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Dell Venue 8 Pro full review - Extended features - The active digitizer/stylus: description and design - IT tutorials, reviews and articles
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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
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

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The Dell Venue 8 Pro comes with a Synaptics stylus-enabled touchscreen technology.

This technology enabled to use an "active" stylus with this tablet, which you can purchase separately from Dell.

Dell Venue 8 Pro full review - Extended features - The active digitizer/stylus: description and design

Stylus technologies: active vs. capacitive

An "active" stylus (or "digitizer"), compared to a standard stylus known as "capacitive", sports some embedded electronics, so the tablet can detect it properly and react accordingly.

The capacitive stylus

A capacitive stylus does not integrate any electronics, and, thus, is nothing more than a bare "pencil" with a specific tip, simulating your finger's electrical conduction process, so they can work with touchscreens also known as "capacitive" (like all those from smartphones and tablets released these last years).

With this kind of stylus, you'll thus not be able to execute other actions than those you'd usually trigger with your finger, except for added precision (the stylus' tip being thinner than your fingers, it can help you selecting very small elements from screen, like those from the Windows 8 Classic Desktop, on the small Venue 8 Pro 8" screen).

The active stylus ("digitizer")

Unlike a capacitive stylus, an "active" stylus, thanks to its embedded electronics, helps you triggering much more actions and behaviors (many of them being impossible to achieve with your finger alone):

  • simulate the mouse hovering on an element(touchscreen's hovering detection);
  • detect different pressure levels: when drawing or handwriting, higher will be the pressure on the screen, thicker will be the drawn line, just like a real pencil on a real paper;
  • enable the tablet to detect your palm's position on the screen (e.g. when drawing) and prevent it from accidentally triggering on-screen elements (windows, buttons) with this palm;
  • an active stylus can also feature physical buttons, allowing you to trigger some additional actions (like simulating an eraser on drawing software to clear previously drawn lines).

Dell active stylus features

The active stylus designed by Dell for the Venue 8 Pro comes with 256-level pressure detection, dual customizable button, palm detection/rejection and screen hovering, and requires an AAAA battery (LR-61) to work.

Dell Venue 8 Pro full review - Extended features - The active digitizer/stylus: description and design

The Synaptics technology used on the Dell tablet being different from those used by competing manufacturers (such as Wacom), you'll NOT be able to use other stylus than the one provided by Dell for the Venue 8 Pro. Another manufacturer/technology choice would have been interesting to benefit from better features: more pressure levels, better precision, battery-free design...

Stylus aesthetics and design

The Dell stylus sports an appealing, discrete design, closer to a real pen, and doesn't look like an electronic gadget. It's feeling nice in hands, not too thin or too thick, and the battery's weight is barely noticeable.

However, its lightweight plastic body makes it rather fragile (you'll have to be careful and avoid tramping or sitting on it...) and slippery (a grip would have been perfect).

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Extended features - The active digitizer/stylus: technical review
Conclusion, pros and cons

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