First look: Dell Venue 11 Pro tablet (Bay Trail, swappable battery)

The Dell Venue 11 Pro is a Windows tablet with a full HD display, up to an Intel Core i5 Haswell processor, and support for accessories including an Active Stylus and a keyboard dock that transforms the tablet into a notebook.

While top-of-the-line models sell for $850, you can pick up an entry-level Dell Venue 11 Pro with an Intel Bay Trail processor for $500. That makes this Windows tablet a bit pricey compared with an Asus Transformer Book T1000, but a steal compared with a Microsoft Surface Pro.

Dell loaned me a Bay Trail-powered Venue 11 Pro to test, and while I’m just starting to test the tablet, I wanted to share some initial thoughts.

dell venue 11 pro front

The unit Dell sent me features an Intel Atom Z3770 quad-core processor, 2GB of RAM, and 64GB of storage. It’s running Windows 8.1 Pro software and features WiFi, Bluetooth, and NFC.

The tablet has a 10.8 inch, 1920 x 1080 pixel touchscreen display, which makes it pretty close in size to Microsoft’s Surface tablets. But unlike the $449 Surface 2, Dell’s tablet can run the full Windows 8.1 operating system… but at $499 and up, you can pick up the Venue 11 Pro for just over half the price of the $899 Surface Pro 2.

It has an 8MP rear camera, 2MP front-facing camera, and a good range of ports including a microSD card slot, mini HDMI, a full-sized USB 3.0 port, and a micro USB port.

You need to poke the microSD card slot with a pin or paperclip to open the door, so it seems like Dell doesn’t actually expect you to swap out removable storage all that often.

Speaking of swapping parts though, Dell does make it easy to replace the battery on the Venue 11 Pro. You can pop off the rear cover without a screwdriver — although snapping it back on takes a bit of finesse.

Dell Venue 11 Pro battery

Once the cover is open, you can slide two switches to release the 32Whr battery and replace it. So while Dell says you should be able to get up to 8-10 hours of battery life, if you pick up a few spare batteries, you could go much longer between charges. You’ll want to power down your system before swapping the battery though.

Another way to extend the battery life is to pick up an optional keyboard dock, which has its own built-in battery. I’m still waiting for Dell to send me a keyboard to test, but the Windows 8.1 software on the tablet is already configured to support the battery — when I check the battery level, it shows me the status of the internal battery and lets me know that a secondary battery isn’t currently detected.

Dell also offers a much-cheaper Venue 8 Pro tablet for around $300. That model has a slower Bay Trail processor, an 8 inch, 1280 x 800 pixel display, and an entry level model with just 32GB of storage. But the premium features on the larger model including the full HD display, extra ports, and removable rear cover make this tablet feel like it comes closer to deserving the “Pro” name.

I’ll be testing the tablet’s battery life, performance, and general utility in the coming weeks. But after spending just a little time with the tablet, I can say it shows a lot of promise.

 

  • Cal Rankin

    Removable batteries are nice. I like that this has one.
    I wish more tablets had them

  • Vcoleiro1

    When are Intel and MS going to kiss and make up. You’ve got MS making ARM tablets and Intel pumping out Android devices. These two need to get back together. MS more so than Intel.

  • http://bayton.org/ Jason Bayton

    I literally finished my own review of the Pro 11 Atom yesterday. It’s a nice device but it fell short many times for me over a ~ 2 month trial.

  • Michael Thompson

    Man this one is pretty tempting…

  • Michael Dinsmore

    I don’t own a MS Tablet so I probably just don’t understand, but why would I want one of these over an iPad or an Android tablet that has thousands of awesome apps for it? With only 2gb of RAM is certainly isn’t capable enough for “real work” like the ads try to convince me. I’m not a typical user, I admit, but I’m still forced to a desktop or laptop that supports at LEAST 8gb of RAM to get my work done.

    • CyberGusa

      I highly doubt you actually need 8GB of RAM to get work done, most desktop programs never need that much to run… It’s mainly multi-tasking and a few rare high resource hogging productivity apps that would ever go into that range… It may seem otherwise sometimes but Windows actually scales pretty well to how much RAM you have and going above 4GB will rarely show an actual improvement in system performance and is instead just scaling to available resources.

      Though, it would be preferable if these products offered at least 4GB of RAM for better flexibility but as long as you keep multi-tasking to a minimum then 2GB still suffices for most basic PC usages.

      Keep in mind the low price ranges these devices are being offered and that these basically replace the gap left in the market that netbooks used to fill… You’d also pay more for an iPad and while a iPad is fun and all but it only runs iOS and if there isn’t an app for what you want to do then you’re stuck as a Mobile OS lacks the flexibility and range of options a desktop OS provides!

      There’s also the lack of peripheral support with an iPad, mobile OS aren’t designed to support the range of devices you can connect a desktop OS PC to… Typically, unless the devices is specifically made to work with the iPad then it won’t… The iPad doesn’t have a USB port, it doesn’t have a microSD card reader, many of the features it does support are proprietary and work only for the iPad and similar Apple products, the base model starts with only 16GB storage and can’t be upgraded, it has even less RAM, etc.

      Really, for the price of an iPad, and all the accessories to make it useful, etc I could just get a Ultrabook or even the basic MS Surface Pro 2!

      Now, this particular model isn’t as cheap as other Bay Trail products out so far but generally they are below $500 and some even dip below $300… The iPad Air may start at $499 but that’s only for the 16GB WiFi only model and you still have to shell out more for a card reader, port adapters, etc. along with investing in compatible peripherals to make the most use of the iPad… So it’s really a huge investment…

      Bay Trail devices may not be a big step above what the iPad offers but it’s still a step up and for most people that’s enough…

      • Ruckus1

        You are right. I have been around awhile and probably only 1% of users will use 6gb ram. That would even be rare. 4 gb is quit a bite.

      • Michael Dinsmore

        If I got one of these, it would be do do work — and yes, I would need the memory. As I mentioned, I’m “not a typical user” and I would want my software development to work, i.e. IntelliJ, JBoss, etc. for my work (genetics research) which requires large data sets. If I was to use it just for VNC, then I’d prefer a tablet with better/more app support like Apple/Android and plugging in USB devices isn’t something I typically do.

      • CyberGusa

        You may want to better define “better/more” app support because mobile OS like Android and iOS may have more apps but they’re only better for mobile usage…

        For example, someone wants to use Photoshop, MS Office, Illustrator, etc. on a Bay Trail device, they can but they can’t on a mobile OS device because they were never intended for productivity at all!

        So think of it as the difference between being limited but still flexible to simply being limited as the difference.

        Even with the older far less powerful netbooks of the previous years, people used them for DJ work, robotics, amateur radio, school, blogging, etc. While these Bay Trail devices are over twice the power of those old netbooks!

        So, while you may not see the point it’s definitely there… The low price especially makes it attractive to those who don’t want to spend a lot… and like I already pointed out, you still get more for the money than a iPad offers.

        Sure, it’s not for everyone but there’s not really any such thing as one size fits all for such products… we’re all different and we all have different needs and wants but the majority of us can settle for basics and these devices make good secondary PC’s to supplement what we do with more powerful PC’s.

        Btw, the Bay Trail models going into laptops under Celeron/Pentium branding can support to 8GB… It’s only the tablet specific Bay Trail that’s limited to 4GB and it’s because the mobile market isn’t yet mass producing 4GB for mobile devices that they’re really still offering only 2GB for now…

        The next update with Cherry Trail T will raise the mobile range to 8GB max support and we’ll likely see higher capacities offered for all mobile devices starting before the end of the year… So, even if you don’t like this generation, the next should appeal to even more people…

      • Michael Dinsmore

        Well, that’s good to know! I’ll hold off and keep my eyes open on that (Cherry Trail). Thanks for the info!

    • Jwin

      You do different types of work on a laptop vs tablet. I tried the apple and android route for a few years each, my conclusion was they still fall short. Productivity apps like ms office don’t work as well as the original. My surface pro runs ms office on 50 percent CPU with 4gb ram very well. I get about 7 to 8 hours. It’s nice to have one mobile device and vnc to the desktop for more complicated tasks like virtual machines. That’s my two cents for what it’s worth.

      • Ruckus1

        I think you are right, I love Android and will always have MS tablet but in my opinion, there will always be a need for a large screen PC

  • Jeremiah Yong

    so this or the Asus T100

  • http://ScottSoapbox.com/ Scott Soapbox

    Brad I hope they sent you a stylus so you can cover that in your review. This guy looks like one that is the right mix of size, cost & performance for me.

  • Rico

    Hey Brad,
    Thanks for the review. One question: above the removable battery there appears some more panels. Could this be upgradable memory or storage? Thanks.

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

      It doesn’t appear that anything but the battery is designed to be easily upgraded/replaced.

  • William Aloysius Kleiman Jr

    Swappable batteries are intended for the market they are after enterprise byod solutions designed for business so kinda stupid Dell didn’t include a small internal battery that would allow for hotswapping the battery.

    As for the the name PRO you see this on a lot of Microsoft tablets it an attempted slap at Googles Android saying you’ll never be professional and just a toy. Microsoft continues to fail to make a decent OS so attacks it competition with stupid little things like this.

    Best thing microsoft ever did was get business and schools dependent on its software. After 10 years cost is to much to switch and people raised on windows are to familiar with it to move to the better alternatives.

    But I’ll never switch to widows 8 or 8.1 I’ll keep my Win7 for when I need it and my Mint16 for my daily.

    Windows 8 worst windows since Windows ME.

  • WANg

    32 or 64 Bit OS?