Dell Venue 8 Pro 3000 review

A Windows 8.1 tablet with Office 365 (1-year subscription) available for a bargain £120

Price
£119
  • Good build quality; Long battery life, Office 365 included (1-year); Full Windows compatibility
  • Modest performance; Only 1GB memory; Screen could be brighter

Dell has slashed the priced of its latest 8in Windows tablet to 120 as it aims to compete with low-cost Android alternatives. 

The Venue 8 Pro 3000 is available for a competitive 119 (inc VAT). It's half the price of the 2014 Venue 8 Pro, but does this mean performance and build quality have been sacrificed?

Design

The build quality of the Venue 8 Pro is excellent for such an affordable device. Dell has opted for an attractive soft-touch plastic finish that feels comfortable in the hands, and leaves many of its low-cost rivals looking cheap and flimsy. The chassis is sturdy with little hint of flex.

Like its predecessor, the Venue 8 Pro 3000 measures 9mm thick, but is fractionally lighter at 391g. The weight is well balanced too, so you can hold it upright in one hand with no trouble when you're browsing the web or tapping out an email. 

We did find the placement of the Windows button to be odd. For some reason Dell has taken it off the front of the device and moved it to the edge next to the volume controls. Reaching it is now awkward and you'll often have to tilt to the device so you can see if you're pressing it.

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Connectivity is also limited. There's a single micro-USB port for charging the tablet, but no space for a full-sized USB connection - so you won't be plugging in any memory sticks. There is a micro-SD card slot, allowing you to add up to 128GB of storage if required. 

There's no room for any display outputs either, so you can't connect the tablet to a larger screen for presentations at work or just watching video at home. 

Display

The 1,280 x 800 resolution (189dpi) provided by the Venue 8 Pro 300 is modest when compared to the 2,048 x 1,536 resolution (326dpi) of expensive rivals such as Apple's iPad Mini 3. However, the IPS panel used here provides bold colours and good viewing angles, and is more than adequate for web browsing or watching streaming video. It wasn't as bright as we might have liked but, to be fair, the display is still above average for a tablet costing just 119.

There's a headphone socket on the top-right corner of the tablet, but the built-in speakers sound quite respectable, so the Venue 8 Pro 3000 will work well for an impromptu presentation in a coffee shop or simply watching some streaming video at home. 

The Venue 8 Pro also includes a 1.2-megapixel front camera, and 5-megapixel rear camera. Neither of these is high quality, but they'll be adequate for quick snapshots and the occasional Skype call.

Performance

One of the cost-cutting measures that has allowed Dell to reduce the price of the Venue 8 Pro 3000 is the use of the free 32-bit version of Windows 8.1 With Bing'. Microsoft introduced this edition last year in order to counter the onslaught of low-cost Android tablets. As the name suggests, devices running this OS will have Bing preloaded as the default search engine.

There are a few compromises when it comes to the use of components as well.

The Venue 8 Pro 3000 is based on the Intel Atom Z3735G, a quad-core chip that runs at 1.33GHz with a burst option capable of hitting 1.83GHz. It's supported by a meagre 1GB of memory, which limited it to a score of just 26 points when running our Windows benchmark tests. It was slower than last year's Venue 8 Pro (36 points), and reflected in the rather leisurely 15-second start-up time. 

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There's also a noticeable pause when you rotate the screen. But the tablet wakes from sleep as soon as you tap the Power button, and once up and running we found it usable when performing routine tasks such as web browsing or typing in Microsoft Word or Excel. Dell has also included a free one-year subscription to Office 365 to provide access to your business documents, which adds value for money. 

Storage And Battery

The Venue 8 Pro 3000 is only available in a single configuration with 1GB of memory and 32GB of internal storage. On our review unit, 16GB of storage was available for our own files. You can use the micro-SD slot to add extra storage, but if you want to increase the standard memory or storage it's worth considering the Venue 8 Pro 5000 model, which provides 2GB memory and 64GB storage for 235 (inc.VAT).

Even the Wi-Fi is rudimentary, being limited to a single-band (2.4GHz) 802.11n. However, the Venue 89 Pro does deliver when it comes to battery life. Running our video playback test with Wi-Fi turned off and screen brightness set to 75 per cent, the Venue 8 Pro 3000 lasted for a healthy 11 hours and 30 minutes, so it's got the efficiency to last through the working day.

Overall

The Venue 8 Pro 3000 is good value. Build quality compares well with similarly-priced Android tablets. If you're in the market for a low-cost tablet with full Windows compatibility then it's one definitely a contender.

Verdict

Despite its limited performance, the Venue 8 Pro 3000 a great value full Windows tablet

Processor: 1.33GHz Intel Atom Z3735G

Display: 8in IPS panel, 1,280 x 800 resolution

GPU: Intel HD Graphics

Memory: 1GB DDR3 

Storage: 32GB eMMC (16GB available)

Connectivity: single-band 802.11n, Bluetooth 4.0

Ports: 1 x micro-USB, 1 x micro-SDXC, 1 x headphone

Dimensions (HxWxD): 216 x 130 x 9mm

Weight: 391g

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