Dell has taken the Venue name out of the deep freeze. With the help of Bay Trail and Windows 8.1, its entering the world small, long lasting tablets running Microsoft's hybrid OS.
Shoved into the spotlight at IDF 2013, the Dell Venue 8 Pro is an 8-inch tablet sporting 1080p resolution, a sub $300 price tag and with Intel's new Atom chip inside, there's hope of great battery life.
Dell is still being shy about the tablet's internal specifics and performance in anticipation of an official launch event in early October, but we were able to take the tablet for a little test drive behind closed doors.
Performance-wise, the Venue 8 Pro was snappy enough. We flicked through apps with nary a stutter, and web pages loaded with ease.
While we've no desire to poke about the desktop with a finger, it's very easy to swipe and select Live Tiles with your thumbs. It's unclear what accessories Dell might sell or bundle with this new Venue to assist with the desktop; this is full Windows 8.1 we're talking about here.
Dell has opted for a Windows key on the side rather than the face of the tablet. Asus did the same thing with the T100 Transformer Book and it's a sensible choice. The frequently used key is now right where your fingers are resting, rather than forcing you to change your grip.
The rear of the tablet is plastic, with spiraled texture pattern that adds some grip and a unique feel. We weren't in love with the way it felt; it may prove divisive, like the backing on the original Nexus 7.
During our demo, the glass face and the plastic backing felt more like tow separate pieces than most tablets we've held. It felt as though we could pull the too apart – even though this is sealed device without removable battery.
Hopefully that's just an issue with pre-production modeled we sampled. This Windows 8.1 tablet will have microSD support though, so you'll have plenty of space to tuck away music and movies. There's no LTE or cellular service option though, which is a pity.
Finally, Dell plans to sell the Venue 8 Pro in two colors: black and a ruby red.
Whenever it launches, Dell's Venue 8 Pro is going to part of a glut of small, affordable Windows 8 tablets hitting the market. The Asus T100 and the Acer Iconia W3 are on their way, and more will surely emerge.
The Venue 8 Pro will need to find a way to distinguish itself to succeed, and Windows 8 will need to keep growing its app support. Then we'll see what the Start Screen and those Live Tiles can truly do.