Dell Venue 8 Pro full review (04-13-2014) - Page list
1. Introduction and buyer's background
2. Technical specifications
3. Build quality, design, dimensions
4. Software ergonomics: Introduction
5. Software ergonomics: Windows Modern UI (codenamed "Metro")
6. Software ergonomics: Windows Classical Desktop
7. Hardware design: physical buttons
8. Hardware design: the connectors
9. The hardware: display/screen, ambient light sensor, gyroscope...
10. The hardware: performance/CPU/RAM, responsiveness
11. The hardware: internal and external storage
12. The hardware: graphics and gaming
13. The hardware: Photo, video and audio
14. The hardware: wireless networking
15. The hardware: battery life and cooling
16. Extended features - Wireless video display on external monitor (Miracast)
17. Extended features - The active digitizer/stylus: description and design
18. Extended features - The active digitizer/stylus: technical review
19. Conclusion, pros and cons
Installing a SSD (Solid-State Drive) in an IBM ThinkPad X31 (or any older computer providing only IDE ports) (05-19-2013)
Definition of software programming and development (12-04-2000)
The freeware concepts (12-04-2000)
The joy of emulation (12-04-2000)
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
With or without wire?
Unfortunately, the Dell Venue 8 Pro does not provide dedicated HDMI video output. If you want to use an external monitor or TV with this tablet, you'll have to choose between two alternative solutions.
To connect the Venue 8 Pro on an external display, you'll have to choose between:
- a wired connection, using a DisplayLink to USB adapter, which, depending of its features, will give you a video output with the format you'll need (DVI, VGA, HDMI..); you'll need to connect it on the tablet's micro-USB port using an OTG (On The Go) cable;
- a wireless connection, thanks to Miracast technology, natively supported by the tablet (and Windows 8.1), if you already own a Miracast-compatible display device (notably a TV).
This technology is similar to Apple's AirPlay, in a "standardized" version, managed by the Wi-Fi Alliance; through your Wi-Fi network, it can transfer both audio and video from an source device (the tablet) to a target receiver device (TV or other display device).
Pros and cons of each solution
- the wired connection is, theoretically, the most reliable to setup (better compatibility between devices, reduced latency) but it's also the most cluttered: it requires a lot of different cables and adapters (tablet ↔ OTG cable ↔ DisplayLink USB adapter ↔ video cable ↔ external display), which, altogether, can put a heavy strain on the tablet's frail micro-USB port, leading to irremediable damage on it;
- Miracast wireless connection can be the easiest to setup if your Miracast receiver (compatible TV, specialized adapter...) is compatible with the Venue 8 Pro. But if it's not the case, be prepared to face several issues related to drivers, bugs, slow or intermittent display... which can be difficult to diagnose.
Miracast review with the MINIX NEO X5 (Android 4.2)
If you don't own any Miracast-compatible device, you can purchase a Miracast-compatible adapter, which you'll then connect, through a wired connection (usually, an HDMI cable) on a standard display (computer monitor or TV).
I chose this solution to extend the display of the Venue 8 Pro to a non-Miracast compatible TV.
I selected, for this purpose, an Android-powered mini-PC, the NEO X5 from MINIX, which, after applying an operating system update ("Jelly Bean" 4.2 version), added support for Miracast, through a dedicated application named "WifiDisplay".
You have to follow these steps:
- enable Wi-Fi on both devices
- connect them on the same wireless network (Wi-Fi access point)
- from the NEO X5, run the WifiDisplay application
- from the Venue 8 Pro, toggle the Charms Bar, then select Devices > Project > Add a wireless display.
The MINIX NEO X5 is then detected as a wireless display; you'll then have to tap on it, follow the pairing procedures, and voilà, your tablet's display is cloned on your external display!
Until very recently, Miracast wasn't working in "Mirror" mode (exact copy of the tablet's screen contents on the external display), but only in Extended Desktop mode. Such situation was caused by a bug in Windows 8.1 preventing a Portrait-orientable device from being displayed on a Landscape-orientation monitor.
This bug has been since fixed by Microsoft.
And, as a result, I must admit that pairing the Venue 8 Pro with the NEO X5 fulfilled all my needs:
I succeeded in:
- displaying any type of contents, including HD videos, on the external screen, without any noticeable latency, with an average-quality Wi-Fi connection;
- displaying an exact copy of the tablet's screen on the external display (Mirroring mode), but, in my case, the tablet scaled its screen resolution to match the one used on the TV, which was 1280x720 ("HD Ready" 720p) instead of the tablet's native 1280x800 pixels;
- displaying an extended desktop on the second monitor; but this setup requires an external keyboard and mouse combo, as you can't transpose, obviously, your finger taps from the tablet's screen to the external display!
Miracast tests conclusion
The only drawback of my Miracast solution (and many other Miracast/DisplayLink adapters) is... the price.
I had to spend €109 for the MINIX NEO X5. A rather high price if you only intend to use it as a Miracast adapter; but if, like me, you're willing to use it for other purposes (unleashing the full potential of a true Android environment on your TV, to read videos, listen to music, play games...), this investment will soon be worth it.
There are many Miracast (and DisplayLink) adapters on the market, available within all price ranges.
Most user feedback often advise to avoid entry-level adapters (around €20), which often lead to inconsistent results when they're partially or totally incompatible with the Venue 8 Pro: hard or impossible-to-install drivers, external display glitches, slowdowns or freezes...
The Netgear Push4TV PTV3000 Miracast adapter is one of the most popular available, but it can also lead to some erratic behavior and issues, like those described above.