iPad mini iPad mini with retina display vs dell venue pro 8 review

Discussion in 'iPad' started by Freyqq, Feb 9, 2014.

  1. Freyqq, Feb 9, 2014
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2014

    Freyqq macrumors 601

    Dec 13, 2004

    The Dell Venue Pro 8 is an interesting device. It lives in two worlds: the desktop world and the tablet world. It does each decently, but not great. Despite its limitations, I can’t help but feel compelled to give it a try.

    App Store

    The Bad: The app store is limited, but it is slowly getting better. Some major apps are missing, and the ones that are present tend to be worse than their iOS counterparts. For instance, the Kindle app is pretty terrible. There is no turn page animation like on iOS; instead you can only tap the left or right sides to turn the page. It also tends to crash. Of the built-in Microsoft apps, they also tend to be worse than their iOS counterparts. The music app only shows seek times when turned landscape mode. The mail app requires a Microsoft account sign-in to add other mail services, like gmail. The only way to get contacts to sync is to allow Microsoft to copy the contacts onto their servers. Calendars from google have no syncing ability whatsoever. Changing settings requires a trip to PC settings (Metro) and Control Panel (Desktop) to find the right settings. Some overlap, but many are just in one or the other. This disjoined experience could be frustrating to a novice windows user.

    The Good: Microsoft has a different design philosophy compared to Apple when making a tablet OS. Apple tends to want to make everything incredibly easy to use and simple, even if that erodes the capabilities of the user to get stuff done. Microsoft, on the other hand, refuse to limit the capabilities of the device just because it is lacking a keyboard. Case in point – the PDF reader. Apple’s version cannot search for key words in a PDF, which is incredibly useful. It also does not have any markup abilities. If you want to do those things, you will need to download another app with those capabilities. But, iOS has no file structure apparent to the user and no way to set a default program. So, one would have to use the iOS PDF reader to open the PDF in another reader. Microsoft, on the other hand, includes all that functionality in their built-in PDF reader. You are also free to set the default program to open PDF files to another app. Next, Apple’s Pages app is a decent, if simple, word processor. Microsoft bundles the full Office Suite with a touchscreen UI mode. Furthermore, it is currently impossible to reply to an email in iOS and attach anything but a picture or video. If I wanted to attach a couple PDFs or documents to a reply email, that is not currently possible. Microsoft’s mail client can easily do so, and I could even run a desktop mail client that has all the advanced features available.

    At the end of the day, the question is, what kinds of compromises work best for your usage case? For me, it is appealing to have the power to do anything a desktop can do. The reason I got the tablet was for going on trips. If I just brought an iPad and couldn’t complete a task due to its limitations, I’m in trouble. Therefore, I’d have to take a laptop in addition. The Dell has the capacity to get anything done, even if it takes a little longer to complete the task than a conventional laptop.

    The desktop experience:
    The Dell can do things on the desktop, but it is not a pleasant experience. I set the text size to 125%, which made everything more readable. Most importantly, it made the UI buttons easier to press. Scrolling through iTunes and Firefox are jerky. It takes a few seconds to load a program. Thunderbird hangs consistently, which can be frustrating. Some applications do not work well in portrait, while others do not work well in landscape. Therefore, I found myself tilting the tablet based on what program I was using. All in all, it is possible to do everything you’d ever want to do in desktop mode, but it is a far worse experience than in the Metro apps. I find myself dreading when I needed to open a desktop app to get something done, as I knew it was going to be a pain to press the tiny buttons with my fingers.

    General usage comparison:
    The Dell feels great in the hand. The rubberized back feels premium, but the buttons are plastic. Where the iPad’s on/off button is placed, the start button is located on the Dell. This was actually a pretty good decision, as it is in a great spot to press when holding the tablet in landscape. The on/off button is located near the volume buttons. I found myself pressing it accidentally when going for the volume buttons. Luckily, it takes under a second to wake from sleep. You can actually bind any of these buttons to other functions with free software, but I never bothered to do so.
    The back camera on the Dell is 5 MP, but the quality is terrible. The lighting looks overly yellow and grainy. The iPad’s back camera is much better. The front camera on the dell is ok, but it tends to be grainy in low light. The iPad’s is much better here as well. Both are 1.2 MP.
    The Dell has a pixel density of about 188, while the ipad mini with retina is above 300 ppi. The screen quality and viewing angles on the dell are good for pictures and movies, but small text is blurry. Meanwhile, small text is crisp and clear on the Apple retina display.
    The Dell uses a 32-bit version of Windows 8.1 and has 2 gb of single-channel ram. While using the Metro apps, 2 GB is more than enough. However, once I opened a few desktop programs, I started to see caching to the eMMC SSD.
    Storage is another interesting point. The Dell also a micro-SD slot, allowing me to double my storage to 128GB for a mere $50. A 64GB to 128GB iPad mini with retina display upgrade is double that price. Of course, an eMMC drive is much faster than a micro-sd card, so you must factor that into the price. Still, with intelligent choices of where to put your data, that speed difference can be mitigated.
    The fact that the Dell is a full PC means that traditional tablet limitations do not apply. I do not need hulu plus to watch hulu. I can watch any flash video on any web site. I can even run the desktop version of firefox with addons.

    On the Dell, using Geekbench 3 32-bit, I got a single core score of 787 and a multi-core score of 2497. That puts it at about iPad 4 single-core levels and just below iPad Air multi-core levels. Not surprising considering that the Dell uses a quad-core. However, this also shows the incredible power of Apple’s A7 dual core ARM chip.
    The eMMC drive in the Dell is slow compared to even a laptop hard drive in a sequential benchmark, but that is to be expected. For a 1GB file, I saw write speeds of 37.5 MB/s and read speeds of 86.31 MB/s.

    The nice thing about the Dell is that you can run full PC games. The bad thing about the Dell is that you are running full PC games on a touchscreen (though it has Bluetooth 4.0, allowing you to plug in a keyboard, mouse, or gamepad). A little program called touchmousepointer (free) allows you to emulate a touchpad, making PC gaming possible. I installed Warcraft III, which ran well and was actually playable using that utility. Civilization 5 has a touchscreen mode, which ran at about 25 FPS on the lowest settings at native resolution. This is the full Civilization experience here, not its simpler cousin on the iOS store. There are also Metro games available, but most of the big names from iOS and Android are missing.


    The Dell 64GB version sells for about $320. Filling the micro-SD card slot with a 64 GB Sandisk Ultra cost an additional ~$50.
    An iPad mini with retina display starts at $399 for 16GB and goes up to $699 for the 128GB.

    The iPad has a better experience overall and is easy to use, but its capabilities are limited in some major ways. I would recommend an iPad to someone who also has a laptop, and they only plan to do content consumption and some light content-creation using the iPad.
    The Dell has more options and capabilities to get stuff done, but the user experience is worse. Also the tech knowledge requirements are a bit higher. You need to know your way around Windows 8.1 Desktop and Metro UI’s, or you will be frustrated. The advantage is that I could only bring this tablet on a trip and not have to also bring a laptop along, in the event that I have to do some task that is impossible on an iPad. The price difference is also a significant factor, but only if you need the extra storage.

    What can Apple do better:
    -More features in an easy to use way. I want to be able to do 99% of what I need to do on a tablet, if I want to.
    -Allow users to set different default applications. Some users have different usage cases and need the extra capabilities of other apps.

    What can Microsoft do better:
    -Somehow get more of the major apps on your platform. Also, get the quality of those apps up to iOS levels. The store is improving, but it is still far behind.
    -Make every control panel option I would ever need while using the Metro interface in that setting panel. Also, make all settings available in Control Panel. That way, you can get to all the settings using either interface.
    -Don't require me to sign into a Microsoft Account in order to read my google gmail account or see my gmail contacts. It is fundamentally less secure to have all my information accessible from two company's servers than from one. It is also a bit too intrusive for my liking. Instead, handle those issues like apple and make the mail, contacts, and calendar apps platform-agnostic.
    -Fix your autocorrect. It is either too aggressive (ex. in the facebook app) or too passive (ex. in microsoft word). iOS usually tends to figure out what I wanted to say if I mistype the word, which really helps with typing speed.
    -Put the autocorrect options on top of the keyboard, not on top of the word. You get it right on half the apps (ex. the finance app). This is much more efficient, as my fingers are already typing on the keyboard area.
    -Get 64 bit support on these atom tablets. The CPU supports it, and 4 GB of ram would have been nice. Heck, even apple supports 64 bit, and their tablets have only 1 GB of ram.
    -About 7 GB is missing due to a restore partition. That’s crazy for a device with 64 GB of storage. After formatting, that is 11.7% of space lost just in case you need to restore. Take a page out of Apple’s book and have a small restore partition with the capability to download the OS off a server in the off chance you need to restore.

    What Dell can do better on the next gen:
    -1920x1200 resolution
    -4GB of ram
    -better cameras
    -USB 3 port instead of USB 2 port and 802.11ac
  2. s2mikey macrumors 68020


    Sep 23, 2013
    Upstate, NY
    That's a pretty reasonable assessment. The reason why apple wins though is the user experience and the apps. Other tablets just aren't up to snuff in this regard yet and it's a killer. The device can be awesome but if there is no good software for it then it hardly matters.

    I'm also not a big fan of hybrids, convertibles, or whatever they call these do it all devices. Jack of all trades, master of none type of thing. To me, a tablet should just be a tablet and be the best it can be. A laptop should just be a laptop and be the best laptop it can be. This attempt to be all things isn't working IMO and it hurts the windows based products badly.
  3. SHirsch999 macrumors 6502a

    Apr 19, 2011
    I've looked at the Dell Venue Pro 8. It's a nice device but I still prefer my iPads. Realistically, the only thing I cannot do on my iPad that would be done on the DVP8 is attaching files to emails. That's still a pet peeve of mine. There's nothing else I would do (of course others might), and the iPad beats it in every other way. I don't mind paying the extra for what to me is a far better product.
  4. Freyqq thread starter macrumors 601

    Dec 13, 2004
    Yeah..it wouldn't even be that hard to add email attachments to reply emails from a UI point of view. If an email message is open, sharing a PDF to email should add it as an attachment to the half-completed email. Instead, it creates a new email with the PDF.
  5. Mcdevidr macrumors 6502a

    Nov 27, 2013
    Dell Venue

    You forgot to mention that Dell could add the ability to charge while using the usb port. I have both a venue pro and ipad mini retina. I like using them side by side usually the ipad playing video while doing some other work on the dell. I also use the dell with a plugable display link adapter and it works great displaying on a 23 inch samsung monitor at 1080p only problem being I can not charge it while using the display link adapter.

    Anyways I like them both. The ipad mini retina is however a far superior tablet. Browsing without a bluetooth mouse on the Dell is annoying. I tend to use it with a keyboard and mouse (bluetooth).
  6. Freyqq thread starter macrumors 601

    Dec 13, 2004
    Miracast was suppose to be the video out option (basically wireless HDMI), but I hear it isn't perfect. I haven't tried it though. i use my macbook pro to handle external display needs :)
  7. double329 macrumors 6502

    Sep 10, 2008
    I recently picked up surface pro for a really good price. Win tablet is nice and very very fluid. The only issue is, there is NO app. In my case it is fine, I can install regular win app and go from there. It is exactly what I want and I can actually do work with it.

    IPad and android have all the apps that you can think of. To me, it does not matter how great the tablet and OS, if there is no apps. It is useless.

    If you really thinking Surface, get the surface pro instead.
  8. Mcdevidr macrumors 6502a

    Nov 27, 2013
    I tested Miracast. It is a pain to use. I am still waiting on a cable assortment from (DX Exchange) that should allow me to have power and use the USB at the sometime on the dell. But yes for external use at least with my current apartment I also use my Mac. I run a 30 ft HDMI cable under my couch from my iMac to the TV for when I want to display something on the TV. Once I move I will probably need another setup.

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