Dell sent me several of their tablets to review, and they run the full range from their Venue 8 inch Android tablet through their Venue 11 inch core i3 Windows 8.1 Tablet with Keyboard. What remains to be seen is if the range of OS choices and hardware is enough to make an impact on a crowded tablet market.
Dell did something different with the Venue 8 series by offering the same exact hardware running two operating systems. The Dell Venue 8 3840 is running Android 4.4, while the Venue 8 Pro 3845 is running Windows 8.1 on the same Intel Atom Z3480 processor at 2.1Ghz. Both have the same PowerVR G6400 Intel video chip and 1GB of DDR memory. While this is convenient from a hardware perspective, it forces some compromises. The most annoying to me is the fact that it prevents the use of an active stylus, crippling OneNote and several other core software functions of Windows8.
The Hardware itself is extremely capable on the Android platform. The Intel chipset really is overkill for Android 4.4 in fact, but it comes in handy if you use the DellCast their HDMI device that mirrors your tablet to any HDMI screen. This is an awesome trick, and one that no other tablet is doing at this point. Using your android device as a desktop computer is an intriguing prospect that could catch some peoples imagination. The hardware is also fairly capable on the Windows 8.1 platform, where I saw no issues with the default OS with the exception of the default digitizer not allowing for active pen input. The 8 inch form factor is perfect in my opinion for either OS. If the 3845 had an active stylus it would be perfect.
The Venue 11 Pro they sent me is running the core i3 processor with 4GB of DDR RAM and an impressive 128GB SSD. They also included the Dell Tablet keyboard for mobile adding an additional 10 hours of battery life with its shared internal battery. This machine compares and in some specs exceeds the Surface 3 I have reviewed from Microsoft, but in function it isn't quite there. The active stylus is nice and mostly works, but the way they have mounted the digitizer to the glass leaves some accuracy issues. Add this to the palm rejection issues I always seem to have as a lefty with touchscreen writing and you have a recipe for frustration.
The digitizer issues are the biggest reason I had hoped the Venue 8 Pro had been able to make use of the active stylus, as a smaller screen means less chance that my hand need rest on said screen while writing. Oh well, such are the compromises hardware vendors need to make sometimes.
In all Dell has released and impressive lineup, and the flexibility of using android on the desktop via the DellCast was a master stroke. They are left with one unfortunate fact of the crowded marketplace though: no amount of marketing (which Dell has been bad at in recent years) or innovation (which people need to know about to be successful) has a chance of eroding Apple's strangle hold on the tablet market.