Dell Venue 8 Pro Hands-on: Windows 8.1 Tablet Has Serious Flaw

Dell Venue 8 Pro Front

Pick up the Venue 8 Pro and you’ll be immediately impressed by a few things. First, this Windows 8.1 tablet is light (.87 pounds) and sports a sleek textured finish. This slate also boasts a colorful 8-inch HD IPS display, which makes those Live Tiles pop. But then you start searching for the Start button, and things start to go downhill.

Unlike most Windows 8 tablets, you won’t find a Start button beneath the display. Instead, Dell decided to place this button on the top edge of the screen. (The power button is on the right edge along with the volume controls.) Dell made this call to make the device as thin as possible, but we don’t think the gamble paid off. 

DellVenue11Pro (4) 670x376

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Having to reach to the top of the device each time you want to return to the Start menu is a fail. And even though you can swipe in from the right side to launch the Start menu, that’s an extra step. At least the display is nice, offering 1280 x 800 resolution and a much brighter picture than the Acer Iconia W3.

Otherwise, the Venue 8 Pro has a lot going for it. The 1.8-GHz Atom processor provided snappy performance during our brief hands-on time, and you should expect up to 8 hours of battery life. That’s pretty good for a device that can run both Windows Store apps and desktop apps. That includes Office, which is bundled for free.

Dell Venue 8 Pro Back

The 5-MP camera snapped photos quickly in our tests, and the results looked fairly sharp. Up front you get 1.2-MP camera. The Venue 8 Pro includes 32GB of storage standard along with 2GB of RAM. LTE capability will also be available.

In terms of accessories, Dell has users covered with an optional active stylus, and a protective cover (with a stylus holster) that comes with a wireless keyboard. You’ll have to wait to find out the pricing.

DellVenue11Pro (6) 670x376

Dell keeps things fairly clean with the software load, focusing mostly on Pocket Cloud for syncing files between devices and remote desktop access. With Facebook and Flipboard on the way for Windows 8, we’re hoping the app selection will be robust enough come launch.

If you can get past the odd Start button placement on this tablet, the Venue 8 Pro could satisfy buyers looking for a work-and-play device. We’re just not sure you’ll want to get used to it.

Mark Spoonauer
Mark Spoonauer
Responsible for the editorial vision for Laptop Mag and Tom's Guide, Mark Spoonauer has been Editor in Chief of LAPTOP since 2003 and has covered technology for nearly 15 years. Mark speaks at key tech industry events and makes regular media appearances on CNBC, Fox and CNN. Mark was previously reviews editor at Mobile Computing, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc.
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  1. Maikal Says:

    here is my take on the review. The first 4 or 5 articles on laptop today are about Apple!

    The article leads people to believe ther is many problems with the tablet in question. When you actually read the article, its like, “umm…is that it?” So natuaraly I feel like this is an apple lover looking to find something wrong with a non-apple product!

    It may not be intentional, but when you rag on this tablet over a button position, on tablets that can be held in any position-and-the-screen will fall into place, it seems nit-picking.

  2. Maikal Says:

    @Charles Green, if you really want HDMI on an 8in tablet then you are just being cheap on what you spend on tablets.

    Today you can stream hdmi from just about any system you might have at home. from laptops to setboxes to sticks and desk-top pc.

    Tablets imho are really for reading and maybe passing the time at a doctors visit or riding to wok on public transportation.

    I have to laught at people who see 8in tablets as a game system or a movie projector, which in effect, at its most basic is what an HDMI connection makes your tablet.

    Heck I got an app in my 8in tablet that turns it into a remote control for Satelite TV, while I have netflix streaming from and through an android tv stick.

    more nitpicking.

  3. Joe L Says:

    It must be weird sitting up there making stupid remarks about a non-issue

  4. Bob Says:

    It has HDMI out. Find another reason to complain now. I know you can do it.

  5. Jorj_X_McKie Says:

    Dig, dig, dig… there’s gotta be some crap in here I can fling. That has to be the goal of this so call review. Getting that button off of the front face is a good idea to avoid inadvertent touches, esp when taking notes or sketching with that active stylus. Yeah, it has an active stylus and runs full Windows. That’s frigging HUGE. By all accounts, this is that most interesting looking little table I’ve yet seen. I’m *dang* curious how capable the new Bay Trail Atom is… the Clover Trail was just a smidgen short on desktop apps and I’m pretty certain that this one is going to do the trick. I’m considering dumping some of my overpriced and oversized kit for this little guy…. downsizing as it were.

  6. Steve Says:

    I’d hardly call the placement of the Start button ‘a serious flaw’. If anything, it forces users to be more conscious of opening up the Start menu rather than doing it accidentally.

    As for the author’s complaint about having to swipe from the right of the screen to access the Start menu, I do that all the time with my Surface RT, so it’s no big deal.

    If you want to report on real flaws in the Dell Venue 8, put it through some really rigourous tests and report back to us if you find the tablet has poor battery life or anything else that’s really and truly wonky.

  7. CD Says:

    When you eat from the Apple tree, you’re almost forced to find flaws with anything non-Apple related!

  8. dicobalt Says:

    Wow this article is slanted. Having a start button in a different spot doesn’t exactly qualify as a “serious flaw.” You seem to find one little quirk and blow it up to be a showstopper. This article is a fail.

  9. George Says:

    This is live on Dell’s website now. Office is not bundled for free. The trial version is preinstalled.

  10. Rob Says:

    This article title is just linkbait; Windows 8.1 comes with a start button; there’s a hardware start button AND there’s a gesture for it.

  11. Donald Says:

    “This is live on Dell’s website now. Office is not bundled for free. The trial version is preinstalled.”

    Wrong. Enter in the Windows 8 activation code which is also your Office activation code.

  12. esteban Says:

    Your article shows a complete laziness on the part of the writer. The title is just link bait. This article throws in the question is a junk site? Shame Shame Shame

  13. Michael Says:

    windows button? big deal if it is missing. What it needs is LTE & cellphone! Then I can get rid of my pseudo-good-for-nothing-smart phone!

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