Dell gets serious about tablets and 2-in-1s

Dell gets serious about tablets and 2-in-1s

Summary: Dell unveiled a line of Venue Windows 8 and Android tablets, an 11-inch hybrid and a couple premium XPS Ultrabooks that it hopes will shake the PC market out its slump.


Earlier this week I wrote about the Dell XPS 12, which is one of the best hybrid devices currently available.

Today Dell announced a series of tablets, convertibles and refreshed Ultrabooks--under both the Venue and XPS brands--that illustrate how serious the company is about this emerging category.

Dell Venue 8 Pro (Image: Dell)

The most interesting of these are a pair of Windows 8.1 tablets including the first 8-inch model and an 11-inch one with a range of features designed to appeal to both consumers and businesses. Both can also accept pen input using an optional Dell Active Stylus.

The Venue 8 Pro has a 1,280x800 IPS display and the Bay Trail Atom quad-core processor announced at Intel’s annual conference last month. At 400 grams and 8.9mm thick, it is arguably the smallest tablet available that delivers full Windows 8, along with a copy of Office 2013 Home & Student (the Acer Iconia W3 weighs 500 grams and is 11.4mm thick). The Venue 8 Pro, equipped with 2GB of memory and 32GB of storage, will be available starting October 18, for $300.

The ambitious Venue 11 Pro is, like the Asus Transformer Book Trio, an attempt at a 3-in-1 that can bridge the worlds of the tablet, laptop and desktop. It has a 10.8-inch Full HD IPS display and a choice of either the Bay Trail Atom processor or fourth-generation (Haswell) Core i3 and i5--some of which come equipped with Intel’s vPro technology for businesses.

Dell Venue 11 Pro (Image: Dell)

Like its smaller sibling, the Venue 11 Pro works with an optional stylus. Dell rates the Venue 11 Pro at a competitive 10 hours of battery life, but it also has a removable battery--an unusual feature in a tablet--which means you can swap in a second one for extended use. What sets the Venue 11 Pro apart is a line of accessories including a Slim Keyboard that doubles as a cover--like Microsoft Surface--a more substantial Mobile Keyboard with an extra battery built in (up to 16 hours combined, Dell says), and a Desktop Dock with outputs for two displays and two USB 3.0 ports.

The Venue 11 Pro will start at $500 with an Atom Z3770 quad-core, 2GB of memory and 32GB of storage. It can also be configured with Intel’s Haswell-Y Pentium and Core i3 and i5 processors, which in this case use as little as 6 watts (some upcoming chips will consume even less) in typical tablet usage scenarios. You can also get it with up to 8GB of memory and drives with capacities up to 256GB. The Venue 11 Pro will be available starting in November.

In my previous post, I mentioned that Dell will be releasing an XPS 11 convertible. Now it has announced the details on what it is billing as the world’s thinnest (11-15mm thick) and most compact 2-in-1, weighing in at only 2.5 pounds. Unlike the XPS 13, this one uses the hinge that folds backwards 360 degrees like the Lenovo Yoga, but with a wrinkle: the 11.6-inch display has a Quad HD resolution. Dell says this is the first 2-in-1 of its size with a 2,560x1,440 display; the larger XPS 13 tops out at 1,920x1,080. Although the design is different, the XPS uses the same high-quality materials—machined aluminum and carbon fiber—that make the XPS 13 feel sturdy and look stylish. Unfortunately the keyboard is different, but you can’t have everything in a system this small.

Dell XPS 11 (Image: Dell)

Like the Venue 11 Pro, the XPS 11 will offer Intel’s Haswell-Y low-voltage processors. It will be available in November starting at $1,000 with a Core i3-4020Y processor, 4GB of memory and an 80GB solid-state drive.

Dell also announced two Android –based tablets, the Venue 7 and 8, designed to reach down into lower prices. These are based on the older Atom Clover Trail dual-core processor. The Venue 7 has a 7.0 inch IPS display (1,280x800), Atom Z2560, 2GB of memory and 16GB of storage. The Venue 8 has an 8.0 inch IPS Display with the same resolution, a faster Atom Z2580, 2GB of memory and either 16- or 32GB of storage. In comparison to the Nexus 7, the Venue tablets are slightly thicker but about the same weight, which means they are very easy to carry around or hold in your hand for long periods. The Dell Venue models also come with a microSD card slot—something you don’t get on the Nexus 7—but they run an older version of Android (Jelly Bean 4.2.2). The Venue 7 and 8 will be available starting October 18 for $150 and $180, respectively. Intel has vowed that it will compete in the fast-growing market for low-cost Android tablets, and these models are the proof.

Dell Venue 8 (Image: Dell)

Dell rounded out the announcements with two new XPS laptops. The XPS 13 refresh adds a 13.3-inch Full HD display (a touchscreen is optional) and fourth-generation Core processors that boost performance and provide better battery life. But it has about the same footprint as an 11-inch model, according to Dell, and weighs less than 3 pounds. It will start at $1,000 with a Core i3 processor, 4GB of memory and a 128GB SSD and will be available in November.

The XPS 15 has a 15.6-inch display with an optional Quad HD+ (3,200x1,800) resolution but is only 8-18mm thick and weighs 4.4 pounds. Starting at $1,500, the XPS 15 is more than twice the price of an average laptop but it also boasts some serious specs. The base configuration has a Full HD display, and a Core i5-4200H processor with Intel HD 4400 graphics and 8GB of memory, but you can also configure it with the faster Core i7-4702HQ, more memory and Nvidia GeForce GT 750M discrete graphics with its own 2GB of memory. The XPS 15 also pairs a 32GB SSD with a 500GB hard drive (larger drives are an option) to boost performance. It will be available starting October 18.

The one thing Dell won’t be offering is Windows RT. The company recently discontinued its XPS 10 tablet—the only remaining Windows RT device aside from Microsoft Surface—and Dell executives said they have no plans to develop or sell additional Windows RT devices.

Topics: Tablets, Android, Laptops, Windows 8

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  • Ironically, RT is more for enterprise

    RT is great when you want a low maintenance device that does a few specific tasks well but with almost no maintenance. What is taht useful for? Mostly for businesses. Need 20,000 simple devices that cost almost nothing? Get a cheap RT device. Could you get an iPad to do this? Sure, but with enterprsies already equiped to deal with MS and the latest management software includes support for RT, an RT deployment is very easy. In addition, no one would want to steal your RT device. Walking around with an iPad is like walking around with a pair of Air Jordans while the RT is your typical no-named Walmart sneakers. How many people have been beat up for Walmart sneakers? The safest item to carry is the one no one would risk stealing.
    A Gray
    • Actually

      RT is a consumer OS, like the consumer toys built for Android and IOS. Yes it integrates with the enterprise via Intune & SCCM but it doesn't support Group Policies like Windows 8.x.

      I don't frequent the hood but I'm fairly certain a thief would steal a Surface 2 without hesitation. Most thieves aren't brand specific they steal to gain what they don't have. I've seen a number of shop lifter retained at Walmart and it wasn't for I-toys...
  • That XPS 15 sounds nice

    There aren't very many high end desktop replacement laptops around right now. They're kind of indispensable for software developers working away from their dual screen desktop machines.
    Sir Name
    • Yes but

      Yes but it also needs to be a hybrid and not stuck in a clam shell.
  • RT is not just for enterprises

    It works very well for web and media use cases and students or anyone that doesn't need windows apps although you get the bonus of Office Lite included. The major difference is it just works on the web, you DONT need an app for that.

    Dell is even hedging on Bay Trail apps implying light windows apps vs full blown windows apps for Haswell configs.
    • Why not?

      over the time WinRT library would evolve and since most of the enterprises are getting in SaaS model leveraging private, public and hybrid cloud models to deploy their services WinRT could utilize. Of course the Windows RT tablets prices have to come down to be competitive in order to sustain. Now if Microsoft make the Smart Client Framework utilizing the async and await with local storage to cache in offline mode, I think that pulls a lot a magic for enterprise systems.
      Ram U
  • Dell has done a nice job with an array of modern devices

    From small tablets to hybrids to ultrabooks and full laptops they have what appears to be a nice selection to choose from. Much better than last year. It's good to see the vendors upping their game, it was sorely needed. I believe they had become complacent and stale with their designs which contributed to weak sales.
  • Dell gets serious about tablets and 2-in-1s

    Now with the 2 in 1's that are out that whole tablet fad didn't last long.
    • You mean the "tablet only" mantra is gone!

      Ram U
  • The Venue 8 Pro and Venue 11 Pro

    The Venue 8 Pro and Venue 11 Pro will challenge surface mini and Surface pro because it much cheaper...

    I have been waiting for years for a Win 8 mini and Venue 8 Pro seems to be the answer. At $300, with Office 2013, its a killer deal for me.
    • OTOH, I am waiting for Surface Mini

      I don't OEM crap from the system. I prefer a better tuned system without crap installed for me and I don't mind paying a bit extra for that.
      Ram U
  • The nice thing about the Dell tablets running Windows 8

    is that they can store the unsold tablets at the Microsoft warehouse out in the desert. Microsoft just destroyed last year's inventory, so there should be lots of room for the unsold Dell models for a while...
    Tony Burzio
    • Dell does have an advantage though...

      Any unsold Windows 8 based machines can be retargeted with Android or Linux distributions...
  • Times that a low resolution tablet is acceptable is passing!

    Dell and HP are behind the trend! Sad!
    • Better than before . . .

      At least they introduced two with true hi-res displays, the XPS 11 and the XPS 15. That's a big improvement! Up until the recent introduction of the new Surfaces, the only hi-res game in town for Windows was the Surface Pro (and unreleased models promised to come from Lenovo). These newly announced Dell devices are a welcome addition to the marketplace and will help Windows to compete with the numerous Android and iOS hi-res tablet competitors. I think the XPS 15 with the optional hi-res display is a pretty big deal. Heavy and too expensive, though (just like my Surface Pro). Of all the laptops I own, the one I use the most is my Nook HD+, which costs only $150, is very lightweight, has a splendid hi-res 9" display, and an SD memory slot. It runs just about everything in the Google Play store and can use a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse. Hard to beat a closeout deal like that!
  • What I need.....

    I need a tablet with the latest generation Core i7 (Quad-Core), a 1GB Video Card and 16GB+ RAM that can double as a laptop.

    And yes, I know that would be a power hog, but it could have a setting to reduce performance when being running on a battery (a setting that could be turned on or off though).

    Then that tablet could double as a laptop and desktop for me.
  • My view on this...

    A true dual-purpose machine that can actually replace a desktop computer is necessarily too large to be truly portable (or mobile, if you prefer). Smaller-size tablets like the Acer Iconia 8 and probably the Dell Venue 8 Pro are small emough to take along almost everywhere, but they lack enough I/O connectivity to be used seriously in a true work environment (where, for example, you have to connect to existing equipment via old but reliable RS-232 ports) and are treated as a disposable consumer item that you throw out when the (non-replaceable) battery no longer takes a charge. RT machines won't allow you to use any software that the maker doesn't provide (for a price) in their "store." Same problem with Android and iOS devices. I think I'll take a pass on all of them. They just don't do what I need and older laptops do.
  • Office Death

    This is an extremely difficult time for hardware manufacturers....... In the past the direction was to ever more powerful processors and ever more complex software that required them.......... it was a simple equation........ The most powerful motherboard and processor for the lowest price. The king of the absurd Swiss army knife software where the average user barely scratched the surface was an remains MS Office, and it maintained it's dominance through file compatibility. The stupid user that is incapable of using "save as"....... forcing everybody to upgrade just to read his or her simple word processing document or spreadsheet. That is fast approaching it's end............ and office, and windows itself will soon become anachronisms.......... Dell is embracing the past........not the future with these new products. About the only thing they can do at the moment, but ultimately a dead end.