A Review of the Dell Venue 8 Pro Tablet

 

Image via Dell
Image via Dell

 

I’ve been impressed by the Dell Venue 8 Pro in my use of it these past few months. I recorded my initial impressions here.

This post completes my two-part review of the device by way of a three-question Q and A session. (Leading up to this review I’ve benefited from conversations with R. Mansfield, who knows the Dell Venue 8 Pro–hereafter, DV8P–well.)

 

How Does the Dell Venue 8 Pro Compare to an iPad?

 

See… I knew you were going to ask that question! Here are five points of comparison.

First, the iPad still does not allow the user to view and use more than one app on the screen at a time. Why this continues to be the case is unclear to me, but the DV8P lets you have two apps open at once. So you can read an article from your Facebook feed without leaving Facebook. Or you can go to a Web link that pops up in a Kindle book you’re reading, while not having to leave and then navigate back to the Kindle app. Advantage: DV8P.

Second, the DV8P is more compact than a full-sized iPad, but close in dimensions to the iPad Mini. The DV8P is longer and skinnier, by a little bit. Its 8-inch screen size (measured diagonally) just edges out the iPad Mini’s 7.9 inches. To hold it feels about the same as the iPad Mini, though. Advantage: Both.

Third, the Dell Venue Pro is both tablet and personal computer. You can use it as both. You can run full-on Windows programs from the Desktop side, which Apple’s iOS on iPad does not permit.

I love being able to access full-bodied programs on this little tablet. Much as I appreciate Accordance’s iOS mobile app, for example, being able to use the full desktop version–but not having to be at a desktop or laptop–is awesome. Advantage: DV8P.

Fourth, the gesture-based interface of the iPad gives the user more options. Or is more intuitive. Or something. I know “intuitive” is a fuzzy word in software and hardware reviews. Of course, I’m way more used to an iPad than the Dell Venue Pro, but the former is easier to just pick up and tap and swipe your way around. Advantage: iPad Mini.

Finally, battery life on the 8 Pro leaves something to be desired, especially in comparison with the iPad Mini. Battery life when the device is in use is fine, but it does not hold charge very well when it idles/sleeps. If I put the tablet to sleep with full battery life, don’t use it at all for a couple days, then come back to it, it’s completely out of charge. I’ve never had this issue with the iPad mini. (And I’m not the only DV8P user to notice this, either.) Advantage: iPad Mini.

 

Does it Replace a Computer?

 

Because you have the computing capabilities of a desktop computer in your hands, one could think about the Dell Venue 8 Pro as a possible replacement for a computer.

With the loaner review unit Dell sent me, they also included a stylus (with a responsive point) and a keyboard. Each of these are essential companions when using Windows and navigating full-bodied programs like Word or Accordance or whatever else. (Not the least reason for which is that the touch points on Windows apps are too small for even tiny fingers.)

 

Accordance
Accordance on the DV8P (click or open in new tab/window to enlarge)

 

Being able to use–on a portable tablet–programs/apps that you could until now have to get to a desktop or laptop to use… is really sweet. If you don’t want to be limited by Android’s environment or iOS apps, the tablet-as-computer could make sense.

However, a limitation is in the memory size. The Dell Venue 8 Pro comes in 32GB or 64GB models, but even the latter is too small to make this your one-and-only computer (think: lots of images and movies stored). The Dell Venue 11 Pro model, however, has a hard drive up to 256 GB, which is definitely workable for making the DVP your only computing device.

Speaking of, here are the specs of the machine (compared to the 11) from Dell:

 

Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 9.47.25 PM

 

Does Abram K-J of Words on the Word
Recommend this Device?

 

I would be too tied to the Apple app ecosystem to be able to move all my work over to the DV8Pro, much as I like the device. I’d have no way to run OmniFocus, for example. Or Nisus Writer Pro. I could easily still access Evernote, and other such apps.

But if you’re already rocking in the Windows free world, with no Mac or iOS-only apps to consider, this small but powerful device is worth looking into. (I can’t say from experience how it compares to the Microsoft Surface.) It’s reasonably priced, too. And while I experienced more learning curve with the Dell Venue 8 Pro than I did when I first picked up an iPad, after a while it becomes intuitive, and convenient to have more computing power than one would expect in a tablet.

 


 

Thanks to the fine folks at Dell for loaning me a Venue 8 Pro 5000 Series Tablet to test for the review. Check out the Dell tablet page here.

Dell Venue 8 Pro: Initial Impressions

Image via Dell
Image via Dell

 

Now that I can quickly remember which is the Windows button and which is the Power button, I’ve been having a lot of fun testing out a Dell Venue 8 Pro. I come to it from an iPad mini, which is comparable in size, so it’s taken some getting used to.

Here are four things I’ve been impressed by so far.

 

1. The weather app is awesome.

 

Yes, this is a small thing, but I’ve found the iOS weather apps (whether native or third-party) to be wanting. The pre-installed weather app in the Venue Pro, however, is really fun:

 

Hour-by-hour, how are my Chicago friends feeling? (COLD)
Hour-by-hour, how are my Chicago friends feeling? (COLD)

 

You can even CHECK THE RADAR. Whoa.

 

Including time-specific animation
Including time-specific animation

 

I don’t find myself needing to double-check weather.com. This app offers anything I’d want to know, including warnings and watches issued by the National Weather Service.

 

2. You can view two open apps at once, side-by-side.

 

I know, I know. That should be a given for a tablet in 2015. But it’s not available on iPads, so it’s been cool to be able to, say, scroll through a Facebook newsfeed while checking out links in a separate pane:

 

2 Screens 2

 

This is also useful if I want to read a book in Kindle and have a Web browser open. Yes, it’s the first time in many years that I’ve used Internet Explorer (!), but as browsers go, it works fine:

 

2 Screens 1

 

You can resize each of the two apps/panes so that the screen looks how you want it.

 

3. Speaking of Kindle, that app plays nicely with Windows.

 

This is a minor thing, too, but the Kindle iOS app does not allow you to purchase Kindle books from within the app. Here you can:

 

Kindle App

 

4. It’s a tablet. It’s a computer.

 

You get the convenience of an app-filled tablet, combined with the power of a full-on computer using Windows 8. Much as I like the iOS version of Accordance, you get to use its full desktop version here on the Venue 8:

 

Accordance

 

When you use the desktop side of the tablet, having a stylus to get at the smaller touch points on the screen is essential.

I’ll post more later. For now, while it hasn’t replaced my iPad mini for daily use, I’m really enjoying the Venue 8 Pro.

 


 

Thanks to the fine folks at Dell for loaning me a Venue 8 Pro 5000 Series Tablet to test for the review. Check out the Dell tablet page here.