I would have never guessed that my review would start with a trip to Wal-Mart. Yes, Dell supplied Wal-Mart before shipping the Venue 8 Pro to it's loyal website buyers. If not for us spreading the word that the store had them I doubt they would have ever left the store. My local store had 3 of them locked in a cabinet. This is just a small bump to an otherwise nice Windows 8.1 Atom processor tablet.
We have covered this tablet a lot here at Surface Geeks. Why is that? Well, the Acer W3 was a bust, even though I recommended it at a far reduced price. (I need to update that post) This is the first real 8" Windows 8 tablet. Meaning, non ARM based. I'm not going to count the W3!
Yes, you can install Photoshop on it. Yes, you can install your favorite off the shelf software on it. You can, but you probably shouldn't.
Let's get it out of the box first. I have two of these tablets. One from WalMart and one from Dell. So naturally, I unboxed both of them.
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This photo gallery should cover all the ports and details of the tablet. Here is the link to Dell if you want to dig in more or buy one. Quickly though, what sets it apart from the W3 and anything else before it is it's Baytrail processor and the 8.0 inch IPS Display which is WXGA 1280 x 800 resolution with 10-pt capacitive touch. That alone blows away the Acer W3. It's a VERY NICE screen. Viewing angle is awesome and it's crisp, clear, and bright.
I mentioned that you can install PhotoShop on it because it has the Intel Atom processor Z3740D. Mine came with 32GB of storage and you can get it with 64GB. The processor clocks in at 1.8Ghz (up to) and it's a quad core. I did some rudeamentary speed tests on the tablet and installed a game to demonstrate this here.
The original Halo on 8" screen. Worked well but mouse and keyboard can be cumbersome if not all bluetooth.
Quick and Dirty Review
It's small! Honestly, desktop on this thing is almost unusable it's so small. It comes with Office but do yourself a favor and don't count on creating a big project on it. Read, make a small change here and there and move on. Yet, thankful it does come with office for that reason. If your app of choice is not touch enabled forget about it. You will be frustrated.
Here it is against the Yoga 13" Ultrabook. I left the USB adapter on so you could see how pretty it looks.
Screen - gorgeous.
Cameras - mediocre. You have heard this before. Great for Skype. Good lighting and you can capture a photo but use your phone instead.
Stylus - By all reports(i have not used it) garbage, but did you expect to do fine art on this thing? No, don't buy.
No video out - an arguable point for an 8" device but I will not subtract points because it doesn't have it.
Micro SD card slot is a plus for storing extra media for road trips. Plus, a SIM slot should come to this device for those that wait for 2014.
Windows button - It's on the side and sometimes cumbersome to find. Take that vs. a windows button on the bezel that you accidentally tap.
Storage - I have 12.3 Gb free after removing the recovery partition. Not bad but I have not installed a lot of stuff. Don't be shocked that your 32Gb device has only 12Gb free after you do updates.
Form Factor - 8" feels great to hold in either landscape or portrait orientation. Not that heavy that you tire holding it.
Dell Cruft? - Not really. There is not a lot of bloatware on it. Dell did put on their registration app, the "My Dell" app, but that's to be understood. PocketCloud and the Kindle App were also installed. Not something to moan about.
Faster than my Surface RT. Probably not a fair comparison.
You would not believe the amount of requests I've seen asking me to test a piece of software on it. A game, etc. It's a netbook guys. Yes it will probably run what your interested in and I hate to tell you that it will probably be slow. Do you seriously want to run PhotoShop on a tiny desktop? Overwhelmingly, I think the answer is yes. Yes you do. Maybe not PhotoShop but a .EXE program of some sort. This is the tablet that you can throw around yet run that one program that only you want to run. We all have the ONE program right?
Why do I think this? Feedback, hits, views. I've had more feedback over this one device than I've had for the entire year of 2013. Granted, this is a niche community but people are viewing, reading, and interested in this device. It drives home what I have felt for some time. The 8" form factor is what people want.
The big question in my mind is will you be using it a year down the road? Two years? My guess is No. Just like the netbook craze, you will be back to a laptop or full size tablet with keyboard in order to get back to work. The one thing that can keep the momentum rolling for this size tablet is the marketplace. Yes, you are tired of hearing about apps but it's true. Apps will drive this size tablet to success or failure. It's small! Do small things with it. Photoshop on the desktop, no. Photo manipulation in a modern UI screen, YES! Interact with my home media, YES! Interact with the living room experience, YES! Keep those apps coming developers.
If you want to install anything on this it better be in the marketplace or downloadable. Otherwise, you will need a micro USB to full size USB converter. Joe Public is not going to go through this hassle in order to get a CD-ROM program onto this tablet. Marketplace matters, even on a full blown Windows device.
My last dig on the marketplace I promise. I think it's off to a good start but it really needs to take some lessons from Apple and Google on layout and presentation. I still find it a little underwhelming. Kind of bland.
My last thought goes back to ARM and the Surface. I'm interested to see an 8" Surface and how people will react to it. I think it will be gorgeous but I get the feeling that you have already made your minds up.
It's priced right. $299.99 Pay Uncle Sam and you have a nice companion device. Recommended? Yes, but don't think that your going to organize your Lightroom database or play a high end game on a 27" monitor off of this thing. Companion. That's the key word here.
It's a couch tablet. A nice one at that.
Dell Venue 8 Pro vs. Lenovo Miix 2 8 on Surface Geeks 45 - The Podcast Review
Lenovo Miix 2 8 – A Windows 8.1 8-inch Tablet Review - for comparison
Probably the best Venue 8 review i've read so far and it's right here in the Surface Geeks forum