Dell has resurrected the Venue name for its new range of Windows 8 tablets, running Intel Bay Trail processors. We get hands-on with the 8in model.
Microsoft has so far failed to impress with Windows 8 tablets, with the Surface RT offering long battery life but unable to run the apps you want (such as Photoshop). The Surface Pro could run whatever you wanted, but had poor battery life.
With Intel’s new Atom Z3000 processor, codenamed Bay Trail, Dell and other manufacturers are set to launch ultra-desirable tablets which will provide both the performance and battery life to make a Windows 8 device a viable alternative to tables such as the iPad.
At IDF in San Francisco, we got our hands on the first of Dell’s brand new Venue tablets, which will be officially launched on 2nd October in New York.
Weighing less than 400g, the Venue is comfortable to hold in one hand, and its soft-feel plastic back is much like the new Nexus 7’s. It’s certainly the first Windows 8 tablet we’d say was desirable on a level with the new Nexus 7 or Apple’s iPad mini.
It betters the iPad thanks to a full HD, 1920x1080-pixel screen, although the Nexus 7 equals that resolution on its smaller 7in screen.
The Venue had a single speaker on one edge, a headphone socket, microUSB connector for sync and charging, along with a volume rocker and power button. A rubber cover marked ‘SD’ apparently hid a special docking port – the details of which would be revealed along with pricing and the full specification on October 2nd.
Surprisingly, the Windows 8 modern UI was easy to use on the small screen, although we didn’t get to try out the traditional desktop. The IPS screen was bright and with the expected wide viewing angles.
And thanks to the use of Intel’s new Atom Z3000 processor, codenamed Bay Trail, the Venue should have the performance to make it actually useful and battery life to avoid having to carry the charger around with you.
Turning the tablet on from standby was instant, just as you’d expect from a modern tablet, but don’t forget this is the full version of Windows 8 – not RT.
Few other details were offered, but we're certain there will be a wireless keyboard option and both red and black rear colours to choose between.
Bay Trail: performance
We were shown a demo of a Windows 8 video editing app (running on an Intel reference tablet) which rendered a short video in next to no time. That’s thanks to the fact that the Z3000 series has Intel Quick Sync which accelerates video transcoding.
Graphics performance also appeared stellar, with a demo of the new Asphalt 8 racing game showing that the Atom processor can handle pretty demanding 3D games. Intel says the GPU is the same as found in its Sandy Bridge processors.
Dell wouldn’t reveal exactly which Bay Trail chip was inside the Venue tablet, but we were told it was one of the quad-core models.