At the heart of the Dell Venue 8 Pro is a 1.8GHz quad-core Intel Atom Z3740 processor. This is one of the new “Bay Trail” chips that Intel promises have twice the performance of the old “Cloverfield” chips, while nevertheless drawing less power.
That said, this isn’t a high-end gaming device. It’s been designed (and priced) for those looking for a light-duty, easily-portable computer. It’s a good alternative for web, email, and casual gaming, with Office access thrown in for good measure.
wPrime processor comparisons (lower scores means better performance):
PCMark 7 measures overall systems performance (higher scores mean better performance):
3DMark 11 is a benchmark that measures overall graphic card performance for gaming (higher scores mean better performance):
Windows 8.1 has proved to be controversial, but much of the complaints are coming from people who are running it on traditional desktop computers and laptops without touchscreens. But that’s not the case here: this operating system was developed to run on tablets like this one. The new tiles-based Modern interface (typically referred to by its code-name “Metro”) is easy to use, once one gets over the learning curve.
But there is a caveat. Microsoft clearly intended this operating system and its bundled apps for slightly larger screens. On the 8-inch in this Dell, text is often quite small. This can be adjusted in the Desktop mode, but there’s frequently no way to increase the font size in Metro mode. This shouldn’t be a significant issue for those with good vision, but others might find themselves regularly putting on reading glasses to use this device.
One of the best parts of the Venue 8 Pro is that it runs the full version of Windows 8.1, not Windows RT, so users can open up the classic Windows Desktop and run legacy Windows third-party software. It’s even bundled with Microsoft Office 2013.
That said, Desktop mode wasn’t designed to be used on a tablet, and screen elements can be small enough that tapping on them with a fingertip can be somewhat challenging. A stylus is a better option for many legacy applications, or users can connect to a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard and have a miniature desktop computer.
Even so, the development of Metro versions of popular apps is important to the success of the Venue 8 Pro. Fortunately, the number of these has increased substantially over the last year to the point where users should be able to find a Metro version of most casual apps they are looking for, like Facebook, Twitter, and Kindle. Just about all professional software still requires the Windows Desktop, however.
To test battery life, we used PowerMark benchmark in balanced mode. The test consists of a combination of automated web browsing, word processing, gaming, and video playback workloads.
With a result of 6 hours 7 minutes, the Dell Venue 8 Pro has a decent but not outstanding battery life. It is capable of lasting through most days, but there will be occasional times when it will need to be recharged mid-day. This is typical of a mid-size Windows tablet, but is much shorter than the battery lives of the Apple iPad Air or most Android tablets.
Hold on — Part 3 has our conclusions on the Dell Venue 8 Pro.