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Dell Venue Pro 11: Keyboard, Trackpad and Verdict

By Mike Jennings



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Dell Venue Pro 11


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Dell Venue 11 Pro: Keyboard & Trackpad

The Venue 11 Pro's proper keyboard is good: the Scrabble-tile keys are spaced well apart, and they’re large enough to encourage rapid tapping. There’s a full-size UK double-height Return key, and there’s enough room to ensure that Dell hasn’t fudged the layout elsewhere.

Dell Venue 11 Pro

The typing action impresses, too, as each key has plenty of travel and a consistent, light action – we’ve used full-blown Ultrabooks that haven’t been as comfortable. Microsoft may have improved the Surface’s fabric-covered keyboard on its latest tablet – we likened it to "a really, really good touchscreen keyboard" – but the Dell’s physical keys are better. The Venue is also the match of the physical keyboard included with the Asus Transformer.

The trackpad makes up for its lack of height with plenty of width, and the smooth surface and two buttons are all larger and more responsive than the Asus and Surface Pro’s equivalents.

Dell Venue 11 Pro

Dell’s cheaper slim keyboard also uses physical keys, but they’re not as satisfying. There’s barely any travel – less than a millimetre – and a lot less space between the keys. The lack of feedback from every button is irritating, and the cheap-feeling plastic used throughout means this peripheral isn’t as comfortable under the finger as Microsoft’s equivalent.

Other things to consider

Several different Venue configurations lower the price of our £699 version. The next model down costs £629 thanks to a Haswell-based Core i3 processor, and there’s a larger drop to the £429 model – although this cheaper system makes do with a Bay Trail-based Atom chip, a 32-bit OS, weaker integrated graphics, a smaller SSD and half the RAM. A £499 system is also available that shares its specification with the £429 version but also includes a wireless broadband card.

Every Venue 11 Pro has a one-year collect and return warranty, and each tablet can be improved with accidental damage protection. It’s not as versatile a support offering as we’re used to seeing from Dell, but it’s a better option than Microsoft’s one-year limited hardware deal.

Dell Venue 11 Pro

Also, while Dell’s accessories are decent, none of them come cheap. The tablet keyboard with its second battery is £176, and the slim keyboard costs £117, which is more than the £99 Surface cover despite both products offering the same functionality. A docking station with extra ports is £147 and the stylus, when it’s available, will be £37.

The Venue has a 2MP front camera and an 8mp rear shooter. The former unit is fine for Skype calls, although it lacks sharpness and struggles in low light conditions. The rear camera is better, but its shots are still a little too dark.

The Venue is furnished with a dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi card, but it’s a 2x2 MIMO model that won’t be as rapid as a three-antenna unit. Dell’s spec sheet lists an 802.11ac option for machines with a Core i5 vPro processor, but that’s not available to buy right now.

Dell Venue 11 Pro

Should I Buy the Dell Venue 11 Pro?

There’s no doubt that the Dell is a capable rival for the Surface Pro 2 at the high-end of the Windows 8 tablet market thanks to its sturdy build quality and versatile design, and its Core i5 processor and 1080p screen are easily good enough to get most jobs done – even if they’re bettered by Microsoft’s hardware.

If you just need a tablet, there’s no doubt Dell offers better deals: the £699 Core i5 model and £629 Core i3 version both come with 128GB of storage space and are both cheaper than the most affordable Surface Pro 2, which costs £719 but only has a 64GB SSD.

The Venue remains competitive when accessories are considered. Dell’s keyboard unit with second battery costs £176, which means the two Core-powered Venues cost either £805 or £875 – with Microsoft’s two cheapest Surface Pros with Type Covers costing £829 and £909. The Surface might have a better processor, but we’d rather have the Venue, with its great keyboard and second battery.

Both machines are undercut by the Asus, which is an ideal machine for less intensive work, but we can only recommend the Transformer if you’re on a serious budget – its included keyboard makes it much better value than the equivalent Dell tablets, but it’s hampered by an Atom processor and a mediocre screen.

At the high-end, and in business, the Dell is the better option: it’s got enough power, a good screen, a great keyboard and plenty of flexibility when it comes to specifications, prices and accessories.


The Dell Venue Pro 11 is an excellent, cheaper alternative to the Surface Pro 2. If you want a Windows 8 hybrid for serious work then the Pro 11 has you covered.

Next, read our tablet buyer's guide or take a look at our round-up of the best Windows 8 laptops and tablets

Overall Score


Scores In Detail

  • Battery Life 9
  • Build Quality 9
  • Design 9
  • Heat & Noise 9
  • Performance 7
  • Screen Quality 8
  • Value 8

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October 2, 2013, 10:32 pm

What's the weight in total with keyboard?


October 3, 2013, 5:01 pm

won't get i7. the i5 will be the highest available for this model


October 8, 2013, 9:59 am

the fingerprint can anybody have it or only the corporat ?


November 4, 2013, 2:58 am



November 4, 2013, 3:00 am

Intel® Core™ i5 4210Y processor (3MB Cache, 1.5 GHz Dual -Core)
Intel® Core™ i5 4300Y processor (3MB Cache, 1.6 GHz Dual -Core)
Other UNTRUSTED thing :
"Dell Venue Pro 11 is not a thing of beauty"


Frank Bales

November 8, 2013, 10:36 pm

What about the stylus? Already heard there are problems with it, but what problems?

Liz Smeltz

February 5, 2014, 9:30 pm

Waited 2 months to get my tablet. Tablet seems to be okay. The detachable keyboard will not function-there is a serious defect. I spent more than 6 hours in two sessions with two different keyboards and Dell was never able to get the keyboard to function. I spoke to a supervisor and they acknowledge they have a design defect. Keyboards did not work at all once they were docked. I do not have time to be their product tester. This is a known problem and they still shipped. The keyboard has a tiny tiny light on left side to indicate it is in charge mode. Charging has to be done with the charger from the computer and the connection is beside the docking locks at the rear of the keyboard-very difficult to connect. Will not charge via the tablet if you have the tablet charging. POOR DESIGN ALL THE WAY AROUND. Both keyboards are being sent back. Will not bother with them.
Technical support is very nice but this keyboard SHOULD HAVE NEVER BEEN RELEASED. Shame on Dell Engineering and Manufacturing.


March 17, 2014, 10:04 pm

I'd give it a 5/10 for value, and a 7/10 overall. Hard to see how it managed a 9/10 when it's far from perfect.

Paul Grove

June 6, 2014, 11:15 am

There are 3 versions of the dell venue 11 pro, and I think some reviews overlook the cheaper atom based version of the tablet. I got my tablet (with the mobile internet option) at an auction (not online), I wasn't expecting to buy it, but having used it for a a few weeks here is my review of the tablet.

The Good:

Running a 32bit version of windows 8, the tablet is capable of running any application that you could normally run on a desktop PC.

The latest atom processor isn't a power house, however I have been more than impressed with its performance. The tablet boots up exceptionally quickly, in under 30 seconds. and the user interface is as smooth as butter, web browsing is a breeze, and scrolling is smooth on even the most complex of websites.

Performance wise, I have no benchmarks to give you, but as an example, I've installed steam, and have installed and played a few games, including Portal 2, plugged in an xbox 360 controller (into the full size usb port) and it played perfectly well at a decent framerate, albeit with some of the graphical options turned down, it was very impressive. Also Civ5 works well too!

Not specific to this tablet, Steam's new in-house streaming works very well also, allowing me to play my steam games at full graphics, streamed from my desktop onto the tablet while around the house. I'm seriously considering buying the dock to use the tablet as a games console connected to the TV.

I've also installed XBMC and MythTV, and being able to watch TV over a network share throughout the house is a joy.

I am a software developer, and while my intended purpose for the tablet is more entertainment rather than productivity, I've installed my usual array of software tools, (cygwin, scp/ftp clients, git, vim, etc), all of which start up and run just as well as they do on my powerhouse desktop. However with a weak processor and only 2GB of ram, its not like I'm going to be spinning up any Virtual Machines or anything.

The screen is beautifull, better than a lot of other tablets I've seen, although as mentioned in many reviews, disable the auto brightness - it just gets it wrong all the time.

And also its worth mentioning that the cheap atom model has no fans or moving parts and is completely silent, the more expensive i5 has exhaust fans.

Battery life is amazing. I dunno, I havn't timed it, it can run all day like a mobile phone, even with fairly heavy use (see playing portal 2) then if you get the keyboard it lasts even longer. The review above says they expect the slightly smaller battery in the cheaper model means that it will last even less - but they havnt taken into account that the atom processer draws a lot less power, and that there are no fans to run, I have no proof, but judging by the above review, I recon that the battery lasts longer in the cheaper model.

The the atom version is comparably good value, I got mine for £350 at auction, and I see on ebay that the device can be had for a similar price. Even direct from dell the atom processor version is only £439 far cheaper the Microsoft Surface 2, and far more usefull running windows 8 rather than the very limited windows RT. while slightly more expensive that the Asus T100, the dell has a better screen, and the build quality is apparently higher.

There are two types of keyboard for the Dell, other reviews say the mobile (bigger) keyboard is far nicer and has an extra battery, so that is the one I bought. It's nice to type on, and although it has no numpad (or even alt keys for the numpad). it does have everything else, including everything one might need to write code :)

The keyboard essentially turns the tablet into a laptop, great if you can't decided what type of device you actually want (like me), or if you need the flexibility.

Finally windows 8 actually works OK on a tablet, even if it doesn't seem to make sense on a regular desktop PC.

The Bad:

Dell's update software - out of the box - seemed broken, I wanted to update to the latest drivers using the included dell software, and it seemed to a) not show all the available updates, b) fail to install the optional updates that it did find.

I thought I had updated my tablet to the latest drivers, however it turned out that I was 3 or 4 versions behind.

Without the latest drivers the tablet was jittery and crashed a lot, the wifi was slow for no reason, and the tablet battery would discharge before the additional keyboard battery - making it useless.

I found however that if I went to the dell website and entered my service tag id there were many updates - most importantly the bios update to version A07 and the latest wireless driver and a few registry fixes that sort out connection issues with the keyboard, now I have no complaints, the device works perfectly.

After installing these updates manually, the dell update software seemed to sort itself out and I think it is detecting new updates correctly now and more importantly the device is performing really well.

Dell deserve a lot of flak for releasing a device with so many issues and they deserve even more flak for their driver update software not working correctly - I'm sure there are many people out there who do not realise that their devices are not up to date, and are putting up with an unreliable and buggy device.

I'm sure this has heavily hurt the reputation of Dell and this device.

However if you manually update then, in my case at least, I'm exceptionally happy.

Other negatives for the cheaper version at least, is the limited drive space, 64GB is not a lot, your left with closer to 40GB after taking into account the windows installation, and if you install large games and applications then you quickly run out.

While the tablet is cheap, it doesnt come with the keyboard or dock, and both are expensive, pushing up the price of the tablet. (ebay saved me a lot of money here).


The tablet far exceeded my expectations, well, after fully updating the device anyway. I didn't believe the atom processor and integrated graphics would work so well.

The device - after updating is rock solid - Everything is working as it should do, and the device hasn't rebooted in over a week (my shell I opened last week is still open and running!).

Space is limited on my cheaper model but I've put a 64GB SD card into my tablet and this helps a lot, I've moved my games and larger applications onto the SD card, the games load slower - but it works. (if you do use a SD card, reformat it as NTFS, I had a lot of issues with exFAT).

My impulse buy at the auction really paid off for me, and after looking at the alternatives in detail, I think I have the right tablet. I don't feel like I need or even want the more powerful i5 version of the Venue 11 Pro (although I do slightly envy the larger SSD), and I don't miss android or iOS, preferring the ability to run regular windows applications, windows RT is a big fail.

This device is useful. I feared that if I got a tablet would end up in a drawer unused - so I didn't want to spend a huge amount on one. But I don't have this fear any more, me and my wife use the tablet every day, its a second portable TV and a comfortable device for web browsing, a travel laptop for when we go away, and even unexpectedly a portable gaming platform and a power game console for the TV (xbox 360 controllers highly recommended).

Highly recommended. 9/10. One of my best purchases.


June 27, 2014, 3:09 pm

Dell Venue 11 Pro. I purchased this tablet the other day, I am not impressed, poor build quality, cheaply made, screen response issues, even when the BIOS, Touchscreen updates have been applied, I sent this tablet back for a refund the same day and purchased an Acer iconia W700 I5 well what can I say so much better than the DVP 11, quick, responsive, solid build quality, plus you get keyboard/cover and micro hdmi to vga in the box. Avoid DVP 11.


April 7, 2016, 4:58 pm

A piece of junk; no other words to describe it. Do not buy any tablets or laptops from DELL. Cheaply made. Stopped charging less than 6 months of ownership, sent back under warranty, fixed it, then not quite a year later, stopped charging all together. Nada. Read the horror stories on Dell's community website after I had purchased this piece of junk; not too many comments before purchase, and some owners described their thing of beauty with missing parts. Never purchase computers from DELL, equivalent to purchasing from WALMART.

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