Design

Dell’s previous model of the Venue 11 Pro 7000 included a Core i5 processor, which meant it was thicker and heavier than this year’s model. The outgoing model also included the necessary fans to keep the Core i5 cool. The move to Broadwell-Y, or Core M as it is known, changes all of this. The device is now passively cooled, and acts much more like a tablet than before. The weight has also been slimmed down a bit, with the new model coming in at 723 grams. That is a bit under the 800 grams of the Surface Pro 3, although that device is also a bit bigger with its 12 inch 3:2 display.

The display in the Venue 11 is a 1920x1080 IPS model, and that defines the initial tablet experience. It includes generous bezels, which make it easy to hold the device without accidentally touching the display, and the bezels make using Windows 8’s edge gestures a snap. Dell moved to their “Infinity Display” which has minimal bezels on their Venue 8 Android tablet, and while it looks fantastic, it can cause usability issues with the tablet, so keeping the display bezels on this tablet is a good thing.

There seems to be some movement away from 16:9 displays, especially in the tablet space. Apple of course uses a much more square 4:3 ratio on their tablets, which make them a lot easier to use in portrait mode. 16:10 would be better for this tablet, or even squarer like the 3:2 of the Surface Pro 3 and just announced Surface 3 might improve ergonomics of this tablet. When using it in portrait mode, it is incredibly tall and a bit awkward. In landscape, it is a lot better, but still some more vertical height in that mode would be appreciated to help balance the weight when holding it in one hand.

The styling of the Venue 11 is a bit pedestrian, but is nonetheless functional. The glass front has an accurate touch digitizer, and includes the stylus support. The sides are nicely rounded and comfortable in the hand. The power button is on the top right corner, and the volume rocker is on the top left. One questionable port location is the full sized USB port, which is on the bottom left size. If you have something plugged into the USB port, you could not be able to hold onto the device with your left hand. The micro USB power connector is only slightly higher, and can certainly cause an issue if you are holding the device while it is being charged. It would be nicer to see both of these ports moved up on future models. The right side of the tablet has a covered slot for a micro SD card, as well as a chassis lock.

The back of the Dell is covered in a soft-touch coating, which makes it very easy to hang on to and you never feel like it is going to slip out of your hands like some other devices. The rear also houses the 8 Megapixel camera, which is angled a bit to make it a bit easier to use when the tablet is tilted.

Overall, Dell has crafted a sturdy and comfortable successor to their previous Venue 11 Pro, and with the move to Core M it is a much better tablet than before. There are a few issues which may bother some people, such as the display ratio and location of the charging and USB ports, but in the end it is a reasonably thin and light tablet with enough power to be a laptop replacement for many people.

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  • liahos1 - Thursday, April 16, 2015 - link

    can you guys start adding normalized battery life for these products against tablets as well? Reply
  • ingwe - Thursday, April 16, 2015 - link

    I would really appreciate having that back too. It isn't like I particularly care from a user perspective (obviously overall battery life is more important), but I really like to see how different platforms stack up in this regard. Reply
  • jjj - Thursday, April 16, 2015 - link

    No idea why i even clicked , Core M is a horrible product for the price so got no interest at all in anything with it - hopefully AMD. Nvidia ,Qualcomm and ARM will catch up in single threaded perf at a fraction of the price soon. Well,maybe not ARM since A72 seems to be actually smaller than A57 , die size wise.
    Anyway this actually made me laugh when i realized that it kinda looks like the Moto Xoom except with thicker bezels (first Android tab ,4 years ago). OEMs should put more effort than this even in 100$ tabs.
    Reply
  • Speedfriend - Thursday, April 16, 2015 - link

    Apple managed a giant 10% improvement in single core performance between A7 and A8...
    So with the top Core M single core performance around 60% higher than the A8X, Apple will need to produce a miracle.

    And as for the cost, a 128gb iPad Air 2 is $699+$100 for a decent keyboard case versus the low end core M equipped Asus T300 Chi which comes with a keyboard for $699. And the high end T300Chi, which will obliterate the iPAd Air 2 comes in at $899 with 8GB of memory
    Reply
  • jjj - Thursday, April 16, 2015 - link

    Apple has no relevance, they have many limitations and high prices so no reason to even consider them. Reply
  • MrSpadge - Thursday, April 16, 2015 - link

    Apple has a lot of relevance here, because they've got the ARM core with the highest single threaded performance. If anyone closes the gap to Intel it's going to be them. Even if Qualcom could do it, they need to put 4 cores into phones for the "bigger is better" crowd, which means any single core must not be too big - otherwise people will complain that it gets too hot.

    And if Apple only got 10% on their last refresh they may be approaching the region of diminishing returns that Intel and AMD have long been in. It's easy to improve & grow when you start from nothing, but an entirely different matter once you look at mature technology.
    Reply
  • jjj - Thursday, April 16, 2015 - link

    Apple is not a reasonable purchase so it doesn't matter, even if they have 2 times the perf it's not relevant in the real world.
    It is true that the Android guys do need more cores in general but it's also true that Intel doesn't design it's cores for this kind of TDP. And do remember to compare sustained perf and burst perf.
    I don't know for sure the core size for Broadwell on Intel's 14nm or A57 on 14nm Samsung but likely 7mm2+ vs bellow 2mm2 so A57 must be some 4 times smaller. For Apple 2 cores plus cache are some 12.5mm2 on 20nm TSMC but the cache is not very die efficient and on 14nm Samsung the 12.5mm2 would be closer to 10.5mm.
    For A72 ARM claimed 2.4GHz sustained clocks on 16nmFF+ in phones and it appears they mean quad cores. It also appears that A72 is smaller than A57. The numbers i've seen were core size 3.3mm2 , quad cluster(so with cache) 18.7mm2 but not certain about process, i believe it's on 28nm but that could be wrong. A72 at 2.4GHz should be pretty good and it remains to be seen what's the burst perf and how it clocks at higher TDP. It's not impossible for it to be close enough in tabs. We should see the dual A72 @ 2.4GHz on 28nm from Mediatek soon in tabs (some early benchmarks are in the wild already) and later this year the Qualcomm midrange phone SoCs with A72 at 1.9GHz and that will give us a better idea about what kind of clocks would be needed on 16FF+ and 14nm.
    Qualcomm's custom core must beat A72 or there is no point in using it and that's the case with all the other custom cores from AMD, Nvidia, Samsung and whatever else comes.
    Reply
  • pSupaNova - Tuesday, April 21, 2015 - link

    No Nvidia has the ARM core with the highest single threaded performance.

    Look at the Benchmarks in this site for the N9 tablet.
    Reply
  • sonicmerlin - Thursday, April 16, 2015 - link

    They had a 30-40% performance improvement in CPU. Reply
  • Speedfriend - Friday, April 17, 2015 - link

    A8 at 1.4ghz single core geekbench 1619
    A7 at 1.4ghz single core geekbench 1468

    Improvement = 10%
    Reply

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