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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  • xthetenth - Thursday, April 16, 2015 - link

    If by soon you mean years from now sure. Right now the speed comparison has a huge gulf between Core M and everything else in that power range. I really don't get how people manage to keep making predictions this bad. It's probably because they decide before reading about what they're talking about. Reply
  • jjj - Thursday, April 16, 2015 - link

    The Denver core is odd but it's not that far behind is some situations even on 28nm.If they tune it further and goes 14nm things would get a lot better.
    AMD we have no clue where it lands, Qualcomm's new core got to be faster than A72 and A72 is pretty fast.
    Apple even with just a shrink to 14mm wouldn't be that far behind.
    So when i said soon i meant soon.
    After all Core M has big cores clocked way low, shouldn't be that hard to beat it since the core is likely outside it's optimal range.Someone that would design the core for such a TDP would have a big advantage.
    Reply
  • MrSpadge - Thursday, April 16, 2015 - link

    If you're fine with the performance and software collection those cheap ARM SoC's can offer you - fine, but then compare to Silvermont rather than Core M. Having ultra mobily performance and x86 is worth a lot to some people. Let the market decide if it's enough to warrant such a product. Reply
  • nerd1 - Friday, April 17, 2015 - link

    Still has IMMENSELY better value than apple's core M product. Reply
  • akdj - Saturday, April 18, 2015 - link

    ...? Apple's MacBook? With a phenomenal display, the fastest storage available, 256GB PCIe storage solutions and less than a Kg? Is there a hiDPI computer running Win 8(,1/10) you can point to that is achieving what Apple has with its MacBook (again, brand new, the R&D costs recovered and you've got quick price breaks with a phenomenal operating system that works seamlessly to aggregate and integrate with your mobile devices, and continuity with Handoff ...and you can run Windows!). The trackpad, the new keyboard. ARS isn't known to be an Apple fans paradise but it's a great review, phenomenal display, ultra light (he compares with a 11" MBA), fast as hell and incredible battery life. Nice to leave the Chargers and wires at home. It's a 'second' laptop solution to most and to those as a primary ownership computer, I'm sure they're not rendering Pro-Res from an HDV codec and transcoding video for 'speed'. They're checking Facebook, Twitter, email and surfing. Word processing and media enjoyment. For these tasks alone, it's prefect (& able to run 4k @ 30hZ. Not bad) as their solo computer. Makes me laugh as my wife was using the MacBook core 2 duo 2007 @ 2.16GHz/2GB/120GB spinner until two years ago. Bought the MBA for her in 2011 and it's still kicking ass and it's what SHE needs (she's a twenty two year pilot in Alaska me uses iPads and the MBA for flight planning and navigation, a test system (NextGen) with the FAA using three dimensional terrain, weather and traffic information, flight planning and diversion, real time weather and traffic, NFZs or other advisories.
    The LAST thing she wants at home is a four pound laptop or two pond tablet at home for enjoyment when she's not at work ...me, I run the business side and we concentrate on audio and visual production across the state of Alaska. Until a year ago I was dumping P2 cards off to a 15" PowerBook because of the perfect PCMICA slot, with FCP7, field edits and hacks were easily tackled. Now with less pricey proprietary transfer and encoding we've switched to rMBPs solely in the field and a pair of MacPros at the studio. I need the power to finalize but she's doing all the heavy lifting and safety with MUCH less power but significantly better battery life than the tools I use. I've every intention of buying one when they hit for her. It's a helluva laptop
    Reply
  • khanikun - Wednesday, April 22, 2015 - link

    Fastest storage available? You do know that most companies just put some random SSD into their tablets, laptops, etc. Usually some cheap value brand to save on costs. Hardly the fastest available storage. If it was, aftermarket SSD companies wouldn't be making bookoo dollars.

    As for comparison, really. Have you not even seen a Surface Pro 3? The thing spanks the Macbook in performance, all while being a year older. Now there are pros and cons for both, where a user's usage will dictate which is the better purchase for their needs.

    The Surface Pro 3 is both thicker and thinner than the Macbook. It's also lighter and heavier than the Macbook. Depends on whether you add in the keyboard.

    SP3 is MB share the same battery life, but expect the MB to loose if you bootcamp, cause you know the thing's battery life goes a bit down the drain when it tries to run Windows.

    PPI screens are comparable, with the MB a little better. At the same time, the SP3 is a touchscreen and has an awesome stylus.

    Performance, SP3 wins that easily, but it also costs more, if you configure it to have the same storage option as the MB.

    MB has a port. SP3 has multiple ports for expanding. Including the microSD slot to add more storage.

    MB has the better keyboard. Not much contest with the SP3's type cover.

    If you're looking for more downright power in a very portable package, the SP3 is the better bet over the MB.
    Reply
  • nathanddrews - Thursday, April 16, 2015 - link

    Great looking tablet.

    Sorry if I missed it, but what sort of external display support exists (in general, but specifically when using the dock)? 4K at 30Hz or 60Hz?

    Seeing as how I just bought a USB 3.0 to GbE adapter for $10 for my tablet last month, the 10/100 does seem like a shortcoming.
    Reply
  • rfunaki - Friday, April 17, 2015 - link

    I have a couple of the previous models of this tablet, and use them with the dock and external monitors. I can't spear for 4k, but one of them is outputting to a 2560x1440p monitor, but when using the dock, this limits the overall max output on a 2nd external monitor. To be able to output anything higher than 1080p while also outputting 1440p, I have to connect the 2nd external display to the tablet itself (not the dock). So just an assumption based on this, I would imagine if you output to a 4k external monitor, you may not have the flexibility to also output to a 2nd external monitor, if that's something you were interested in.

    Also, good review, but just a note that they released a new backwards-compatible dock for this new model that has gigabit Ethernet. I wonder if the new dock also resolves the display output limitations.
    Reply
  • rfunaki - Friday, April 17, 2015 - link

    I have a couple of the previous models of this tablet, and use them with the dock and external monitors. I can't spear for 4k, but one of them is outputting to a 2560x1440p monitor, but when using the dock, this limits the overall max output on a 2nd external monitor. To be able to output anything higher than 1080p while also outputting 1440p, I have to connect the 2nd external display to the tablet itself (not the dock). So just an assumption based on this, I would imagine if you output to a 4k external monitor, you may not have the flexibility to also output to a 2nd external monitor, if that's something you were interested in.

    Also, good review, but just a note that they released a new backwards-compatible dock for this new model that has gigabit Ethernet. I wonder if the new dock also resolves the display output limitations.
    Reply
  • lilmoe - Thursday, April 16, 2015 - link

    My God, after all these years, and at that price you'd think that Intel would get the GPU right, especially when you look at the comparative size in the die shot... It gets me frustrated every time I see benchmarks for Core M. What a crappy value proposition.

    Intel needs to either use Imagination's best offerings and work really hard on good drivers (instead of the crappy previous attempts), or make their best offer and buy NVidia already.

    Rumor has it that Samsung is currently making a bid to *buy* AMD. Since Samsung has their own fabs and LOTS of cash to spare on R&D where AMD is currently coming short, it would mean huge trouble for Intel in the not so far future. Buying NVidia would totally make sense if they want to stay competitive.
    Reply

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