Tech Review: Dell Venue 8 Pro is the iPad mini, but better

I love living in the future.

I have a LOT of technology in my house, more than my family (of five) need. In fact, I just counted: I have more desktops, laptops and tablets than I have fingers…

And I just bought another one.

Why? Was it pure unbridled techlust (again) rearing it’s ugly head? No. It was because the device I purchased is a breakthrough piece of tech, and a computer I never knew I needed… until I had it in my hands.

It’s the 32GB Dell Venue 8 Pro, a Windows 8.1 tablet that is not just a tablet… it’s a full Win 8 computer, with access to the desktop and ability to install and run any legacy Windows apps. It’s very much like an iPad mini, but with the added value of being able to access the file system and Microsoft Office. I’m mighty impressed.

So impressed, I’m actually writing up this review. I’m not a “tech review” kind of writer, so when I spend the time to do something like this… it matters.

The device is easy to use in the Win 8 “modern” mode, the flat design that Microsoft did long before Jony Ive thought about doing the same for IOS… and surprisingly easy too use in the traditional Windows desktop mode. It’s got a great screen, good speaker, over eight hours of battery life, and with the Windows Store featuring (most) of the apps that I am used to using on the iPad it’s allowed me to pass my third gen iPad down to one of my sons.

Dell (a company I am NOT a fan of, by the way) may have done something I never thought possible… they may have created an iPad killer. Yes, that is pretty high-grade hyperbole, but the more you think about it, the more the possibility rings true. Dell certainly believes they have something special, because they are spending a lot of marketing money promoting the device on TV and print. They are proud of the device, and justifiably so… it’s a fast, well designed piece of hardware that works as a replacement laptop with the addition of a bluetooth keyboard and mouse.

While I am a fan of Apple’s products, I think they are making some mistakes of late, and their emphasis on high profit margins rather than the customer is one of the biggest ones. There is NO REASON for most of their products to be priced as high as they are, and that leaves an opening for competitors like Dell and Google to come in and take potential sales away from them. The Venue 8 Pro is $299, and when you throw in a 64GB storage card for ~$45, you get a device that can serve as a true laptop replacement for most people.

Apple needs to watch out, because I used to be a fanboy for their products… and yet, Dell just got $300 from me. That is something that could be considered a “teachable moment.”

Disclaimer: I work for Microsoft, but my opinions are my own.