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Dell Venue 8 Pro review

Can 8-inch tablets bring more consumers to the Windows 8 fold?

The Venue 8 Pro is a solid small tablet: it's got a bright, accurate screen, decent battery life, superb build quality and the latest technology inside. It's also better than its closest rival, the Acer Iconia W4, when business use is concerned: certain Dell models are more expensive, sure, but they have more storage and mobile broadband, and there are more extensive accessories and service options.

Stylus

The Dell, though, also suffers in the same areas as the Iconia. Bay Trail might be the latest hardware from Intel's foundries, but it doesn't have the power to run high-end work software – and, in our tests, it sometimes struggled to handle more basic tasks too. Tablets that run Android and iOS are much smoother.

There's also the question of future-proofing, as more impressive hardware will soon arrive: Lenovo's ThinkPad 8 will have a Full HD screen, a faster processor, and up to twice the storage space. That's not to mention other small tablets that will arrive with 64-bit processors and more RAM.

We liked

The Dell's screen is one of the brightest we've seen on any tablet, and it works well as a touchscreen. Connectivity options are broad, including mobile broadband on more expensive models, and the Venue 8 Pro's exterior is consistently impressive: it looks good and feels strong.

Windows 8 doesn't have the app selection of Android or iOS, but the desktop mode included in this OS means that the Dell can run legacy applications – a potential boon for business. And, with the cheapest Venue 8 Pro available for £239, it's a little cheaper than the Iconie.

We disliked

Performance isn't exactly the Dell's strong point. Its benchmark results lag behind larger Windows-based machines, and real-world tests illustrate mixed speed: basic software and Start screen apps run smoothly, but the OS occasionally struggled, and intensive work applications are beyond the Dell's abilities.

The 32GB of storage in our sample is tight, too, and you'll have to pay at least £329 to double the amount of memory.

The speakers are poor, the screen's resolution isn't as high as many other machines – including the forthcoming Lenovo – and the mobile broadband is locked to one network.

Verdict

The Venue 8 Pro is one of the best small Windows 8 tablets on the market, and it's got the power to run basic desktop software, older applications and Start screen apps, but tablets like the iPad mini and Nexus 7 have better screens, smoother operating systems, superior longevity and a much broader selection of native apps – and, in the Nexus 7's case, it's cheaper too.

Press shot

If you need a Windows machine for working, this is a better bet than the Acer – but we'd consider whether we needed Windows at all before dropping cash on the Venue 8 Pro.

Tech Specs

Product TypeNet-tablet PC
Flash Memory Capacity32 GB
Processor ManufacturerIntel
Graphics Controller ManufacturerIntel
Graphics Controller ModelHD Graphics
BluetoothYes
Wireless LANYes
Optical Drive TypeNo
Graphics Memory AccessibilityShared
Product FamilyVenue 8 Pro
Operating System Architecture32-bit
Front Camera/WebcamYes
Operating System PlatformWindows
Operating System LanguageEnglish
Processor ModelZ3740D
ColourBlack
Operating SystemWindows 8.1, Windows 8.1 (English)
Brand NameDell
Form FactorSlate
Processor Speed1.33 GHz
Processor TypeAtom
Screen Size20.3 cm (8")
Number of Cells2-cell
Screen Resolution1280 x 800
Standard Memory2 GB
Weight (Approximate)394.6 g
Cache2 MB
Processor CoreQuad-core (4 Core)
Memory Card ReaderYes
TouchscreenYes
Display Screen TypeActive Matrix TFT Colour LCD
Display Screen TechnologyIn-plane Switching (IPS) Technology
Wireless LAN StandardIEEE 802.11n
Bluetooth StandardBluetooth 4.0
Multi-touch ScreenYes
Rear Camera Resolution5 Megapixel
Height8.9 mm
Width215.9 mm
Depth130 mm
Screen ModeWXGA
Memory TechnologyDDR3L SDRAM
ManufacturerDell, Inc
Product NameVenue 8 Pro Net-tablet PC
Product LineVenue 8 Pro
Aspect Ratio16:10
Manufacturer Part Number665998662
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.dell.co.uk
Marketing InformationBig-picture productivity in a compact tablet.

Crystal-clear touch screen: Witness impeccable detail on the 8" HD 800p display and navigate with a tap, slide, swipe or pinch on the multi-touch screen. Share HD thrills with wide viewing angles that allow multiple viewers to see HD content in stunning detail, simultaneously.

Front and rear cameras: Take great photos and shoot video with the 1.2 MP front-facing lens or video chat with the 5 MP rear-facing camera.
Package Contents
  • Venue 8 Pro Net-tablet PC
  • Standard Battery
  • AC Adapter