Dell's Venue 11 Pro is built in the vein of Microsoft's Surface Pro; a Windows 8 device designed for use on the go in tablet form or as a laptop if equipped with a keyboard attachment.
With an impressive 10.8-inch screen, it's the sort of multipurpose hybrid device which in theory is the perfect solution for a business user. However, while the Dell Venue 11 Pro has features that deserve to be praised, many of them are outweighed by more negative design implementation.
Despite the fact the Venue 11 Pro is advertised as providing "the experience of a desktop", this additional functionality only comes if the keyboard is purchased as a separate accessory. It's a slightly bizarre move. Microsoft has been regularly chastised for supplying its own Windows 8 tablets without a keyboard, so the fact Dell has chosen to trumpet desktop functionality without providing one either is disappointing.
With the most basic version of the tablet priced at £473, the Dell Tablet Keyboard Mobile – the keyboard attachment provided with our review version – adds a significant impact to the overall cost at over £160. A ‘slim' keyboard in the style of Microsoft Surface is available, and is a little cheaper, but we weren't able to test it for this review.
On the plus side, the keyboard feels sturdy – although rather too heavy for a portable device – offering a typing experience that is better than many laptops with a similar screen size, and arguably superior to either of Surface's offerings. However, the version we tested had problems with docking connectivity.
The keyboard seemed to internally disconnect from the tablet too often – despite having not been moved – leading to keystrokes going unnoticed. This happened with unnerving regularity, often at times when focus was away from what has happening on screen, thus leading to a loss of input until the problem was noticed.
Undocking then redocking the tablet offered a temporary solution, but it is an unforgiveable problem for something of this price point and may put off business users, especially those reliant on touch-typing in fast-paced environments like meetings or conferences.
Naturally, being a Windows 8 tablet, the Venue 11 Pro does have an onscreen keyboard, but its unlikely any business user requiring typical office applications will want to use it in this way.
The touchscreen interface, however, offers a mostly smooth experience, even if it occasionally is over-sensitive, resulting in unwanted scrolling down to the bottom of a page.
That, while using WordPad, proved frustrating when half a page of text suddenly became 23 blank pages.
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