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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  • thunng8 - Friday, April 17, 2015 - link

    A8X in the iPad Air 2 does ~1820 in single threaded geekbench Reply
  • TrackSmart - Thursday, April 16, 2015 - link

    This seems like an overly strong statement ("horrible!" -- for the price).

    Core M is a low-power platform. For standard office productivity tasks, it provides similar performance to 15 watt ultrabook processors, but only uses 4.5 watts of power. That's pretty impressive. I don't see where the "horrible" part comes into play. These are meant to be ultramobile parts. The laws of physics dictate that there will be some tradeoff between power consumption and performance when you are constrained by thermal limits and battery capacity.

    -If you don't like Core M, choose a product built around a higher TDP platform and move to the other side of the curve (higher power consumption, but also consistently higher performance in continuous workloads).
    -If you want a snappy system for standard office productivity tasks in the most mobile form-factor possible, choose a Core M product, and enjoy similar performance to 15 watt parts for "burst" oriented workloads, but in a thinner, lighter, longer-lasting form factor.
    -If you want a cheaper price point, choose a slower product built around an Atom processor, which will offer a similar form factor but lower performance.
    -And if you can live without Windows, sure, buy an ARM-based tablet.

    ** It's fantastic that we have these choices today. ** If your problem is the price of Core M, well, unfortunately we are talking about full-on Core architecture processors. Without greater competition, Intel isn't going to give these processors away at Atom prices. And especially not at ARM prices.

    As for this particular product, I agree it does't look very "premium" to me, either, that has nothing to do with the Core M processor inside. I'm personally impressed with what Asus did with the UX305 for $699 and a Core M processor. Solid ultra-portable performance in a very thin chassis with long battery life.

    Didn't mean to jump on you here. Just sort of surprised that anyone would call Core M itself horrible. Many people have been waiting for this kind of performance in such a low TDP x86 processor.
    Reply
  • Qwertilot - Thursday, April 16, 2015 - link

    Apple have the resources that they presumably could (more or less) match the CPU single core of this, but I don't think putting so much single core performance into a tablet chip is what you'd chose to do if designing specifically for tablets.

    Especially with Apple being very keen on having lots and lots of graphics firepower to hand.

    CoreM's design makes much more sense if you're going for fanless notebooks, at times with the cooling systems around to run it at somewhat higher power than you'd want for a tablet etc.
    Reply
  • Marc GP - Thursday, April 16, 2015 - link

    Sorry, but no. Core M doesn't gives you the performance of a 15w ultrabook using only 4.5watts.

    Because it can only give you that for short bursts before seriously throttling and having to lower its clock from 2,8Ghz (turbo) to its nominal 1Ghz frequency, the only one they can keep for large periods.

    Don't try anything that needs steady performance on a Core M, like gaming, for example.
    Reply
  • TrackSmart - Thursday, April 16, 2015 - link

    I don't mean to be rude, but I don't think you read my post or the article itself very carefully. My post says that for typical office productivity tasks, which are burst-oriented, you get similar performance. I also say that if you want sustained higher performance, you need to move to a higher TDP. The article says similar things and shows benchmarks to demonstrate this. So what exactly are you arguing that I didn't say myself?

    My Post:
    "For standard office productivity tasks, it provides similar performance to 15 watt ultrabook processors, but only uses 4.5 watts of power. ...choose a Core M product, and enjoy similar performance to 15 watt parts for "burst" oriented workloads, but in a thinner, lighter, longer-lasting form factor."

    Article: In the PCMark 8 section, which simulates office productivity tasks -- "In these types of workloads, Core M can outperform [15 watt TDP] Haswell-U series parts from the Ultrabooks of last year, which is fairly impressive in a passively cooled device."

    To "jjj", you still haven't provided a sensible argument. I'd love it if Intel sold these chips for $50, but it isn't going to happen. You'd have to be living on another planet to think otherwise. Until someone else offers similar x86 CPU performance in a comparable power envelope, these products are going to command prices that are similar to Intel's other Core series processors.
    Reply
  • jjj - Thursday, April 16, 2015 - link

    It's the worst chip in history!! lol
    Let me explain why and remember i said horrible for the price.
    Die is about 80mm2 so similar to the Exynos 7420 and 50% smaller than a Snapdragon801. Sure it comes on a module so that adds to costs a bit but Intel launched it at some 280$. Even if an OEM would pay 3 times less ,the chip would still cost way way too much. Mobile chips that size sell for 15-30$ depending on how new they are (start at 30 and keep dropping during their lifetime), IHS just a couple of days ago estimated that the Exynos 7420 costs 29.5$ ( to buy not to make).
    So Intel here is just abusing it's x86 monopoly and charging absurd prices for the chip. That's why we don't see tabs like this one at 300$ and why the chip is horrible. If it was below 50$ it would be fine but it's a hell of a lot more.

    PS: you can check die size and price in one of the early articles on Core M here on AT.
    Reply
  • jjj - Thursday, April 16, 2015 - link

    Correction- Meant to say that SD801 is 50% bigger or Core M is 33% smaller than SD801 and ended up with something else. Reply
  • smilingcrow - Thursday, April 16, 2015 - link

    Translation. It's a great chip but I can't afford it and I'm so very very angry. Reply
  • jjj - Thursday, April 16, 2015 - link

    Not even a trace of anger ,i know Intel's ways too well for it's behavior to impress me and i can afford it but i'm not that stupid to buy it (not that i need it to begin with).
    Anyway , thanks for your valuable contribution to the conversation , it was a true delight.
    Reply
  • akdj - Saturday, April 18, 2015 - link

    Excellent words 'crow. I'm thinking jjj doesn't understand X86, ARM, and bigLittle architecture NOR how a mobile processor is 'of benefit' to MOST people in today's world. They're as fast as the core i5 power in SB, close to IB and even with thermal limitations, it smokes the Intel iGPU 4000. I'm ambidextrous, using OS X and Windows Android and iOS. To exclaim 'the worst chip in history' considering where Intel was just 18 months ago VERY WELL be the MOST ignorant statement I've seen on Anand's site in some time. Regardless of price (remember, R&D must be recouped to bring the archtiecture's price down), and the magic Apple's done with 64 bit processing over the past two years, it's Qualcomm that's been blindsided. Samsung has switched to their chips, has the A9 contract and have settled disputes everywhere but America. The power of samsung and Apple's engineering prowess and chip trickery (A8x and A8, second and 2.5 gen 64bit chips are nearing a year old, as they start production early summer on the fall iOS releases), it's Intel and Apple/Samsung and TSMC. What the A8/A8x did for the iPad Air 2 is. Itching short of incredible and as an owner for almost nine months, I'm confident there are very few folks in this world that need 'more power' than iPad Air2, Nexus 9, or this Dell reviewed. Most of us that 'work' with a company supplied computer don't really feel like desktops when we get home. Don't have time with the kids and it's easy to throw in the truck and forget about the charger! Laptops are a PITA in comparison and not 'really' that much more capable ESPECIALLY if you use the tools built for and sold I the App Store. Every app of the million plus are optimized at this time for the A5/6 families of SoCs. That's the missing point here. With this Dell, the entire world of software 'Windows built' is now available to you with significantly faster storage and a mature 64bit process from a company that's led the way in silicon for thirty years. And they, like Apple, have the paper to test, retest and 'make it work'. Tegra. Tegra 3, 4 and now these ULV procs taking it to an entirely different level of performance
    With the iGPU it's a matter of efficient cooling in fabless designs to slow down the throttling. That's going to come as they continue the more efficient designs with Skylake and the future.
    Just plain ignorance. So sad with all these power packed choices we've got now, their time is limited. Not enough room for a half dozen silicon manufacturers. 2, maybe three will win out and my bets on ARM, Intel and possibly Sammys Exnyos
    Reply

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