Venue 11 Pro £349

2nd Oct 2013 | 19:25

Venue 11 Pro

Dell's 10.8-inch Windows 8 tablet is in the dock

TechRadar rating:

4.5 stars

The Dell squares up to the Surface Pro with great versatility, better accessories and a stunning screen, and it's just as good value when bought with its best peripherals. The Surface Pro might be a bit faster, but the Venue has enough power to get the job done – if you need a tablet for work, you won't be disappointed with this.

Like:

Hard-wearing design; interior access; excellent screen; high-quality keyboard accessory; reasonable processor;

Dislike:

Single battery performance mediocre; Surface Pro has a better CPU; cheaper keyboard is poor; heavy, bulky design; poor speakers;

Dell recently hit the headlines for removing its XPS 10 tablet from its online store, leaving Microsoft as the sole provider of Windows RT tablets after other manufacturers jumped ship.

Its Venue 11 Pro is the spiritual successor to that machine, except that Dell has left the ill-fated Windows RT for dead this time around and replaced it with the full-fat version of Windows 8.1.

The company is pitching the Venue 11 Pro as a tablet geared toward work use and is offering full enterprise support to organisations looking to dish it out to employees.

Its security options include a Trusted Platform Module (TPM), Dell Data Protection and biometric security in the form of a fingerprint scanner or smart card reader.

As with Microsoft's Surface tablets, we can see the Venue 11 Pro appealing to regular folk too for its flexible configuration options and plentiful battery life.

Design and display

Dell Venue 11 Pro

With a black bezel and rounded corners, the Venue 11 Pro looks fairly similar to the XPS 10. In other words, it doesn't exactly scream fun. But then, it's 'bring your own device' (BYOD), not 'bring your own fashion statement', right?

That said, its glossy full HD (1920 x 1080) 10.8-inch IPS display looks sharp and crisp (not quite quad-HD crisp), though that's at the expense of it attracting fingerprints like a magnet.

Its plastic matte panel at the back isn't much better in this department, either. It provides a solid grip but lacks the luxurious feel of the VaporMg shell found on Microsoft's Surface tablets.

Specs

In terms of internal grunt, the tablet is offered with anything from an Intel Atom quad-core Bay Trail CPU all the way up to a fourth-generation Haswell processor (i3 or i5).

It supports up to 8GB RAM, 256GB of storage, WiDi and NFC, and sports the usual connectivity options in the form of a full-size USB port, HDMI out and a microSD card slot.

Dell Venue 11 Pro ports

Dell says it has also made its 10-hour battery removable following "developer feedback", allowing road warriors to take spare juice for long expeditions.

Dell Venue 11 Pro battery

Accessories and dock

While the Venue 8 Pro got a folio-style bluetooth keyboard, its bigger cousin steps things up a notch by offering two keyboard options in addition to a docking station.

In a similar manner to the Touch Cover and Type Cover keyboards paired with Microsoft's Surface tablets, Dell is offering 'Slim' and 'Mobile' (ie. slightly thicker) keyboards.

We weren't too impressed with the skinnier offering. As the name suggests, it's certainly slim, and it does a good job of protecting the tablet when wrapped around it.

Dell Venue 11 Pro keyboard covers

However, rather than opting for the Touch Cover's sensor-driven keys, Dell has gone for shallow physical ones that remind us of those you might find on waterproof roll-up bluetooth keyboards. And that's not a compliment.

Toting a chiclet-style design, the Mobile Keyboard was much improved and felt closer to what you would find on a MacBook, though the keys weren't quite as springy. It clips onto the bottom of the tablet with a magnetic strip to provide Transformer-esque functionality.

Dell has also made a docking station for the Venue 11 Pro that turns the device into a fully fledged PC when the tablet is inserted. It offers two video ports that lets you hook up two displays or a projector.

venue-11-pro

Dell says that you'll be able to pick up the Venue 11 Pro tablet from its official website from Nov. 7 for £349 excluding VAT (around $557 excluding VAT). It's yet to announce U.S. availability or price.

Dell Venue 11 Pro Windows 8.1 tablet TRBC
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