Dell Venue 8 Pro

heatlesssun

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Place an order for the 64 GB version of this on 10/18 but that order got delayed it looks until 11/21 and after seeing all of the hub bub about this device over on TabletPCReview.com I picked up the 32 GB version at Walmart last night. I should get the pen and case on Tuesday.

Overall this is an impressive piece of hardware for $300. The two obvious knocks against it are the not so great digital pen, which is unfortunate as this this is the perfect size for on the go inking. And the other is the like of hardwired video output. This thing with the new Bay Trail Atom is actually pretty zippy, certainly nothing like even a Clover Trail, a very significant improvement over that and fast enough to run a lot of desktop apps, so being able to attach it to an external monitor and use it as a workstation would have been great.

The screen is fantastic even if a big low res, but at 125% scaling the desktop does work reasonably well with touch, I've been able to install and use Office and Chrome via touch with no major problems, though real estate can get tight with Office and the onscreen keyboard. The battery lasted me about 8 hours of continuous use from web browsing to video playback to listening to streaming music over Bluetooth, not the best but for a 14 ounce x86 device that performs reasonably well, that's a pretty solid.

I'll wait see when the pen comes if it works for me well enough to give up video output, which the other 8" Windows 8 devices have, but none of them have a digital pen. It does look like though the issue of inexpensive Windows tablets has been solved with Bay Trail. Good performance, battery life and thermals that can fit in the same package as a mobile OS mini-tablet. That's impressive.
 

Climber

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Thanks for the heads up on this. I'm holding out waiting for the 11, but have been checking out the SP 2 here locally. Loving what I see though, so might just wait and grab the Sp2 now.
 

heatlesssun

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Yeah, this thing is no way a competitor of the Venue 11 Pro or SP 2, it's small and relatively inexpensive and that's the beauty of if.
 

pxc

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I kind of want a Venue 11 Pro with Haswell-Y, but I can't justify the price difference vs "just a Windows tablet" like the Venue 8 Pro and leave laptop duties to a laptop I already have.

I'm going to have to check it out at Best Buy or Fry's to get a feel for it. It sounds good, especially for the price.
 

newster

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heatlesssun

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Yeah, a Wacom digitizer and a HDMI out would have made the V8P perfect, but I guess Dell was trying to keep to the costs down because it's still a very nice device and those two things probably aren't deal breakers for the average tablet consumer, though they are kind of a big deal to old school Windows tablet users.

Bay Trail does seem to be the real deal though. If Atoms had had this kind of performance when they came out netbooks would have been a smashing success. As Atoms go to 14mn and improve in performance there should be a lot of interesting devices coming with incredible battery life.
 

heatlesssun

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Amazon is selling the 32 GB for $253 right now, wow. Looks like Dell is trying to push as many of these things as it can.
 

swatbat

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Yea I saw this thing and it looks really interesting. I'm thinking of picking one up next time dell's dcn dept gives me a gift card.

To me I see these things as a potential replacement for a traditional tablet. You get to keep your standard apps. I gotta say the venue 11 with its dock seems pretty sweet as well. Guess we will see when the surface 2 pro gets its dock next year.
 

heatlesssun

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$433 for that hardware is incredible really. Even $550 is a decent price for this device. If it had a Wacom digitizer I certainly would have picked one up.
 

Deinos

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Looks like the price just went back up, it was $253 when I posted.

Will have to keep an eye on this. A steal at that price. If only the pen input was solid :( Is this a driver issue? or is it a hardware issue that will be insurmountable til the next rev?
 

CEpeep

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Wish I'd gotten in on the $253 price. Now I have to wait until it goes on sale again. Thanks for the mini-review, looking forward to your experiences with the pen. I've seen some videos that make it seem terrible, but I'm hoping they can fix it with some software updates or something. No point in buying a $35 stylus if the ink support sucks, I'd rather just use a $5 capacitive pen.
 

heatlesssun

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Yeah, I'm hoping that there's some type of driver or firmware fix that can at least improve the issue. I've had several N-trig devices that have similar issues but the inking was still decent enough to be usable for handwriting to text conversion and smaller note taking chores in OneNote.

For $300 I am very impressed by this little thing, it's certainly the fastest Windows device I've ever used in the price range and the screen is wonderful. Paul Thurrott has an opinion piece out today on Windows 8 mini-tablets that I agree with overall: http://windowsitpro.com/mobile/need-know-rise-windows-mini-tablet

The two major gripes he noted, lack of maturity in modern apps and lack of digital pens, though he's confused about the Venue 8 Pro which does have a digital pen, just not a good one. It's hard for me to peg these things. It seems that most people are impressed by the V8P if for no other reasons than price, which is a big deal obviously, and the overall quality and capability of the hardware, and I would assume that the Miix 8 and Toshiba Encore will be roughly the same and they have video out though no digital pen.

Thurrott stated last week that the goal inside Microsoft is to sell 16 million tablets this quarter. Not sure how realistic that it is but without these cheaper 8" devices there would be no why that would be possible.
 

Deinos

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Yeah, I'm hoping that there's some type of driver or firmware fix that can at least improve the issue. I've had several N-trig devices that have similar issues but the inking was still decent enough to be usable for handwriting to text conversion and smaller note taking chores in OneNote.

For $300 I am very impressed by this little thing, it's certainly the fastest Windows device I've ever used in the price range and the screen is wonderful. Paul Thurrott has an opinion piece out today on Windows 8 mini-tablets that I agree with overall: http://windowsitpro.com/mobile/need-know-rise-windows-mini-tablet

The two major gripes he noted, lack of maturity in modern apps and lack of digital pens, though he's confused about the Venue 8 Pro which does have a digital pen, just not a good one. It's hard for me to peg these things. It seems that most people are impressed by the V8P if for no other reasons than price, which is a big deal obviously, and the overall quality and capability of the hardware, and I would assume that the Miix 8 and Toshiba Encore will be roughly the same and they have video out though no digital pen.

Thurrott stated last week that the goal inside Microsoft is to sell 16 million tablets this quarter. Not sure how realistic that it is but without these cheaper 8" devices there would be no why that would be possible.

Thanks for the link. Have been appreciating Thurrott's coverage so far in lieu of a full review. Seems like a pretty great little tablet. Very curious how the Lenovo Miix 8 stacks up to it in light of the pen issues. Might turn out that whatever capacitive pen option Lenovo delivers might be as good as the Dell pen based on the preliminary reviews and comments out there.

Ideally, would love to get a hold of a Thinkpad Tablet 3, but I have been hearing rumors that it won't be seeing the light of day until some time in 2014... and at this point, I don't want to wait that long.

Looking forward to seeing Thurrott's final verdict, most likely later this week or next.
 

heatlesssun

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I would imagine that all of these devices will be very comparable with slight variations in weight and size, battery life and screen quality. The biggest difference feature is that digital pen with the Dell and no video out.
 

heatlesssun

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The more I use this thing the more impressed I am with it. It's hard to believe that this is an Atom. Got Visual Studio 2013 Express for Windows (which is only for Windows Store apps) and it runs very well, well enough to be more than practical. Of course that needs a keyboard and mouse and the screen is too small to use for extended periods of time, they really needed a video out on this. I'll see what the word is on using Miracast, it just begs to be used with larger screens because it's so zippy on the desktop.

I think we may have some winners with these 8" devices, modern apps work very well and the desktop can be useful particularly with hooked to a larger screen, which all the other 8" Windows 8 devices can do. Should have the pen this afternoon. If that works reasonably well and Miracast proves to be useful, I'll be very pleased.
 

Deinos

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Just reading the owner's thread over at TabletPCReview. Word is there is a firmware update coming for the stylus next week. If it provides even a modicum of improvement, it would be huge.
 

heatlesssun

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Saw this going around over there with supposedly a rep from Dell saying that this would drop next week. Hopefully this is true as it seems that this is the biggest problem with the device thus far. There does seem to be a great deal of confusion about the pen, that's one of the problems with Windows tablets in general, it can get complicated trying to figure out all of the hardware and options on some of these devices and the OEMs don't do a particularly good job getting out information.
 

heatlesssun

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Just got the pen and it's a bit better than I expected but essentially suffering from the issues that people have been pointing out. I'm using the pen in the handwriting to text input panel and it's actually useable. Played with OneNote a bit and it's pretty rough going there.

I think it is something that can be fixed with drivers or firmware, it feels like something of a timing issue, not at all like the vectoring that early N-Trig drivers had.
 

Deinos

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Just got the pen and it's a bit better than I expected but essentially suffering from the issues that people have been pointing out. I'm using the pen in the handwriting to text input panel and it's actually useable. Played with OneNote a bit and it's pretty rough going there.

I think it is something that can be fixed with drivers or firmware, it feels like something of a timing issue, not at all like the vectoring that early N-Trig drivers had.

Thanks for the update. Does the pen respond well in regards to pressure sensitivity?
 

heatlesssun

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Just played around with pressure sensitivity in OneNote and Fresh Paint and it's there but nothing like a Wacom device. Adjusted the tip of the pen a little bit and got a little better performance out of it in OneNote.
 

Deinos

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not there in that it is not accurate? laggy? or just far less lvls of sensitivity overall?
 

heatlesssun

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Maybe lag was the wrong term to use. There's a "delay" in strokes forming sometimes when the pen makes contact with the screen. But the bigger problem is the "delay" in the stroke stopping once the penis lifted. It almost feels like a timing issue to me. This is with handwriting in OneNote and the handwriting to text conversion. Drawing in Fresh Paint seemed to not experience this problem though pressure wasn't very good. It seemed to require to much physical pressure with the pen on the screen surface but it was responsive to pressure.
 

Deinos

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Thanks for all of the updates. Will be curious to hear what you think if/when that firmware update drops.
 

heatlesssun

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No problem and it looks like many are interested in this update. Being able to run desktop OneNote on a device like this would make an a fantastic tablet for students. Dell looks to have put a lot of effort into this thing and hopefully they appreciated that getting the pen to work reasonably well is major for this device.

I guess that's the thing that's always frustrated me about OEMs and their Windows tablets. They have to understand the major issues with the things before they ship but then ship them with those flaws anyway. Hopefully this was something Dell knew it could fix or at least mostly fix before they green lighted the device and decided to start shipping and come back with a fix later. Otherwise, it's an excellent tablet for the money considering just how functional it is.
 

Deinos

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No problem and it looks like many are interested in this update. Being able to run desktop OneNote on a device like this would make an a fantastic tablet for students. Dell looks to have put a lot of effort into this thing and hopefully they appreciated that getting the pen to work reasonably well is major for this device.

I guess that's the thing that's always frustrated me about OEMs and their Windows tablets. They have to understand the major issues with the things before they ship but then ship them with those flaws anyway. Hopefully this was something Dell knew it could fix or at least mostly fix before they green lighted the device and decided to start shipping and come back with a fix later. Otherwise, it's an excellent tablet for the money considering just how functional it is.

Most OEMs are just interested in maximizing profit (they are a business after all). You know the deal. Projections tell them that they won't get enough return for the amount invested to fix... so, path of least resistance/cost :-/ Unfortunately, they can't see beyond that to how it will affect the brand down the road.
 

heatlesssun

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I hear you. But Dell did apparently design this thing with the pen being an important part to distinguish it from not only other Windows 8 mini-tablets but mobile OS minis as well. If they knew the pen was going to be problematic they might have been better off leaving it out altogether as it detracts from an otherwise great device. But hopefully it was something that they knew they could fix or improve on latter.
 

Deinos

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I hear you. But Dell did apparently design this thing with the pen being an important part to distinguish it from not only other Windows 8 mini-tablets but mobile OS minis as well. If they knew the pen was going to be problematic they might have been better off leaving it out altogether as it detracts from an otherwise great device. But hopefully it was something that they knew they could fix or improve on latter.

Keeping my fingers crossed. Too bad there isn't an "enterprise" line of this type of tablet similar to the jump in quality one gets by purchasing a Thinkpad, Elitebook, etc. :D
 

heatlesssun

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how's the battery life?

About 7.5 to 8 hours of continuous mixed used, desktop and modern apps, about 40% brightness which is plenty for most indoor situations. One guy got 5 hours 20 minutes doing a continuous loop 720P video playback test at 100% brightness.
 

Megalith

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HOLD UP. Dell is only charging $50 for going from the 32GB to 64GB version. Am I dreaming? There's a company that ISN'T butt-fucking the customer?
 

CEpeep

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HOLD UP. Dell is only charging $50 for going from the 32GB to 64GB version. Am I dreaming? There's a company that ISN'T butt-fucking the customer?

Good thing, considering the eMMC storage isn't any faster than a high-end microSD card, which still costs less per GB. No one would buy the 64GB version if it cost $100 more, since you can already get 64GB of equivalent-speed removable storage for less than half that.
 

heatlesssun

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My experience with usb 2.0 graphics cards was always pretty bad(and that tablet only has 2.0). I just don't see that working well for anything other than a demo.

It should be fast enough to handle things like 720P video play back and desktop software like office and such. Still not sure way Dell didn't put video out in this thing, all of the other Windows 8 mini-tablets have micro HDMI. So if a digital pen isn't your thing but video out is, there are other options for the class of device.
 

swatbat

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It should be fast enough to handle things like 720P video play back and desktop software like office and such. Still not sure way Dell didn't put video out in this thing, all of the other Windows 8 mini-tablets have micro HDMI. So if a digital pen isn't your thing but video out is, there are other options for the class of device.

I do agree the thing should have a video out. A real usb port would have been nice too(vs using an adapter). I'm saying usb 2.0 video isn't good and I don't see that thing doing well with 4 of them hooked to it. Hell I wouldn't want to run 4 monitors off the atom chip if it had a video card(s) in it that it could offload the stuff too let alone 5.

I still think the device looks good though. As I said before I'll probability get one next time I get a gift card via the DCN program.
 
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