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Dell Venue 8 Pro full review - The hardware: wireless networking - IT tutorials, reviews and articles


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
The hardware: graphics and gaming
The hardware: Photo, video and audio
The hardware: wireless networking

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The Dell Venue 8 Pro offers two or three wireless network technologies: Wi-Fi (802.11n 2x2 MIMO), Bluetooth (4.0) and HSPA+ through a micro-SIM card (if you ordered your tablet with this option).

To maximize battery life, and even more in sleep mode, these three wireless technologies can be disabled anytime from the Charms bar, either by using the Airplane mode (which disables all three) or by disabling each technology separately.

Dell Venue 8 Pro full review - The hardware: wireless networking

Wi-Fi 802.11n 2x2 MIMO

The Dell Venue 8 Pro provides Wi-Fi through a Dell Wireless 1538 card, which supports 802.11 standard in a, b, g and n versions, which can go up to 450 Mbps.

This card is dual band 2x2 MIMO capable, supporting 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz frequencies. You'll thus be able to connect to more networks, or use an alternate band at home to prevent interferences with other electrical equipment.

In real life, the differences can be spotted when compared to another single band device: more than once, the tablet detected more Wi-Fi hotspots, with better signal, than my Sony Xperia Pro smartphone.

Back when the tablet was released, Dell had to struggle with many issues related to Wi-Fi, just like complete connectivity loss after putting the tablet into sleep or Airplane modes, with no other choice than rebooting the tablet to restore wireless connections!

These bugs still sometimes appear on my own tablet in March 2014. Let's hope that the situation will soon be better thanks to future updates!

Dell Venue 8 Pro full review - The hardware: wireless networking

HSPA+/3G connectivity (optional)

As a buy-to-order option, and only on the 64 GB model as far as I know, the Dell Venue 8 Pro can be equipped with an HSPA+ Dell Wireless 5570 card, which can host a micro-SIM phone card, like those from many smartphones, so you can use a phone data plan to access the Internet in places without Wi-Fi access, just like you'd do with your telephone.

I insist on the fact that only the micro SIM (3FF) format is supported. If you currently use a mini-SIM (original format, known as 2FF, widely spread, until micro SIM started to emerge on smartphones), you'll have to cutoff your card to insert it into the V8P. And if you're using a nano SIM card (4FF: iPhone 5, Nokia Lumia 1520), you'll have to get another SIM card; there are some nano SIM to micro SIM adapters available, but these ones can permanently damage the port's contacts if the product is poorly designed. So, be careful!

By default, the micro SIM slot is enabled on the tablet, even if no card has been inserted into it. Although I don't really know if it can really have an impact on the overall battery life, I recommend you to disable this module (from the Charms bar) if your tablet offers one, and if you don't use it at the moment.

Bluetooth 4.0

Bluetooth allows this tablet to connect wirelessly with other Bluetooth-enabled devices, such as:

  • audio equipment (headphones, car players, speakers...)
  • image management devices (printers, scanners, digital cameras...)
  • input devices (keyboard, mouse, touchpad, gamepad...)

This technology also allows you to connect the tablet to other devices (such as cellular phones or computers) to transfer and receive files, directly, without any additional hardware requirement (such as a router), but with slower speeds than Wi-Fi, and narrower network coverage.

Bluetooth version 4.0 brings reduced power consumption over previous versions, an essential point for a tablet.

When paired with a Windows 7 Professional computer (Dell Precision M6600), the tablet offers the following Bluetooth services and profiles:

  • Audio listening device (to transfer sound from your computer to your tablet, and use it as a small portable speaker system)
  • Touch-enabled remote control
  • File transfer (OBEX)

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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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