Dell Venue 8 Pro: 24-hour initial review

This is the Dell Venue 8 Pro I picked up last night from fedex. I haven’t owned it long enough to really give a thorough end-user review discussing any potential problems that may crop up, but I wanted to give a general hands-on description of the device after a day or two, so here we are.

Windows On An Atom: Does it Fuse?

The basic hardware for the Venue 8 Pro is exceptionally light. There are Android phones and tablets that have these exact specs, or nearly so. The difference is that Windows 8 is not an (exceptionally powerful) mobile operating system; it is a desktop operating system with desktop features, including a full-blown file system, right-click menus, piles of administrative tools, and so on. Basicallly, there is a LOT of overhead to Windows, and I had my doubts about the Atom processor and 2 Gigabytes of RAM being able to run it well.

Fortunately, so far I have been wrong. I’ve had as many as eleven applications running simultaneously and the processor and RAM simply do not get stressed with Metro-style applications, as you can see below:

From these results I can only guess that Intel, Dell, and Microsoft worked extremely closely together on the new Atom processor, tablet, and W8.1-easily as closely as Google works with Nexus partners, or Apple works with itself. While I typically saw higher than 2% of the CPU being utilized-it was closer to 30%, typically, and when I briefly gave Metro Chrome a try it spiked all the way to 95%-that it’s running 11 applications and 30 background processes simultaneously and still has prodigous RAM and CPU reserves if needed are genuinely impressive. There’s a few 11-inch 8.1 devices with nearly identical specs as the Venue 8 Pro and I’d be inclined to give some serious work a try on them with the added screen space.

Attention to Detail: Splitscreen apps and battery life

One of the more directly user-facing improvements to the Metro environment in 8.1 is that all apps can now run in a fully adjustable for width splitscreen mode. Also, if you are in an app when a notification for another app comes in, you can select the notification and the two apps will automatically go splitscreen, allowing you to push one or the other off the screen or run both simultaneously if wanted. There is prodigous space for dual apps on the device’s eight-inch screen:

This, honestly, is a fantastic implementation of split screen-especially the automatic splitting for selecting a notification. This is an incredible time-saver-if whatever you clicked on was unimportant, you just push the app off the screen and your original app slides over to take the space back.

Battery life is similarly fantastic. I unplugged from power at about eight AM this morning and only used fifty percent over six hours of continual use-I have used it fairly lightly since then, and it’s dropped to about thirty percent in the last eight hours. This is simply incredible. I am pushing fourteen hours of total battery time with approximately eight total hours of use in that and the Venue is still a long way from dead.

Not fancy or beautiful, but sturdy and workmanlike

Let me be clear: The above is not an insult at Dell. The Venue 8 Pro feels great in the hands, with a lightly textured plastic back and sides, and relatively minimal ports, to include a micro SD card slot, speaker port, Windows key, mini-USB charging port, and headphone jack. General photos are below.

Size comparison with an iPhone 5S.

Size comparison with an iPad 4.

Usb charging port, power button, volume rocker, and micro-SD port.

Speaker port. 

Headphone jack and Windows button.

The Trouble With Google

Since W8.1’s release, Google has publically stated that it will not be building additional Metro applications beyond their general Google search & web apps application. This, quite frankly, is inexcusable and juvenile behaviour for a major Internet company to be undertaking, and happily, third-party developers have stepped up to provide Google services to Windows 8. I personally use Drive, Gmail, Google Plus, Google Music, and occasionally Google Books, and all of them except for Books and Plus can be found in quality third-party applications. I’ve listed these below for people who are interested:

Google Drive Pro ($4):

http://apps.microsoft.com/windows/en-us/app/gdrive-pro/f4fa743f-3d8e-45ee-9ccf-bfa760fac209

Toasts And Tiles for Gmail (Free):

http://apps.microsoft.com/windows/en-us/app/c07d5bbf-e9bd-47f2-95d0-f1cea27e9f02

GMusicW:

http://apps.microsoft.com/windows/en-us/app/939f0859-1413-4a52-9ab6-6e50405c8c2e

General Thoughts

As I’ve said above, I have not owned this tablet very long, but its a very solid first impression. I’ll be writing a few updates as time goes on.

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2 thoughts on “Dell Venue 8 Pro: 24-hour initial review

  1. Thank you for a nicely done review Charles. I have read that if the screen brightness id left on auto the image quality may suffer a bit but the battery life is better. Did you leave the brightness on auto for your first day of use?

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