11-30-2014 09:02 AM
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  1. mase123987's Avatar
    Packaging:
    Dell isn't going to win any rewards with the packaging. While it isn't unpleasant, nothing about the white slipcover screams interesting, exciting or note worthy. It blends into the sea of tablets and computers that have followed in Apple's shoes regarding the mostly white packaging. The front and back shows the tablet's appearance while listing some features and specs. Once you slide off the cover, you reveal a lightly-colored cardboard box with a very basic white tablet design and Dell logo. If the cover didn't exist, the packaging would be slightly more unique. Upon opening, the Venue 8 Pro is wrapped in typical plastic shielding that most tablets come in.

    packaging.jpg

    Included Accessories:
    3-foot USB cord and power adapter. Must I say much more?

    Optional Accessories:
    Dell offers a keyboard, case and active stylus on their website. I do not currently own any of them, though the stylus certainly is intriguing to me. If I buy any of them, I certainly will update this section.

    Design:
    While looking at the tablet, you feel...nothing. It is a rather plain black rectangle with rounded corners. The side bezels are about 1/3 as big as the top and bottom bezel. On the front upper right, you can see the front-facing camera and some type of notification light. I am not sure what exactly the light is for considering it doesn't light up when I get emails. It also doesn't operate like a typical HDD light on a desktop or an always lit up "On" light. It does light up when using the camera, but I can't fathom that being the only use. EDIT: The light lets you know when the FFC is on and it blinks when turning the device on and off.

    The back includes the 5mp camera in an ever-so-slight hump, silver plastic (I assume) Dell logo and a grey "intel inside" logo (thankfully it isn't a sticker). It is textured with with a circular ridge pattern that provides some needed grippage. No grippage isn't in the dictionary.

    packaging1.jpg

    The top edge contains the "Start" button and the headphone jack. I quickly discovered that the "Start" button is next to useless. In portrait mode, I find moving my hand to the top to be more motion than a basic operation should require. In landscape, I had to bend my index finger more than I wanted on a repeated basis. Swiping from the right and tapping "start" is more comfortable and quicker. The left edge is blank. The bottom edge contains a service number sticker and a speaker grill. The right edge has the micro USB charging port, charging indicator LED, power button, volume rocker and micro SDcard slot. The USB port is in an awkward location right next to the power and volume rocker. When charging and using the tablet, it blocks the natural motion of your finger to those buttons. Also, the cover on the card slot is harder to remove with your hands then it should be, though it won't be something your messing with too often.

    Screen:
    Venue 8 Pro's screen does a fantastic job, even if the 1280 by 800 resolution doesn't exactly sound amazing. Everything appears to be crisp, even text in desktop mode. Images and videos are displayed wonderfully. Is it quite as crisp as the newest Nexus 7? No, but you will not begin to notice the difference unless you are using both at the same time. Viewing angles are up to par with any tablet I have owned, not losing much color or brightness even at the highest angle. Contrast is very solid, though I wouldn't mind the blacks to be darker. Brightness is plenty once you turn off "Adaptive brightness." Responsiveness and accuracy provides a great user experience. In desktop mode, hitting small objects with my finger was fairly easy, just as good or better than tablets like the Nexus 7 2013, Nexus 7 2012 and Fire HD. I also never felt like I was waiting for objects to move when dragging my finger.

    Sound:
    Initially I noticed the single speaker grill, and I had flashbacks of tablets of days past in which volume sound and quality was mocked even by smartphones from a few years ago. I then turned on a few Youtube videos to find the sound volume and clarity to be quite acceptable. It doesn't have much bass, but does any tablet? There also isn't going to be any illusion of stereo/surround sound. If you want this, grab your headphones.

    Cameras:
    I'm not a camera snob, but, well...they are pretty bad. I have yet to use a tablet that took pictures worthy of even Facebook. All I will say is use your phone, considering most newer smartphones have pretty good cameras.

    Performance/Heat/Battery:
    This isn't the netbook Atom processor from 2007. It also isn't the sluggish Tegra 3 processor that haunted the Surface RT. This is a quad-core Atom looking to improve it's reputation. The Dell Venue 8 Pro is able to easily handle any metro app I have used up to this point. I can switch between browser tabs with ease, both desktop and metro versions. Controlling snap view doesn't slow down performance either.

    I just opened and switched between Youtube playing a video, The Verge website, WPCentral website, MS Word, the Store installing Halo, Skype and desktop version of Chrome without any slowdown or loading delays. Color me impressed. It also hasn't felt like the 2gb of RAM is holding it back. I wanted to test play Halo: Spartan Assault but something with the game didn't agree with the resolution. It looked and acted like a jumbled mess.

    The device had some warmth to it when doing some more processor and SSD hungry things, but never got hot. At no point did I think I would need to put it down do to the device being uncomfortable. With this my first fanless, intel-based device, I was glad this never became an issue.

    I have never been able to tell battery life on devices well considering my consumption habits change all the time. I will say this though: it feels like I am getting just as good or better life than other tablets of similar size. Dell states 8 to 10 hours, though I am sure I keep my screen brighter than when they tested this. No matter what the actual number is, it is long enough to compete with the less functional ARM based OSes.

    Windows 8.1:
    I could write an entire review on the OS itself, but you can already find a million of those across the internet. I will cover some quick points though. It is easily navigated in an all touch environment like the Venue 8 Pro. 95% of things the average consumer does with a tablet can be done extremely easily in Metro view. This being the case, I still am very glad to have a desktop and FULL Windows. The ability to install other browsers is a big enough reason to go Windows 8 vs RT. This should also allow companies to adopt devices like the Venue 8 Pro considering they can use old software until more touch friendly versions are created.

    Snap view on devices less than 1080p can only have 2 apps open at once. This doesn't bother me considering any more would make the screen way too busy. Microsoft added a new feature when opening a new app while already having two apps open in snap view. The new app's logo appears in the center of the screen and waits for you to touch which app you want to replace. Not automatically replacing an app is one of those small design changes that makes me love 8.1 every time I use it.

    Venue 8 Pro also comes with the Home & Student version of Office. Microsoft is currently working on a more touch friendly version which will be very welcomed. That said, I hope that it is just a optional view and not a replacement. To start using it, you do have to activate the software by entering the product key. I wish this was done automatically, though far from a deal breaker.

    When upgrading my desktop to Windows 8.1 to 8, I was presented with a few tips on how to use the OS. When first starting with this Dell, I didn't get those same helps. I'm not sure why, but these need to be there to help your average consumer.

    My single biggest complaint revolves around settings. While many of the basic settings can be altered using PC Settings, too often I find myself going into the old-school Control Panel to get the heavy lifting down. All settings should be available in both touch and click environments, with the typical control panel being hidden on devices like this.

    One issue I had out of the gate was a watermark appearing on my desktop that said "SecureBoot isn't configured correctly". These are one of those things that shouldn't happen on a brand new device. I am not sure if it is a wide spread problem, but I'll bet I'm not alone. After about an hour of frustration, I was able to find a solution. I created a thread this thread to help others: http://forums.windowscentral.com/del...ark-issue.html

    Should you buy?
    To me, the only advantage iPads and Android tablets have compared to Windows 8 tablets is touch-based apps, which mostly center around consumption activities. The Dell Venue 8 Pro can stand on its own just fine in every category besides touch based games. Are you most interested in playing the latest fad game? Get an iPad or Android tablet. Want a tablet to do anything else? Jump on the Venue 8 Pro when you can, esp. with the $299 price tag. It won't blow you away with sexy good looks, but it will allow you to do what you want quickly, easily and enjoyably.

    Specs:
    Processor: Intel Atom™ processor Z3740D with 32GB storage (2MB Cache, up to 1.8GHz Quad-Core)
    Operating System: Windows 8.1 (32Bit) English
    Productivity Software: Office Home and Student 2013 Tablet
    Memory: 2GB Single Channel DDR3L-RS 1600MHz
    Video: Intel HD Graphics
    Display: 8.0 inch IPS Display with HD (WXGA 1280 x 800) resolution with 10-pt capacitive touch
    Wireless: Dell Wireless 1538 Dual-Band 2x2 802.11n WiFi + Bluetooth 4.0
    Case Color: Black
    Webcam: Integrated 1.2MP HD Webcam (front) / 5MP (back)
    Power Supply: 10 Watt AC Adapter
    Support: 1 Yr Rapid Return for Repair after Remote Diagnosis - Americas Best Support
    Phone Support: 90 Days Premium Phone Support
    Ports & Connectors: 1 x Micro-AB USB2.0 (for trickle charging and data transfer), 1 x Headphone and microphone combojack, 1 x 3FF micro-SIM slot (optional)

    Dimensions:
    Thickness: 0.35” (9mm)
    Width: 5.12” (130mm)
    Length: 8.50” (216mm)

    Weight:
    Starting at 395g / 0.87lb

    Official User Manual: ftp://ftp.dell.com/Manuals/all-produ...uide_en-us.pdf
    Last edited by mase123987; 10-28-2013 at 02:12 PM. Reason: Correct information
    10-27-2013 11:38 PM
  2. midnitefox's Avatar
    I ordered mine thinking it was the RT version of Windows. Had no idea it was full Windows 8.1! Now I'm 1000x more excited!
    axllebeer likes this.
    10-28-2013 12:09 AM
  3. mase123987's Avatar
    I ordered mine thinking it was the RT version of Windows. Had no idea it was full Windows 8.1! Now I'm 1000x more excited!
    This is part of the first set of 8in tablets that do 8.1 justice!
    egoz07 likes this.
    10-28-2013 12:14 AM
  4. savingpvtbryan's Avatar
    You can read more impressions by going to Venue 8 Pro Owner's Lounge
    10-28-2013 12:28 AM
  5. g808's Avatar
    Thanks for the review! I'm really excited for these Atom tablets with full Windows 8.1. It seems to fit the sweet spot of balance between performance, flexibility and battery life. Really liking the Surface 2, but wish I could install a few apps that don't support the RT OS yet.
    10-28-2013 01:00 AM
  6. Adam Bow's Avatar
    Great review, thanks for the time taken. One question about ssd hd space with a 32gb drive?

    With the sd card expansion, I figured 64GB is not needed. Get the 2 year warranty instead :-) or stylus
    10-28-2013 07:06 AM
  7. mase123987's Avatar
    Great review, thanks for the time taken. One question about ssd hd space with a 32gb drive?

    With the sd card expansion, I figured 64GB is not needed. Get the 2 year warranty instead :-) or stylus
    Right now it says I have 7.85 gb free out of 23.3. I have installed Halo: Spartan Assault, Minecraft and Chrome. I assume this means there is about 7 gb worth of backup files. I am going to see if I can't off load those files to an micro sdcard or flash drive.
    MicroByte and TechFreak1 like this.
    10-28-2013 08:28 AM
  8. MicroByte's Avatar
    So jealous!

    How does Halo and Minecraft run for you? I've seen Asus T100 footage of these games and since the processor is nearly identical, I'd assume they run decent on the Venue as well.

    Thanks for the great impressions, hope to hear more!
    10-28-2013 09:06 AM
  9. mase123987's Avatar
    So jealous!

    How does Halo and Minecraft run for you? I've seen Asus T100 footage of these games and since the processor is nearly identical, I'd assume they run decent on the Venue as well.

    Thanks for the great impressions, hope to hear more!
    Halo is not recognizing my resolution for some reason so I can't play it. Minecraft doesn't seem to have touch only controls so I can't play that either.
    10-28-2013 09:10 AM
  10. mase123987's Avatar
    I just downloaded Steam and installed Myst. It worked great with all touch controls
    10-28-2013 10:45 AM
  11. egoz07's Avatar
    Excellent, level-headed review; Thank you for the work.
    Guytronic likes this.
    10-28-2013 10:51 AM
  12. fc000's Avatar
    Great review, ended up ordering one of these online, should arrive by Thursday (Dell Canada).

    I'm a bit disappointed in the complete lack of reviews from any of the tech blogs, it's great to see people in the community fill this need.
    mase123987 likes this.
    10-28-2013 11:27 AM
  13. mase123987's Avatar
    Thank you for the kind words! Let me know if you have any specific questions.
    10-28-2013 11:34 AM
  14. AgentDelta's Avatar
    Thanks for the review! Any plans to get the stylus in the near future? That's the thing I find most intriguing about the DV8P.
    10-28-2013 12:36 PM
  15. mase123987's Avatar
    Thanks for the review! Any plans to get the stylus in the near future? That's the thing I find most intriguing about the DV8P.
    I am supposed to get a $15 coupon for Dell's site in my email soon. I will probably buy it then.
    AgentDelta likes this.
    10-28-2013 12:52 PM
  16. MoggSquad's Avatar
    That light may be an indicator for when your webcam is on.
    10-28-2013 01:30 PM
  17. MoggSquad's Avatar
    Office isn't activated? Do you think you can use this key to activate Office on a Surface Pro instead? That would be awesome.

    "Venue 8 Pro also comes with the Home & Student version of Office. Microsoft is currently working on a more touch friendly version which will be very welcomed. That said, I hope that it is just a optional view and not a replacement. To start using it, you do have to activate the software by entering the product key. I wish this was done automatically, though far from a deal breaker."
    10-28-2013 01:35 PM
  18. mase123987's Avatar
    Office isn't activated? Do you think you can use this key to activate Office on a Surface Pro instead? That would be awesome.

    "Venue 8 Pro also comes with the Home & Student version of Office. Microsoft is currently working on a more touch friendly version which will be very welcomed. That said, I hope that it is just a optional view and not a replacement. To start using it, you do have to activate the software by entering the product key. I wish this was done automatically, though far from a deal breaker."
    It is already on the Dell Venue 8 Pro. Inside the packaging is a 25 digit key that you have to enter before you can use it.
    10-28-2013 01:41 PM
  19. AgentDelta's Avatar
    I am supposed to get a $15 coupon for Dell's site in my email soon. I will probably buy it then.
    Gotcha; thanks! Looking forward to your impressions of it.
    mase123987 likes this.
    10-28-2013 01:45 PM
  20. MoggSquad's Avatar
    I understand it's installed, but since it's not activated I'm thinking you can use that activation key on another device and remove it from the Venue 8.

    Just saying if I have both a Surface Pro 2 and Venue 8, I'd rather use Office on the Surface.

    It is already on the Dell Venue 8 Pro. Inside the packaging is a 25 digit key that you have to enter before you can use it.
    10-28-2013 01:47 PM
  21. mase123987's Avatar
    I understand it's installed, but since it's not activated I'm thinking you can use that activation key on another device and remove it from the Venue 8.

    Just saying if I have both a Surface Pro 2 and Venue 8, I'd rather use Office on the Surface.
    Oh okay. I got you. Well I just looked at the card that contained the code, and my guess is no. It is labeled as this "Windows 8 SmScrn Touch w/H&S 2013." It looks like the code could be for the OS and Office together.
    10-28-2013 01:51 PM
  22. ovrkast's Avatar
    Thank you for the awesome review!!!

    Do you have a microUSB to USB adapter that you can verify if the Dell Venue will act as a host and recognize flash drives and portable USB drives? I was curiously if it had enough power to utilize those devices. Also, I cannot find anywhere on the web if the Dell uses Gorilla Glass or just hardened glass. If it is hardened glass...do you think it would incur scratches easily by throwing it in and out of a backpack regularly?
    10-28-2013 01:55 PM
  23. mase123987's Avatar
    Thank you for the awesome review!!!

    Do you have a microUSB to USB adapter that you can verify if the Dell Venue will act as a host and recognize flash drives and portable USB drives? I was curiously if it had enough power to utilize those devices. Also, I cannot find anywhere on the web if the Dell uses Gorilla Glass or just hardened glass. If it is hardened glass...do you think it would incur scratches easily by throwing it in and out of a backpack regularly?
    I do not though I plan on getting one. It would seem odd if it can't handle things like a flash drive. Don't expect it to be able to handle portable blu-ray drives or anything like that.

    I don't have a clue on the glass though I will look around for an answer.
    10-28-2013 01:58 PM
  24. mase123987's Avatar
    I do not though I plan on getting one. It would seem odd if it can't handle things like a flash drive. Don't expect it to be able to handle portable blu-ray drives or anything like that.

    I don't have a clue on the glass though I will look around for an answer.
    The online manual says the micro usb port can be used for things like file transfer with a otg adapter.
    10-28-2013 02:03 PM
  25. TrackSmart's Avatar
    Thanks for the first impressions! If you have a moment, I'm really curious to ask a few questions:
    - How usable are MS Word and Excel without a keyboard, mouse, or stylus? I figured that a stylus would be a necessity for being productive on an 8" device while on-the-go.
    - What happens to desktop applications (non-Metro) when you rotate the tablet? Do the windows automatically "maximize" at the new, rotated resolution and zoom level? What about full-screen apps (e.g. games and movies). I can't imagine how old versions of Windows would have behaved if you suddenly changed the resolution mid-game...

    It is great to hear about your real, hands-on experiences. I've been pretty excited about these new 8" Bay Trail devices.
    Last edited by TrackSmart; 10-28-2013 at 03:59 PM. Reason: My middle question appears to be answered elsewhere. No stylus at Walmart. Only 32GB model at Walmart.
    10-28-2013 03:29 PM
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