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Dell Venue Pro 8: Software and Performance

Michael Sawh

By Michael Sawh

Updated:

Summary

Our Score:

7

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Dell Venue Pro 8: Software

Ultimately, the ability to run a full version of Windows 8.1 and not limiting RT is the biggest appeal of owning something like the Venue Pro 8. You can install full desktop applications with a 32GB of hard drive space that's actually around 25GB. There is an alternative configuration so you can move up to 64GB and will cost you closer to £300. This means you are not restricted to downloading applications from the Windows Store, which still lags behind Google Play and Apple’s App Store for content.

For anyone who has used a Windows 8 tablet, the interface, charm bar and desktop mode will all be very familiar. The typical apps are included with Bing-powered content for sport, travel, health and fitness and food & drink all beautifully presented. Xbox powers music and gaming while Dell includes four maintenance-style applications to keep the tablet up to date.

The big sell is getting Microsoft Office Home and Student 2013 for free, turning this into a potentially great productivity tool. We say potentially, because to make the most of it you will need to invest in a Bluetooth keyboard, something that Dell does offer as a case or standalone format, but again is something you are going to have to pay extra for.

Typing away on a third-party Bluetooth keyboard is fine but our problems with getting the most of it is the fact that the classic desktop mode is not scaled to make it easy to use. The icons are too small to make and it's far too fussy trying to drag windows around the screen to make it a truly intuitive experience. You can pinch and zoom within windows, but it isn't enough to make working with it anything other than frustrating.

The scaling issue can also be extended to some apps like Netflix, which runs with borders instead of filling the whole screen and that could irritate some when the entire screen is not fully embraced.

We naturally spent most our time in tablet mode to search the web, play games from the Windows Store, watch movies and look at photos. That’s another issue that Microsoft needs to address, making the two more closely intertwined and not so alien from each other.

Rumours suggest the next Windows 8.1 update will integrate Metro apps into the Classic desktop mode and that could be a step in the right direction to make this operating system more suitable for an 8-inch tablet.

Dell Venue Pro 8: Performance

Like its rival 8-inch Windows tablets, the Dell Venue Pro 8 is powered by an Intel Atom Bay Trail quad-core chip with 2GB of RAM to handle multitasking. While not in the same league as Intel Core i3/i5/i7 processors it gives the Venue Pro 8 enough power to handle a full version of Windows and ensure the battery life is enough to make it through a least a day’s use. The Intel Atom Z3740 processor is clocked at 1.8Ghz, just slightly higher than the Toshiba Encore and certainly leaves us with a better impression.

For general navigation swiping around the UI, the Venue Pro 8 is a nice, zippy performer. It handles snapping apps for multitasking with little issue and games like Wreck-It Ralph run nice and smooth. It’s not all good news, though. The app loading times still grind and even trying to pair devices over Bluetooth can take an age to connect. Some of the more visually demanding games on the Windows Store like Avengers Initiative still suffer from some minor framerate drops, too.

Turning to the benchmarks, in the 3D Mark Ice Storm Unlimited gaming test the Venue Pro 8 scores a 15,005 beating the Toshiba Encore’s 14,024 score. It's still behind the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800-powered RT-based Nokia Lumia 2520 (16,123), though it outperforms the Microsoft Surface Pro 2 (13,557). In the Geekbench 3 Pro tests the Venue Pro 8 manages a 2,515 multi-core score, which is roughly around the same as the Nexus 7 (2523) and iPad mini 2 Retina (2551) manages. This suggests there is very little difference in raw performance, although we'd say the reality is iOS and Android are snappier and faster to load then Windows 8. The Venue Pro is still a marked improvement over the Encore, though that's more a reflection on how poor the Toshiba was.

Dell Venue Pro 8: Camera

If you want to take pictures of the selfie or scenic variety, Dell has included a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera and a 1.2-megapixel front-facing camera. The main camera delivers the kind of quality you'd expect from a budget phone with a fairly low-resolution sensor and very little in the way of software to take great pictures.

As the samples show below, the low-resolution sensor produces images that lack sharpness, look overprocessed and colours that are far from accurate. There's no LED flash so it's not going to be much help taking shots in low light and the front-facing camera is adequate for video calls and much less useful for photos. The HD video recording similarly suffers from the kind of noise and underwhelming quality that you are unlikely to swap your smartphone for filming in a hurry.

Dell Venue Pro 8 photos 2

The Dell Venue Pro 8 main camera captures average photos at best that lack sharpness

Dell Venue Pro 8 photos 4

Toshiba Encore 8-megapixel main camera (left) vs Dell Venue Pro 8 5-megapixel main camera (right)

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GaryMG

November 5, 2013, 3:33 pm

A great review on the http://winsupersite.com/. I want one of these, they can already be purchased on ebay for about £260 including tax etc, but will wait for UK release.

The reviews on here seem to be more and more anti Microsoft and pro apple. Not sure I trust the reviews here much now. All reviews can be summed up as Apple good, Microsoft=bad.

andyvan

November 5, 2013, 4:20 pm

Hmm, so we gave Windows 8.1 8/10 and recommended it:

http://www.trustedreviews.com/...

And we (infact I did) gave the Surface Pro 2 8/10 and recommended it:

http://www.trustedreviews.com/...

Care to revise your opinion?

mitchellvii

November 7, 2013, 2:39 pm

As a Surface Pro owner I thought I should give this a try as a lighter, longer lasting alternative.

For what it is, it works quite well. The Bay Trail processor seems to work without lag and the screen, for being relatively low resolution looks nice. The problem is that Microsoft destroyed font smoothing in Windows 8 (who knows why?) and fonts in IE look jaggy. For instance, the Samsung Note 8 has the same screen resolution yet fonts look far smoother. Blame that one on the engineers at MS who think font smoothing doesn't matter.

Is $299 a great deal? $299 + case + pen + keyboard + tax gets you into the $500+ range. Consider the fact you can get a used Surface Pro 1 with keyboard and case for around $550 to $600 now and it doesn't seem like such a great deal anymore.
Haven't tried the pen yet but word is it is pretty awful, even as awful N-trig pens go.

Actually for students, the pen was the thing which really sold this, but if the pen is as awful as they say, major problem there.

Mike

November 11, 2013, 3:33 pm

I don't see the jaggies. The screen is absolutely beautiful.

davidbeefbroth

December 10, 2013, 3:04 pm

I just bought one, and love it. Can you imagine if Apple did this? Made their iPad an open source Apple OSX device like this little beauty? Instead of being stuck in mobile everything and APP hell.

Gareth

January 29, 2014, 12:21 pm

I think you should remove the "Active Stylus" from the specs list, as i'd had one on order when I bought the Venue 8 Pro in December, and have since been told it's now out of production and that i am unable to get one in any circumstance...

sonisoe

January 29, 2014, 1:00 pm

i was gonna buy this one, until lenovo announced the thinkpad 8 (8" obviously).... hd, great battery life too, 3g - slighty a bit more expensive but am buying one...

Daedalus

January 29, 2014, 9:12 pm

Had a look at one of these but could not find one with the 4G option so no purchase yet. Got the Nexus 7 for Christmas and am not convinced, so may be going on EBay. However now really looking at the Lenovo ThinkPad 8, can't wait to see a review. Hint HINT TR.

Daedalus

MattMe

January 30, 2014, 9:02 am

Firstly - software 7/10? You can install any Windows application ever made. It has the ability to install anything you have ever installed on any Windows device. And you give it 7 out of 10? I get the app store still isn't great, but why would you even use it?
A full version of Windows running on a device 9mm thick with such good battery life.
This thing is amazing. I understand the comparisons to iPads etc, but this is a PC in the form-factor of a tablet. If it had HDMI out it would be perfect for so many things.
It's quite exciting that we've reached this point if you ask me.

TrancyTara

February 4, 2014, 9:25 am

I love my Dell Venue Pro 8 tablet, however I do take issue with a couple of things. Firstly, I hate how small everything is on the desktop. I can barely even use the stylus because even the tip of it is almost too large. Secondly, it came with Microsoft office and when I activated it with the activation key no icon for it ever showed up. When I originally got it there was an icon on the start screen. But when I tried to activate it, it kept telling me it needed more space. I finally reset it back to factory settings and it activated just fine but now I have no icon on either the desktop OR on the start screen. I have no idea what to do about either one of these issues..... which is unfortunate because, like I said earlier, I really love my tablet. Anyone have any suggestions?

Vance Morgan

March 5, 2014, 3:27 am

This always boggles my mind. There are more apps available on full Windows than IOS, Mac, Android, and Linux COMBINED. Windows is a massive ecosystem. You can even install any android app on full Windows via BlueStacks. there just isn't even a comparison. Every device running FULL windows should by default get a 10/10 on available apps. Every device using another OS (including windows RT) should be judged based on how far off they are from THE pacesetter that is windows. The rest are still playing catchup.

Vance Morgan

March 5, 2014, 3:29 am

You can make everything bigger. The same way you have been able to on windows since at least Windows XP. I believe by default the device uses something like 150% size for text and such on the desktop, but you can bump it up to 200% if you like. It will increase the size of taskbars, buttons, etc. The setting for desktop is separate for the settings for Modern style apps, which is a good thing.

RipOffBritain

March 8, 2014, 3:37 pm

Absolutely fantastic machine. A full blown PC for £150!!

Yes that's right, get a friend to pick one (several) up in the USA. They're less than $250

Only lack of hdmi is major flaw, but if you're not presenting that's not a huge issue

I wonder if it would've attracted a 9/10 score at its proper price?

Buy one (and a wedge mouse). You wont regret it

usa98055

March 19, 2014, 2:19 am

Serious design flaw with the micro usb charging port........Beware,

Dell supplied the wrong charging cable. The port is rectangular and the plug is trapezoidal so it can be plugged in either way, and if you plug it in wrong, you can bend or break the pin block. This is a serious design flaw and Dell needs to recall them all and replace the connector. I send my back to dell for not charging because of this issue. They didn't replace the connector, all they did just use a tool to bend the pin blocks back in place and send it back to me, Right now, when I put the supplied charging cable in, it still very wiggling and loose. Sometimes, it takes a couple tries to get it charge. It's a matter a time that I have to erase all the settings again and sent it back to Dell to fix for not charging. Dell screwed up the design and customers are paying for the mistake and troubles. This is 100% Dell's fault. They need to make right. I asked them for replacement and they said they won't exchange a new one even I only had this tablet about 100 days. They won't even replace the damaged connector. Stay away, their warranty are terrible. I used to have a lot of dell products and next time, I will look for some other brands instead. Dell's service is going down hill.

Xavier Happenstance

March 28, 2014, 12:36 pm

Here! Here!

Death89

May 8, 2014, 10:12 am

That port is a requirement of the USB Host feature (an AB type port i.e. the square one, is needed for USB OTG) not a design flaw. I have it on my Nokia N8 and it requires an noticeably greater force to insert it wrongly. Buyers need not beware, just don't shove things where they don't fit!

Nandhu

May 12, 2014, 9:45 am

In my dell pro 8 tablet the slot for inserting micro sim card is sealed ,what to do

Ritsujun

June 21, 2014, 7:27 am

You can't fix morons.

Nisha

July 12, 2014, 1:55 pm

How to switch on front camera in windows dell tablet?

Techgeek

August 20, 2014, 11:57 pm

I had same problem. It is very easy to break the pins with kids using it. Dell screwed the design and technical rep accepted it apologetically. He said 50% repairs are USB port. They corrected mine, but still the threat lingers. I have painted my cable white on the up side, so that it does not screw up again. Now another issue. Once tablet goes to sleep, it is almost impossible to wake it without restarting! The button never works. They say hold it for 2 seconds. I tried several ways. Dell designers know how to screw a great product like this one, and BTW this is not first time that they screwed up the design.

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