Using the Dell Venue 8 Pro tablet as a Windows 8 desktop (kind of)

Dell’s Venue 8 Pro is an 8 inch tablet with an Intel Atom Bay Trail processor, 32GB of storage, 2GB of RAM, and Windows 8.1 software. So while it’s about the size (and price) of an iPad mini, you can actually run full Windows desktop apps including Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop, and even Apple iTunes.

Under the hood, the Dell Venue 8 Pro is a lot like the Asus Transformer Book T100 I reviewed recently. So when Dell sent me a tablet to test, one of the first experiments I wanted to repeat was trying to see if I could treat the tablet like a desktop computer and get some real work done.

It worked with the Asus tablet… so what about Dell’s?

Dell Venue 8 Pro

Like the Asus tablet, the Dell Venue 8 Pro has an Intel Atom quad-core processor, Intel HD graphics, and 2GB of RAM. It also comes with Office 2013 Home & Student preloaded.

But this tablet has a smaller screen than the Asus tablet, and fewer ports — which means that while it can run all the same software, the experience leaves a bit to be desired.

The Dell Venue 8 Pro has an 8 inch, 1280 x 800 pixel display, 32GB of storage, and a microSD card slot. There’s a single micro USB port, and that’s pretty much it. You don’t get an HDMI or VGA port, and there are no full-sized USB ports. And while you could certainly use the tablet with a Bluetooth keyboard, Dell doesn’t include one.

The company does offer an optional digital pen which you can use with the tablet, as well as a Folio case which doubles as a kickstand. Dell loaned me one of each for testing purposes, and you can see them in the video below.

But if you want to use the tablet as a desktop PC, you’ll run into a few challenges. First, you’ll probably need a micro USB OTG adapter if you want to plug in a keyboard, mouse, or other device with a full-sized USB connector. I happened to have one handy, so I had no problems using the tablet with a wireless keyboard and mouse combo.

Unfortunately since there’s only one micro USB port — and it’s the same one you use to charge the tablet, there’s no way to charge the Dell Venue 8 Pro and use a USB peripheral device at the same time.

Second, since there’s no separate video out port, you’ll have to resort to other methods if you want to hook up an external display. The tablet does support Miracast wireless display technology, and if you have a DisplayLink adapter you might be able to connect a monitor (or four) to the USB port.

But since I don’t have a DisplayLink or Miracast adapter handy, I had to use the tablet’s 8 inch screen. While the display looks pretty good when you’re holding the tablet in your hands and surfing the web, text, images and other graphics look awfully tiny when you stand the tablet on a desk and try to use a keyboard and mouse.

Update: Good news and bad news. The good news is that the folks at Geekbuying sent me a $30 Miracast adapter to test. The bad news is that while it does a good job of streaming video from an Android phone to a TV or monitor, it’s a lot harder to get reliable performance on the Dell Venue 8 Pro with the Miracast adapter I tested. A DisplayLink adapter seems like a better bet

Windows lets you adjust the DPI settings to 125 percent, which helps make everything look a bit bigger, and I set the default zoom level in the Chrome browser to 125 percent for good measure. While that helped me see the screen without squinting, it also meant that I didn’t have as much usable screen real estate as I would have liked.

The good news is that I didn’t have any trouble running Chrome with more than half a dozen browser tabs open while editing images and listening to music. Microsoft Office apps load quickly, and videos from Netflix and YouTube look great.

This little tablet feels just as fast as the 10 inch Asus Transformer Book T100 — but it’s clearly not designed to be used as a desktop, or even a laptop. The smaller screen and the lack of a bundled keyboard make it more of a tablet that you’d hold in your hands and use like a Google Nexus 7 or iPad mini — and unfortunately there are still far more mobile apps for Android or iOS than there are for Windows 8.1.

But if you really want an 8 inch tablet with the power of a full PC, and the ability to run desktop apps, the Venue 8 Pro does fit the bill.

Dell sells the Venue 8 Pro for $300, but Walmart is offering the same tablet for $280.

The company does offer a more powerful Windows tablet called the Dell Venue 11 Pro. It features a 10.8 inch, full HD display and a choice of an Intel Atom Bay Trail or Intel Core i3 or Core i5 Haswell chips — but prices for that tablet start at $500.

  • Ben

    Without a separate power port this tablet is simply a joke ! The HP cost 100 bucks more and has a power port and a usb port and HDMI as well + you get a HD screen. BTW, Amazon is currently selling the Dell for 229.-

    • . .

      there’s a split usb/otg cable with a standard or micro usb connector for power. i don’t need another power brick. prefer standard usb.

  • http://www.dahayden.com/ David Alastair Hayden

    $229 on Amazon today. Personally, I’d prefer to wait on a Surface 8 inch.

    I’m interested in the Venue 11 Pro, but to be honest, I just don’t trust Dell’s build quality and support. Also, I’d rather have Windows RT since I don’t have legacy apps and I’d rather not worry about viruses/malware at all. Still intrigued, though.

    • http://www.liliputing.com/ Brad Linder

      Got a link? Amazon’s showing a $313 price to me.

      • http://www.dahayden.com/ David Alastair Hayden

        And now I see that it’s up $2 more to $315. Gotta love Amazon. It was $229 on one of their daily deals things this morning. I made the mistake of assuming that would last all day.

      • http://www.liliputing.com/ Brad Linder

        Ahh yeah — they’ve been doing lightning deals that last for a few hours, or until sold out. It’s part of their Black Friday Week promotion.

        There are some great deals, but I’ve been struggling to not include them in our daily deals roundup because by the time most people read about them they’ll be gone. :)

      • http://www.dahayden.com/ David Alastair Hayden

        I hate those because I’m the kind of person who likes to take time to make a decision on something. So unless I know what I want and it pops up, I’m usually out of luck by the time I’m ready.

      • http://www.liliputing.com/ Brad Linder

        No kidding… I missed out on a deal for a $30 Bluetooth speaker last week because I was too busy researching the speaker to see if it was any good. It was sold out by the time I decided it was. :)

        I bought a $30 backup battery for phones/tablets with a solar panel this morning. Even if the solar panel turns out to be useless, the price wasn’t bad for a 6000mAh backup battery that I can charge via USB.

      • Jordan Embry

        I was looking at doing the same thing last night! (solar + battery bank)

      • . .

        yes and you can’t return without restocking fee because you didn’t have enough time to make a decision. its not listed as one of the reasons, like doa or bad fit, etc. i stopped shopping on amazon as of july tax and $35 increased free shipping. fuck amazon!

      • onlycodered

        It’s still $229 on Walmart’s site.

      • http://www.liliputing.com/ Brad Linder

        Weird… it was $280 when I included it in my daily deals roundup earlier today. They probably price-matched Amazon and haven’t caught up with the fact that it’s back to full price yet.

      • CBiggerstaff

        FYI Costco online has em for $230 + 10 shipping + tax until sold out today.

    • Vinny

      You are the clueless if you still get malware and viruses on Windows.

      • http://www.dahayden.com/ David Alastair Hayden

        I only ever got one viruses when I was on Windows, and that was in 1995. But, to me, there’s a difference between not getting them through good practices and not having to worry about them at all. Plus, without the worry of viruses, one is not tempted to run antivirus software to slow the system down. I never did run the stuff when I was on Windows before, though.

      • Atul Malhotra

        We r in Oct 2014 . Surface 8 stands cancelled and I just purchased a 10.1 inch awsome Win 8.1 tab for Rs 16,000 or approx 268 USD ! Its just breathtaking , esp at this price !!

      • Melchizedek Ninetysevun

        THATS BECAUSE YOU HAVE TO RUN CCLEANER AND MALWAREBYTES AS PROTOCOL AND HAVE WINDOWS ANTIVIRUS RUNNING BUT WITH RT YOU ARE FREE FROM THAT BOLLOCKS

    • Atul Malhotra

      U dont ‘HAVE’ legacy apps ? What on earth does that mean ?

      • http://www.dahayden.com/ David Alastair Hayden

        Traditional x86 Windows apps. I’ve been on the Mac platform and dabbling with Linux since 2004. So I don’t have any Windows apps that can’t run on RT.

  • Michael Thompson

    So it looks like Dell has shot themselves in the foot by making a piece that could do the job of a desktop and has good enough specs to do it but can’t because Dell cheaped out on the ports.

    Puts back wallet

  • Mark H. Rosengarten

    I got an iPad Mini keyboard that turns this puppy into a clamshell and I use it in my classroom as my ancillary machine. I love this thing.

    • Melchizedek Ninetysevun

      YOU HAVE THE MOST POWERFUL MINI TOUCH LAPTOP THAT EVER EXISTED, COOL SETUP I MUST SAY. SHAME THE KEYBOARD HAS A FRUIT ON IT BUT OTHERWISE ALL SOUNDS GOOD

    • HoppyBrewer

      Which Case?

  • Joe

    Getting a USB hub with video out…simple all the USB ports you want or should need and video out. Unplug for sitting on the couch! Search for plugable on youtube for the video on this tablet

    • Melchizedek Ninetysevun

      FOR ME THE PREFERRED SETUP IS A INTEL HASWE;; NUC USED AS HDTV/MAIN PC PERMANENTLY PLUGGED INTO 55″ MINTOR FROM COUCH WITH A SURFACE RT TO RDP AROUND THE HOUSE OR JUST USE IT FOR MEDIA CONSUMPTION ON THE COUCH WHILE ALSP USING BIG SCREEN. THINK ABOUT IT, HOW OFTEN WILL YOU WANT TO USE THE SAME MACHINE DOCKED AND UNDOCKED AT THE SAME TIME. TABLET AND SEPERATE PC MAKES MORE SENSE. YOURE WELCOME.

      • Joe

        Will only be using the desktop to run my kitchen design software on so i
        can do a design if needed at the weekend, other than that i will be
        sitting on the couch with this. (ipad replacement) Simple hook up to my big monitor only
        when needed! This will be 95% modern UI and 5% for that one time i need the windows desktop program.

      • Melchizedek Ninetysevun

        that’s fair enough but still my suggestion is to have two devices because really its more fun when you can do two things. if you have a partner you can do two things at the same time etc. i hope this dell is good enough to run your kitchen software and it seems a shame that your tablet will need regular windows maintenance, ccleaner, malwarebbytes etc whereas with rt tablet (even with rdp) means no viruses and the intel nuc is happily docked.

        but for your use case 95-5 this dell will be a fun device, please return and let us know how it performs for your case :)

  • artinvent

    Walmart: $229 at the moment.

    That is actually pretty incredible. That is a full Windows 8.1 computer for $229. Add the stylus and you have an amazing little sketchpad that runs full Windows art programs as well. I am sorely tempted.

  • http://oakleafblog.blogspot.com Roger Jennings

    Hi, Brad,
    Don’t you mean MHL, rather than Display Port, to connect to a monitor or HDTV with HDMI? For example, the MicroUSB MHL port on my Samsun Galaxy S4 connects via an inline HDMI adapter to my living room or office HDTV. The MiniDisplayPort on my original Surface Pro connects with a different HDMI adapter, but has many more pins than USB.
    Cheers,

    • http://www.liliputing.com/ Brad Linder

      No… actually I mean DisplayLink, which is video through USB. I’ll have to go back and correct the article… and post a correction in the video. Whoops. :)

      • http://oakleafblog.blogspot.com Roger Jennings

        From Wikipedia item on MHL:

        Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL) is an industry standard for a mobile audio/video interface that allows consumers to connect mobile phones, tablets and other portable consumer electronics (CE) devices to high-definition televisions (HDTVs) and audio receivers. The MHL current standard supports up to 4K (Ultra HD) high-definition (HD) video and 7.1 surround sound audio, including TrueHD and DTS-HD, while simultaneously charging the connected device. MHL-enabled products include adapters, automotive accessories, AV receivers, Blu-ray Disc players, cables, DTVs, monitors, projectors, smartphones, tablets, TV accessories and more. Also to view a device through a MHL cord the TV also has to have an MHL certified HDMI input otherwise this connection will not work.

        MHL was developed by the MHL Consortium, a consortium made up of leading companies in the mobile and CE space that includes Nokia, Samsung, Silicon Image, Sony and Toshiba.
        —-

        Dell is a big-time MHL supporter as a power supply via HDMI for its Cloud Connect (formerly Project Ophelia) dongle, but they gave up because of so little MHL support on the HDTV/Monitor end and now also provide a USB OTG port for power.

  • HildyJJ

    You can enable a virtual keyboard that mimics the full standard PC keyboard by going to: PC Settings – PC and Devices – Typing, and enabling the standard keyboard at the bottom. You lose emojis but get everything else with no long presses needed. I have no idea why this is hidden instead of being the default.

  • Jordan Embry

    I just got one of these last week and I must say I’m fairly impressed. I got it to try to work on Linux on Baytrail but I actually may keep W8.1 around.

    • V1ado

      No current Linux distro makes much sense on a touch screen… I’ve tried 3 or 4 and they all fall short of 8.1 .. by quite a big margin actually

    • Joe_HTH

      Are you high? Why in God’s name would anyone try to replace Windows 8.1 with Linux, on a tablet? Linus isn’t worth a damn on desktops, and you expect it to be worth a crap on a tablet?

      • eversor1

        Haha!! What do you think Android is. Idiot.

  • buzz86us

    can’t you hook it up to a powered usb hub and work it from there to charge it and output to an external display and keyboard?

    • Melchizedek Ninetysevun

      YEAH YOU CAN FIND A GENERIC USB LAPTOP DOCKING STATION ON AMAZON BUT YOU SHOULD ALSO BUY A MICROUSB ADAPTER THING

  • Tony M.

    Has anyone connected to this little guy using Chrome Remote Desktop from their Chromebook? @ $229, I’m thinking of buying this and leaving it running at home instead of my desktop so that my ARM Chromebook is the only thing I need to carry around. Or on business travel, I can bring it along for taking notes and still connect to it through the Chromebook for spreadsheet and powerpoint work since my phone is a router.

    • Melchizedek Ninetysevun

      FUCK YO CHREOMBOOK MAN GET A SURFACE RT AND PROPER RDP OR TEAMVIEWER IF YOU ARE LAZY BUM. CHROMEBOOK HAHAHA YOU GOT HAD MATE

      • monkeyboy

        surface RT?…you must be kidding :DDDD

        check this guy and his comparisson of Venue 8 with Surface RT and Surface 2. Venue 8 is much better than RT, simillar level than Surface 2

      • Melchizedek Ninetysevun

        no way man full usb and kickstand and windows rt with no viruses quick boot up but i wasnt even comparing surface and dell venue, the correct comparison would be surface pro and dell venu.

        i am commenting to the other chap who said he has a bloody chromebook of all things lol. now come on someone ripped him off proper lololol

  • miniwini123

    Anyone know what exact items you need to output the device to a tv or projector? can you give me a link or exact product? please? i think i need an OTG cable to start but which one? secondly a microusb to vga cable but which one? thanks! if you have this working please tell me how. I want to be able to watch video from the unit on a tv. thanks

    • Melchizedek Ninetysevun

      U HV AN XBOX YO? JUST CHARMS AND SEND TO DEVICE. EVEN YOUTUBE WORKS. YOURE WELCOME

    • WP7Mango

      You need a NetGear PTV3000 Push2TV. Or if your TV is DLNA compliant, you can simply send video to the TV.

      • Atul Malhotra

        All modern LED TVs with a HDMI port are DLNA ready. Buy a little 50 dollar Measy Android stick if its not on board !

      • miniwini123

        Thanks for the reply. what i should have said is i need it for business and not going to know exactly the setup in each place. so the safest bet would be [i think]
        some kind of wired solution microusb to vga out put but not sure the products i need to accomplish? i know i need an otg cable but what adapter? THANKS!

      • ddh819

        search youtube for “plugable dell venue 8 pro”

  • buzz86us

    Brad do you have an artist friend that you could lend this to to offer a review? I was initially pretty interested but i heard the pen isn’t very good…

    • Cindy B

      Actually, the pen works GREAT for me. Amazing artwork, great on microsoft office, great with games, etc.

  • Bob

    Hi Brad, what is your opinion on Dell’s case for the Venue 8 pro?

    • Jay

      I got the AceAbove case for my VP8, nice case. Should be around $10 on amazon

  • SlickDeals

    Brad please post naked photos with the tablet. Thanks

  • loopyduck

    It’s unfortunate that it doesn’t support MHL. Would have solved the charging and wired output at least.

  • James

    What’s the case like?

  • Angel Gonzalez

    See its reviews like this that make me upset. This tablet has a lot of potential and can replace a desktop if your willing to invest a few extra bucks on some accessories. I have a setup with an OTG cable using a pluggable dock. Once setup I got my multi monitor 22inch displays, full keyboard and mouse. With full Windows 8.1 on board I have all my corporate applications installed and in use. When I’m done working I just undock it and use it for recreational activities. All of this with one device. Folks consider this deal if you want the flexibility this tablet offers. One piece of advice I will say is go with the 64GB. You need the space. With Black Friday I’m sure somebody will have a deal on a 64GB.
    Regards,
    Angel

    • . .

      if you run out of space can you install desktop apps on sd card?

      • Muffins

        Yes you can, I just did it. I am running full games from Steam off of it. You’ll get some programs that won’t want to install on the sd card but there’s ways to bypass it(installing the programs on an external hdd and then transferring it to the micro sd card). Anyways, before you use your micro sd card, format the card to an NTFS file system. It’ll make it act more like a HDD. There are some guides online that show how you can basically send a majority of your docs/folders(downloads, movies, music, program files)/programs and such to run off the micro sd. But get a class 10 as running applications from there will require faster speeds.

      • . .

        cool. thanks.

  • devalian
    • loopyduck

      Did it work?

      • Max

        yes

  • doc

    can I use unity web player on the venue 8 pro?

  • Robert Brown

    Can I hook up this tablet to an DLP projector? If so, what do I need to buy? Thanks.

    • Jay

      if the DLP projector has an HDMI port you can buy a miracast dongle and wireless connect to the projector, works pretty good. The miracast dongle I use is Netgear PVT3000 which works pretty good

  • Jaun

    Can the tablet’s inbuilt blue tooth be used to connect both a wireless mouse and a keyboard? That ways, we would still have the port free for charging

    • AstroDom

      yes… I have a bt laser mouse and bt keyboard connected to my Dell Venue8 pro 32G 8.1

  • Terra Magnum Imperium

    This video is horrible, the dude needs to stop rambling and get to the point.
    1. How do I find the virtual keyboard, one or steps preferred? Show me.
    2. Unlike my nexus 7 which easily connected to the internet this tablet does not. Why?
    3. So far I find the Dell Venue 8 difficult to use and not user friendly and worse no instruction manual.
    I my return it try a Amazon Kindle or a Galaxy tablet even though it less powerful I read the galaxy 3 is a lot more user friendly…

  • supergear

    Bought this today for 199.99 at microcenter. it’s very nice!

  • Archie

    Anyone out there know if I can connect a 19-20″ monitor to my Dell venue 8

  • brenda

    I am fairly new at all this tablet stuff, but I have a question if anyone could help me out. I have a software program on a disk that I would like to add to my tablet. I have dropbox on my computer and tablet and they are connecting, but I can’t seem to get it to download my software. Is this possible and if so how do I do it? any advice?

  • Bossmanrocks .

    What about screen glare? Is that eliminated or would I only be able to use it only indoors?

  • Gero3

    It’s possible now to use external hdd drives and charge it at same time using different cables or plugable dock. Having said that I think my 8 yr old dual core laptop is much faster than this tablet.

  • Mobile Maven

    So the Dell Venue 8 Pro provides magic if as a full blown PC with Office if you add some simple accessories that total about $97 bucks. (Less if you already have HDMI cable and USB hub.)
    The first Solves the single port power issue: +port usb on amazon:
    http://www.amazon.com/Port-Power-same-mobile-devices/dp/B00J5S2TS4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1408576553&sr=8-1&keywords=%2Bport+usb
    The Second allows you to connect a large screen monitor via USB (others are out there):
    http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004MS0DIK/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_nS_ttl?_encoding=UTF8&colid=2EZWJ70IRCGB4&coliid=I1QSU8UJ5D4JCH
    The third (a simple usb hub you may have already) you need to connect keyboard mouse montior:
    http://www.amazon.com/dp/B003M0NURK/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_nS_ttl?_encoding=UTF8&colid=2EZWJ70IRCGB4&coliid=I2C0YRK8NL4QN9&psc=1
    The fourth a simple HDMI cable that again you may already have. (about 6 bucks on amazon)

    Add another $199.00 for the Dell venue and you have an awesome setup including windows 8.1 and the Office 2013 Suite license from Microsoft. Great for students as you don’t need to have a tablet and a PC.

    I agree that the 64GB version probably better for most folks that store lots of photos etc.

  • startmeup1

    I can’t get chrome to open. I’ve reinstalled it several times. Explorer works perfectly, but I need to use it with Chromecast and you need chrome to use google cast. It worked poorly, when it did open, back when I first got it, but then it kept being nonresponsive and I tried reinstalling it.