: stylus, photo/video cameras, sound, connectivity, external screen display through Miracast...

Some points I'll thus try to cover more extensively.

Technical specifications
Build quality, design, dimensions
Software ergonomics: Introduction
Software ergonomics: Windows Modern UI (codenamed "Metro")
Software ergonomics: Windows Classical Desktop
Hardware design: physical buttons
Hardware design: the connectors
The hardware: display/screen, ambient light sensor, gyroscope...
The hardware: performance/CPU/RAM, responsiveness
The hardware: internal and external storage
The hardware: graphics and gaming
The hardware: Photo, video and audio
The hardware: wireless networking
The hardware: battery life and cooling
Extended features - Wireless video display on external monitor (Miracast)
Extended features - The active digitizer/stylus: description and design
Extended features - The active digitizer/stylus: technical review
Conclusion, pros and cons

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