Dell's Venue 8 Pro is one of a growing number of Atom-based 8in tablets running Windows 8 or 8.1 that all seem to be targeting the same market segment as many low-cost Android devices and Apple's iPad Mini, and thus carry a competitive price tag themselves.
Announced last October and available since the end of 2013, the Venue 8 Pro is a sleek looking mini tablet that matches the styling of Dell's other devices such as the Latitude 10 tablet V3 reviewed last year.
However, as was the way with last year's crop of Windows 8 tablets, the Venue 8 Pro features nearly identical specifications to every other 8in Windows tablet on the market, leaving device makers to try to differentiate their products on things like design and build quality instead.
Along with other 8in tablets, the Venue 8 Pro is effectively a netbook replacement, offering relatively low performance for users seeking a low-cost lightweight device for watching movies, browsing the web or reading emails.
With this in mind, Dell seems to be targeting the Venue 8 Pro at students, especially with the inclusion of Microsoft Office Home & Student 2013. However, this is also in line with most of the other 8in Windows tablets.
Design and build
The Venue 8 Pro adopts Dell's familiar austere colour scheme of charcoal grey casing, with a screen that almost fills the front of the device.
At 395g in weight, Dell's device is in line with other 8in Windows tablets, including the Toshiba Encore which comes in at 445g and the Asus Vivo Tab Note 8 at 380g. For comparison, Apple's iPad Mini 2 weighs in at a lighter 331g, although it should be noted that the Venue 8 Pro is effectively a full-blown PC capable of running most Windows applications.
The Venue 8 Pro feels pretty sturdy, although its casing appears to be constructed largely of plastic, while some devices like the iPad Mini have a metallic case.
This is not such a bad thing, as it makes the device more comfortable to hold for long periods of time. The size and weight of the unit means that it is possible to hold and use it in one hand in portrait mode, unless you have very small hands.
Dell has equipped the device with an IPS display that gives a pretty good image in most conditions, although we found it suffered from glare somewhat from the overhead lighting in the V3 offices. Along with other 8in Windows 8 tablets, the Venue 8 Pro has a rather low resolution of 1280x800 pixels when compared with the 2048x1536 of the iPad Mini 2.
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