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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
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

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The internal storage capacity of the Dell Venue 8 Pro is either 32 or 64 GB, depending of the model you choose. This storage space is handled by flash eMMC memory.

Compared to Windows PCs, even those only powered by a SSD, this capacity may appear quite small.

But, once again, if you compare with the other tablets on the market, which usually come with 8 to 32 GB storage space, the Dell Venue 8 Pro offers more than the average of the competition.

That said, a Windows 8.1 tablet requires more storage space, as the Windows (non-RT) system has much more requirements on this particular point, than other tablet operating systems.

Dell Venue 8 Pro full review - The hardware: internal and external storage

  • on the 32 GB Dell Venue 8 Pro, only 11 to 12 GB are actually available for the user out of the box, once all Windows updates have been applied;
  • on the 64 GB version, the available space is 38 GB under the same conditions.

Hopefully, there are some tips and tricks you can apply to free some gigabytes of disk space, by moving the recovery partition on a different USB disk, or by uninstalling some applications initially bundled with the tablet.

At such, I'll deliver the same comment than with RAM usage here: if you're using your tablet to view some data without installing too much software games, it should be enough to fit your needs... if you get the 64 GB variant of the Venue 8, at least.

Internal memory performance (eMMC)

On the performance chart (read/write speeds, access times), the eMMC memory used on the Venue 8 Pro and its competitors is half-way between conventional memory cards, and entry-level SSDs.

In real life, the Venue 8 Pro CrystalDiskMark results are reporting sequential read speeds of 68 MB per second, and 33 MB per second write speeds. These rates are somewhat those you can observe on USB 3.0 entry-level flash USB drives (like the Kingston DataTraveler R3.0).

These rates are those you can get with the "DDR50" memory management mode, enabled by default on BIOS revisions A04 and earlier. By enabling the "HS200" option (unavailable in revision A04, enabled by default in A05 revision), you'll get a welcome speed bump, with 120 MB/second sequential read speed, and 55 MB writing rate!

Dell Venue 8 Pro full review - The hardware: internal and external storage

The impact of this mode on the tablet's battery life and flash memory's health should be minor compared to what you gain in performance. Might it be why it has been enabled by default on new BIOS revisions?

There's a similar mode for the card reader, but, unlike internal eMMC memory, performance gain remains restricted (and will mostly depend of the memory card's quality), while the impact on its health is likely to be more important. As a result, this option isn't available on all BIOS revisions.

Overall, we are quite far from the performance rates of a PC SSD, even an entry-level model, and far away from high-end tablet's SSDs (like the Microsoft Surface Pro). But it remains quite good for a tablet at this price, and often sufficient in non-heavy use.

External memory performance (microSD)

When inserting a memory card in the microSD slot, it is directly recognized by Windows, with its own drive letter, just like with any other USB card reader you'd use on a PC.

Dell Venue 8 Pro full review - The hardware: internal and external storage Dell Venue 8 Pro full review - The hardware: internal and external storage

Performances from this storage medium will be heavily dependent of the memory card you'll be using, although the card reader of the Venue 8 Pro could also bring its own limit towards transfer rates.

Dell Venue 8 Pro full review - The hardware: internal and external storage

On CrystalDiskMark, a SanDisk 8 GB Class 4 (filled up to 87%) gives transfer rates of 23.7 MB/second (read) and 5.4 MB/second (write). Rates which actually match those expected for a class 4 SD card.

Logically, you'll thus prefer using SD card storage only to store static data, or a few Windows Desktop applications not requiring much performance.

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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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