The other day I reviewed the HP Pavilion X360 laptop. In many ways it is a 2014 netbook with a cool design and touchscreen. This is the first in a series of posts on the Dell Venue 11 Pro tablet/keyboard I was sent as part of the Intel 2in1 Program. I could not be more surprised that … I love this computer.As someone who loved using a Windows XP Tablet, I am thrilled to be back using something that offers the convenience of a tablet, the functionality of a laptop and the power of an UltraBook with a Core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM and a speedy SSD drive. So while the HP Pavilion X360 was comparable to a netbook, this laptop, at least to my mind, goes up against the 11” MacBook Air. What amazes me— and I cannot believe I am writing this— is that it beats the living crap out of the MBA. Seriously, this laptop/tablet combo has a better screen — it offers a 10.8” Full HD — the same size drive as the Air I owned a few months ago and offers plenty of speed. It offers 8-10 hours of battery life when used as a tablet and, when used with the $150 optional Mobility Keyboard, offers battery life of over 15 hours.
Better still, it gives you the flexibility of having both a laptop and a tablet and switching between the two with the press of a button. Yes, in seconds you can undock the screen and enjoy a fully functional Windows tablet.
I do wish the laptop shipped with a stylus so you could get full Windows tablet functionality right out of the box. Moreover, I wish the tablet portion had a spot for the stylus. That, however, would have required the tablet being thicker than it is and, as it is, the tablet is thick and a bit on the heavy side.
Dell Venue 11 Pro Specs
My Intel 2in1 Program Dell Venue 11 shipped with an Intel Core i5 processor (3MB Cache and a 1.5GHz Dual-Core), Windows 8.1, 4GB of RAM and 128GB of SSD storage built in. (It can be configured up to 256GB.) In addition there is an SD slot that can handle up to a 128GB microSD card. That means I can easily have 256GB of space on the go. That’s not too shabby!
The 10.8” IPS display has a resolution of 1920-1080 resolution and 10 point capacitive touch. The system is rounded out by a 36Whr offering the noted 8-10 hours of battery life. Add in the Dell Tablet Keyboard Mobile that was included with the Venue 11 Pro and you can see up to 15 hours or so per charge. THAT is impressive.
I am pleased the tablet came with the keyboard battery not only because the extra 50% of battery life is always welcome but because the keyboard is actually fantastic. The island keys have a nice bit of play and offer plenty of feedback. The result is a typing experience that is at least on par with typing on the 11” MacBook Air.
And while the trackpad is taking some time to get used to, it is more than sufficient and nothing says I can’t also use a mouse with the laptop. It certainly runs rings around the keyboard cover you can purchase for use with the Surface 3!
The Venue has a few additional tricks that make it a bit different from any laptop I have used previously. First, in addition to the 2MP front facing camera that is great for video chats, it also has an 8MP rear shooter. I don’t see using the camera all that often, but it is a nice touch that becomes more interesting when the Dell Venue 11 is being used as a tablet.
The computer also has Bluetooth 4.0 AND NFC, something I am quickly finding to be a must now that I have a phone with NFC built in.
Dell Venue 11 Pro Build
The build-quality of the Dell Venue 11 Pro is impressive. I make a point of starting my discussion of the hardware by noting that because I had come to equate Dell laptops with cheap-feeling plastic boxes. That isn’t simply a bias I had but rather the conclusion I drew when staff members bought Dell laptops for work and they were… Cheap-feeling plastic boxes. That is anything but the case with this laptop. Yes, the outside of the tablet AND the keyboard portion of the unit is made of a soft touch material but it feels solid and high-end. And that holds true even though the top of the laptop (or the back of the tablet depending on how you look at things) is a plastic shell that can be removed if you need to access the internals. The front of the screen is entirely glass with a thick black bezel along each side. The deck of the keyboard feels as if it is magnesium or some other tough alloy that feels solid but does not weigh too much.
Speaking of weight… all of the computing power and battery are obviously housed in what is effectively the screen of the laptop. This makes sense since it is also a tablet. The result, however, is a laptop which comes perilously close to being top-heavy without actually crossing that line. Since I have the keyboard with the built-in battery, I expect it weighs more than the thin mobile keyboard that Dell also offers. I would be curious to know if the weight distribution is more of an issue when that keyboard is used.
Dell describes the Venue 11 Pro as delivering “the portability of a tablet, the power of an Ultrabook and the experience of a desktop.” Having used it for just a few days (cue Travis calling me a traitor…), this Apple fanboy would have to agree on all counts.
This laptop/tablet combination isn’t inexpensive. When you add on the specifications that give it the capacity and speed to be truly useful, it begins to approach $1000. You can get it for as little as $429 but that system has an Atom processor and, 2GB of RAM and just 32GB of onboard storage; when considering a Windows PC that is not nearly enough these days.
All in all, I’m impressed with the Dell Venue 11 Pro when used as a laptop. I have the stylus on the way, so I can get a better sense of how it functions as a tablet. I’ll cover that in part two of this series.
Source: Supplied review sample as part of the Smart Squad #Intel2in1 program
MSRP: Varies depending on Configuration
What I Like: Fast; Functions as a laptop and tablet; Gorgeous screen; NFC and Bluetooth 4.0; Front and back camera; Amazing battery life
What Needs Improvement: Tablet is a bit heavy; No included stylus; No stylus garage;
Get the loaded version of the Dell Venue 11 Pro with a 256GB SSD through out Amazon Affiliate Store for under $750 [Affiliate Link} by clicking here.
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