Dell Venue 8 Pro 5855 Review: Not a Bad Windows 10 Tablet, But…

by Reads (36,658)
  • Editor's Rating

    Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

      • Software & Support
      • 9
      • Upgrade Capabilities
      • 9
      • Usability
      • 8
      • Design
      • 5
      • Performance
      • 5
      • Features
      • 6
      • Price/Value Rating
      • 6
      • Total Score:
      • 6.86
      • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10
  • Pros

    • Windows 10
    • Nice screen
    • Decent performance
    • USB Type-C
  • Cons

    • Barely adequate battery life

Quick Take

The Dell Venue 8 Pro 5855 is a Windows 10 tablet with a good screen and decent performance, but its price is just a bit high.

The original Dell Venue 8 Pro was one of the most popular Windows 8 tablets of 2014 thanks to a combination of good performance and low price. Dell introduced a new generation tablet designed for Windows 10. Will it prove just as popular? The recently-released Dell Venue 8 Pro 5855 is built around a 2.24GHz quad-core Intel Atom processor and sports an 8-inch, Full HD touchscreen display. It starts at $349 for a version with 32GB of storage and 2GB of RAM. The version we reviewed has 64GB of built-in storage, 4GB of RAM, and costs $449.

Dell Venue 8 Pro 5855

Dell Venue 8 Pro 5855

Build & Design

Dell didn’t break any molds when it was designing the latest Venue 8 Pro: the device has a very standard form factor, with an all-glass front, rounded corners, and an all-plastic back. The look is generally professional, especially as the product comes only in black. The display has a 16:10 aspect ratio, which leads to the overall design being noticeably wider than it is tall. Specifically, it’s 8.5 x 5.1 x 0.37 inches (216 x 130 x 9.5 mm). This makes the tablet more comfortable in landscape mode than portrait, and it also means it is easy to hold in one hand. To make it easier to hold onto, the back is covered in a pattern of microridges around a Dell logo.

It weighs around 0.83 pounds (377g), which is a touch high for an 8-inch tablet. Still, it’s a bit lighter than its predecessor.

Display

Dell’s newest 5000 Series tablet has an 8-inch display with a 1920 x 1200 resolution, giving it a pixel density of 283 ppi. This is a noticeable improvement over the 8-inch, 1280 x 800, 189 ppi screen in the first Venue 8 Pro, but it’s not as high a resolution as the 7.9-in., 2048 x 1536, 326 ppi display in the HP Pro Slate 8.

Overall, this screen looks great, and is right for a range of tasks, from email to social networking. That said, it’s not as well suited as larger displays for heavy word processing or watching video. In our tests, we found that the screen isn’t bright enough to cut through outdoor glare, but it offers wide viewing angles, making it easier for two people to look at the device at the same time.

Ports, Buttons, and Speakers

The newest Venue 8 Pro is among the first tablets with a USB Type-C port, which is better designed than the old micro-USB port. The jack is reversible, for one thing, and both power and data flow more quickly. The other end of the bundled USB-C cable is a standard USB Type-A jack, so it can be used with older laptops and PCs that don’t support USB-C. A microSD card slot is located on the right side of this computer, behind a protective door designed to keep the card from being accidentally ejected. According to Dell, it supports cards up to 128GB in size. We tested it with a 64GB card from Lexar without issue.

Dell Venue 8 Pro 5855 -- Right Side

Dell Venue 8 Pro 5855 — Right Side

Also on the right side is a volume up/down rocker and a Windows button — less necessary since Windows 10 brought back the on-screen icon. On the top edge of the Venue 8 Pro is the power button next to a standard headphone port. This model has a single speaker, located on the bottom edge. This puts out enough sound to make this tablet a respectable mobile TV.

Performance

All the versions in the Dell Venue 8 Pro 5855 run Windows 10 Pro on a 2.24GHz quad-core Intel Atom x5-Z8500 processor. This is a chip that’s intended for consumers or light business use, not heavy-duty computing. Dell offers a range of configurations. The base model has 2GB of RAM and 32GB of storage and costs $349. A 2GB/64GB version is $399 while a 4GB/64GB one is $449. It should be noted that the built-in storage is in the form of an eMMC — essentially a built-in SD card — not a faster Solid State Drive (SSD) such as would appear in a more expensive tablet. Up to 128GB of additional storage can be easily added via a microSD card. An adapter will be required to use USB flash drives with this computer.

Benchmarks

The Venue 8 Pro 5855 performance surpasses any of the Atom-powered Windows 8 and 8.1 tablets that launched in 2014 and early 2015. Comparing it against larger and more expensive business tablets and notebooks reveals its shortcomings. As with many devices, users have to triangulate needs based on performance, price, and mobility.

wPrime processor comparison results (listed in seconds – lower scores mean better performance):

Dell Venue 8 Pro wPrime Comparison

PCMark8 Home (Accelerated) measures overall system performance in Windows for general activities from web browsing and video streaming to typing documents and playing games (higher scores mean better performance):

Dell Venue 8 Pro PCMark8 Home Benchmark

PCMark8 Work (Accelerated) measures overall system performance in Windows for work-related productivity tasks (higher scores mean better performance):

Dell Venue 8 Pro PCMark8 Work Benchmark

3DMark 11 is a benchmark that measures overall graphics card performance for gaming (higher scores mean better performance):

Dell Venue 8 Pro 3DMark 11 Benchmark Comparison

Software

Windows 10 is well suited to running on a slate like this one, thanks to a new Tablet Mode. Those who would prefer the device to function more like a traditional PC can switch to Desktop Mode. As the Venue 8 Pro 5855 supports Miracast, it can be wirelessly-connected to an external monitor, keyboard, and mouse with accessories like the Actiontec ScreenBeam Mini2 Continuum Edition. This combination turns the tablet into a desktop. Alternatively, the V8P is the right size to work well with the Microsoft Universal Mobile Keyboard. Word Mobile, Excel Mobile, and PowerPoint Mobile are free to use, or the full versions of these applications are available with an Office 365 subscription. Microsoft also offers a range of free productivity apps, like OneNote and OneDrive.

Wireless

Dell Venue 8 Pro

Dell Venue 8 Pro

All versions of the new Venue 8 Pro have Wi-Fi 2×2 802.11 ac with Miracast support, as well as Bluetooth 4.0. Dell also offers a version of this device with 4GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, and built-in support sor AT&T’s 4G LTE cellular-wireless data service. This costs $579.

Cameras

The 5855 has a 5 megapixel rear camera, but this is an example of how the number of megapixels sometimes doesn’t tell the real story. Our testing showed that this is actually a fairly decent camera, taking usable images in both bright and dim lighting. It does have its limitations, of course: there’s no flash, and action shots in dim lighting are blurred. Also, the lens is located in the middle of the top edge, exactly where the user’s hand needs to go when taking a landscape picture. Windows 10 comes with a basic but useful collection of image-enhancement tools. The 2MP front camera is well suited for Skype calling.

Battery

Dell doesn’t make any promises about how long the new Venue 8 Pro will last on a single charge, other than saying it has “excellent battery life.” We ran this device through the Powermark benchmarking test and came up with 4 hours and 7 minutes.

Powermark battery life benchmark test results listed in minutes (higher scores indicate longer battery life):

Dell Venue 8 Pro Powermark Benchmark Comparison

This isn’t a great score. The original V8P was able to go over 6 hours on the same test. That said, PowerMark is a torture test, and therefore indicates the shortest battery life that can be expected. Even so, those who are going to need this tablet for a full work day should bring a charger with them.

Conclusion

The Venue 8 Pro 5855 isn’t a bad device, but it doesn’t really live up to its predecessor. The screen is quite attractive, and it’s nice that Dell included USB Type-C. But the performance is just adequate, and the battery life could definitely be better.

Value

When the first-generation Venue 8 Pro was released, it was somewhat amazing that a full Windows tablet was selling for only $300. A couple of years later, there are quite a few budget models running Microsoft’s operating system. This means that with a starting price of $349, the 5855 doesn’t really stand out from the pack.

Dell Venue 8 Pro 5855 -- Front and Back

Dell Venue 8 Pro 5855 — Front and Back

All in all, this device isn’t a bad deal, but it’s not a great one either.

Pros:

  • Windows 10
  • Nice screen
  • Decent performance
  • USB Type-C

Cons:

  • Barely adequate battery life

Bottom Line:

The Dell Venue 8 Pro 5855 is a Windows 10 tablet with a good screen and decent performance, but its price is just a bit high.



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4 Comments

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  1. ryan.lindsey

    I have the original version of this, and while I love the hardware, the software and size of the device kind of let this thing down.

    Portable device for browsing and firing off emails? My Android phone is much better at that, and pocketable. The arrow keys on the Windows keyboard are awesome, and so is copy and paste, but none of the Email programs are nearly as good as the mature Android ones.

    Hook up a keyboard and use this as a laptop/desktop? I’ve done it, and I even propped the thing on several textbooks so that it’d be high enough to not destroy my neck after a day of working.

    My laptop is better at that.

    So if you don’t have a phone or a laptop, this thing can pinch hit for either, but I never find myself using this thing on a daily basis, and that was also with it running Windows 10.

    Increased screen resolution? I never ran the original at 100% scaling, so I sure wasn’t trying to cram more on the screen. This tab doesn’t need more resolution.

    USB-C -> Awesome that is where things should go, and it’ll allow better hubs, faster charging, and lots of stuff. The USB port on the original was able to use a charging OTG hub, though, so I could hook up Keyboard/Mouse and charge it at the same time. Not a huge difference.

    The other huge drawback of these things is the free space. After all was said and done, I had about 5GB free, and it kept shrinking. I couldn’t install the copy of Office that they included with the device because there wasn’t enough space.

    I love the hardware, I really do. Great screen (The original one), nice touchscreen (even with the annoying software dead-zones around the border – Windows tells me I’m tapping, but nothing is happening), decent speed, and pretty good battery life, though it’s just not useful. I want to use it, but I’m not doing so.

  2. VinceCollier

    Does this support any kind of active stylus?

  3. HildyJ

    My original Venue 8 is getting old and the new Venue is on my list but I would be very interested to see a test and comparison with the HP Envy 8 Note (5002 or 5003).

  4. iamwarpath

    I agree with the negatives. I get about three hours of usage and the price was too high. Charging to 100% shouldn’t take as long as it does. The Start button placement is dumb. I wish the performances was better but you can’t expect the world from an Atom processor.