For a while I’ve been waiting for a perfect small, portable device to become available. I tried experimenting with an Android device, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0, but I really am not a fan of Android (I find the UI too cluttered, the notification centre to chatty). Of course I recently started to see the rave reviews coming out for the Dell Venue 8 Pro and they were enough to make me want one. I called a friend at Dell, he ignored my call. So I just bought one, was it worth it?
The device comes with 2gb RAM and a quad core Atom processor which means it’s really quite a snappy device, the latest Haswell chipset helps a lot and from cold this device boots in sub 7 seconds. It’s almost instant on. There is obviously no way to expand the memory but who cares, more is unnecessary. Storage is of course always an issue but with a micro-SD slot I was and am comfortable with buying the base 32Gb version and slotting in a 64gb card.
Ports are as much of an issue on this device as any Android device but this device doesn’t run Android it runs Windows 8.1. The only port on the device is a micro USB port, it’s the charging port and a data port. I popped over to eBay and picked up a cheap (£2) USB on the go (OTG) adapter, I’ve not actually used it yet but I wanted to have the flexibility and it means I can easily connect it to my Pluggable USB dock.
Charging over the port takes some time and really requires mains power. I have to say though I love the flexibility of micro USB charging, it means I can power if from my laptop, from my Nokia top up batter and crucially I only need to carry one cable for both my phone and tablet.
The form factor of the hardware is really nice, 8 inches is a great way to go as a companion device. It doesn’t make me feel like a total tool on the tube like carrying an iPad does, it’s not too big. Its reporter notebook size. Held in portrait it’s easy to type quickly in Word with both thumbs, which is how I’m writing this. In landscape it’s got a good feel too and it’s got a nice soft rubber back too that feels nice in the hand.
The speaker is amazingly loud, but sound quality is poor. Dolby could have helped here! Lastly the screen, which let’s be honest is most of the device is lovely. Most reviews I read said to turn off the auto-brightness so I did but I didn’t find the screen too dull with it on. In fact I have the brightness down quite often just to reduce eyestrain. This screen can be super bright and the UPS panel makes it viewable at all angles.
I can’t really get into a Windows 8.1 review but there are some really nice features that come to life and some things worth noting for using this device in the enterprise. First the apps, we take some flack for the apps we have (or rather don’t) on Windows right now but some feel like they’re designed for 8 inch. Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, Flipboard, Bing everything work well on this device, they’re really snappy and some like Amazon have a very responsive UI, changing themselves when you move between portrait and landscape.
All 8 inch devices come with Office 2013 for home use, meaning you can’t use it for business and you don’t get Outlook. If you want to use this device for business… and I’d strongly suggest you would then license appropriately with Office 365 or another licensing option. I don’t personally think Outlook is essential as the Windows Mail app feels like it’s made for this device. I guess if I were trying to replace my primary device and I docked the device I’d want Outlook.
I love this device. Love it. It’s perfect me it. I’ve been recommending it to friends, colleagues, anyone who’ll listen. Go get yourself an early Christ as present, the best thing about the device is the price at sub £200.