The tablet market has seen a proliferation of different form factors in recent times, from the ultra-portable to the downright unwieldy, and Dell seems to be doing its best to try them all.
The Venue brand originated with a failed smartphone project, but Dell has reinvented it in the form of a tablet line. The eight-inch Venue 8 Pro is just one of four Dell tablets to receive the name, along with the Venue 7, Venue 8 and Venue 11 Pro.
Whereas portability is something of a bonus for larger form factors, it ought to be an implicit assumption for an eight-inch tablet. Fortunately, the 8.50-by-5.12-by-0.35 inch Dell Venue 8 Pro proves that assumption correct.
It’s comfortable to hold in one hand, and the build quality is as good as you’d expect from Dell. The Venue eschews the cheap plastic backing found on many budget tablets in favor of a pleasant soft-touch cover. Its 0.87-pound body is marginally lighter compared to tablets like the Acer Iconia W4 and Toshiba Encore.
On first blush, there’s one thing that immediately sticks out about the Venue 8 Pro in a tablet comparison. Rather than the standard capacitive Windows button recessed into the front bezel, the Venue’s Windows button has migrated to the top right edge.
It’s not a bad location, but it does take some getting used to. The Windows button is joined by a 3.5-millimeter headphone jack. The right edge sports the standard fare, including a power button, volume rocker, microSD card slot and micro-USB charging socket. The bottom holds a single speaker grille, while the left edge is blank.
Resolving the Details
Like its Venue 7 and Venue 8 brethren, the Dell Venue 8 Pro features a 1,280-by-800 pixel IPS display. The resolution may not sound particularly impressive, but don’t let that fool you.
The Venue’s panel is high-quality, producing sharp, vibrant colors and satisfying contrast from a wide range of angles. The inclusion of an active digitizer is an added bonus, though it isn’t always a smooth experience compared to tablets such as the Samsung Galaxy Note line.
Under the Hood
The Venue 8 Pro is powered by a quad-core 1.83-gigahertz Intel Atom Z3740D chip and two gigabytes of RAM. It’s a slight step down from the 1.86-gigahertz Atom Z3740, which is occasionally paired with four gigabytes of RAM.
However, a tablet comparison with the Toshiba Encore, which features the Atom Z3740, reveals little real-world difference. The Bay Trail processor is fully capable of handling basic Windows applications, though it struggles with some of the more demanding apps and games.
Battery life is close to average for eight-inch Bay Trail tablets.
The Venue 8 Pro benefits from the inclusion of an active digitizer, which ought to be appealing to productivity-minded consumers. The display is comparable to the excellent Lenovo Miix 2, and it doesn’t suffer from the lack of brightness and poor viewing angles that plague the otherwise solid Toshiba Encore.
The Acer Iconia W4 also offers a solid display, though its construction quality lacks the durable, high-quality feel boasted by Dell’s Venue 8 Pro.
Thanks to nearly identical specs, hands-on performance is almost indistinguishable between tablets.