Dell announces Venue 8 Pro and Venue 11 Pro Windows 8.1 tablets (hands-on)

Ever since Dell dropped the surprise announcement that it would revive its Venue brand, we've been looking forward to getting our hands on the company's new line of Windows 8.1 tablets. That time has come with today's launch of two devices: the Dell Venue 8 Pro and the Venue 11 Pro. Their arrival confirms the end of Dell's dabble with Windows RT -- and the discontinuation of its XPS 10 tablet -- heralding a new "portfolio" of mobile devices that the company believes will meet the needs of enterprise customers. Do Dell's buttoned-down tablets offer more than the competition? Join us after the break for a closer look.

With Acer and Toshiba currently holding up the sub-10-inch Windows 8 tablet category, Dell's Venue 8 Pro arrives with minimal competition. Similar to its rivals, it's an 8-inch device with a 1,280 x 800 display IPS display that supports pen input, thanks to a Synaptics digitizer. The good news is that, unlike Acer's Iconia W3, Dell has worked to ensure that the pocketable tablet maintains its color balance and pixel density at wider viewing angles and can adequately capture reduced touch inputs on its smaller screen. Underneath its sleek but uninspired chassis lies Intel's new quad-core Bay Trail chip, pushing better performance with improved battery life -- which is rated at around 10 hours -- alongside 2GB of RAM and 32GB of on-board storage.

DNP Dell Venue Pro 8 and Venue Pro 11 handson

Weighing just 400 grams and with a thickness of 8.9mm, the Venue 8 Pro feels nice in the hand. The tablet is easily the smallest Windows-powered 8-incher to date, with only Apple's super-slim iPad mini edging it out. On the rear of the device, Dell has opted for a spiraled texture for better grip, but the might not be to everyone's liking -- although it does a good job of repelling fingerprints. Taking a tour around the device, you'll find the standard apparatus: a microSD slot, a volume rocker and a Windows button on the top. All of the buttons have been positioned near the top of the device (in portrait mode) so that your fingers won't accidentally catch anything while you're using it.

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With the Venue 11 Pro, Dell has a Surface Pro 2 competitor on its hands. The company says its 10.8-inch tablet has "the power of an Ultrabook, performance of a desktop, portability of a tablet" and given the number of accessories that will complement the device (see below), it might be able to back up that claim. Like Microsoft's "lappable" tablet, the Venue 11 Pro sports a Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) IPS display and will be offered with Intel's Atom quad-core Bay Trail processors or a fourth-generation Haswell processor up to Core i5 -- supporting up to 8GB RAM, 256GB of storage, WiDi and NFC. From a design perspective, the Venue 11 Pro is unremarkable but practical, with Dell opting for a generic form factor that includes a full-size USB port, HDMI port and a microSD card slot. Unlike its smaller counterpart, the Venue 11 Pro features a matte-textured rear, which allows for a firm grip in the hand but is a magnet for greasy fingerprints. Listening to feedback from its enterprise customers, Dell will ship the Venue 11 Pro with a removable battery -- which will give around 10 hours of sustained usage -- allowing you to hot-swap if you're far from a charging point.

In order to appeal to business customers, Dell has also thrown all manner of security features at the Venue 8 Pro and Venue 11 Pro to keep data safe, much to the relief of IT departments around the world. In that respect, the company includes TPM 1.2 and its own enterprise support on both tablets, also implementing Intel's vPro hardware manageability platform inside the Venue 11 Pro.

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Dell has also included a number of docks and keyboards that extend the use of both Venue tablets, effectively turning them into Ultrabooks. The Venue 11 Pro will launch with three docks, starting with the Slim Keyboard, which is a lightweight keyboard that serves as a case for the device when it's not in use. The Mobile Keyboard, however, is a completely different proposition: the Transformer-esque dock dock not only offers an island-style layout, but includes its own integrated battery, adding up to 80 percent additional battery life on a full charge. Dell believes you'll get 16 hours of usage when the Venue 11 Pro is docked with the Mobile Keyboard, which goes far and above the battery lives of many more expensive Ultrabooks. If mobility isn't your thing, then Dell has designed a Tablet Desktop Dock to make it easier to work from you desk by making use of its dual display-out ports and USB 3.0 ports.

Dell says the Venue 11 Pro tablet will go on sale via the official Dell UK website on November 7th for $500/£349, with no fixed US launch date. The Venue 8 Pro is priced at $300 and will be available from October 18th in the US.

Jamie Rigg contributed to this report.

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Dell Introduces New Line of Tablets and Updated XPS Laptops: Create, Share and Access Content from Virtually Anywhere

· New Dell Venue Pro tablets offer the ability to connect, share and access content with ease
· XPS 11 is the world's thinnest, lightest and most compact 2-in-1 in the world with the world's first Quad HD display on an 11.6-inch 2-in-1
· XPS 15 powerhouse laptop offers the world's first 15.6-inch Quad HD+ display for jaw-dropping visuals and the ultimate experience

Bracknell, UK, 2nd October, 2013 – Dell today took a bold step in unveiling a new family of tablets and new laptops, including a 2-in-1 Ultrabook. The Dell Venue Pro line of tablets is comprised of two new ultrathin models designed to address the changing way people live and work today. Dell's "damned sexy" tablets, as described by leading Enderle Group analyst, Rob Enderle, deliver leading performance and quality, backed by Intel processing technology. With compact designs that make it easy to stay connected on the go, the Dell Venue Pro tablets have an exquisite fit and finish.

In addition to the versatile new Dell Venue Pro tablets, Dell is introducing new XPS laptops, each with breakthrough displays for a phenomenal viewing experience with vibrant, crisp images in any available screen size. The new XPS 11, the thinnest, most compact 2-in-1 in the world, also features the first Quad HD (2560 x 1440) display on an 11.6-inch 2-in-1. The XPS 15 multimedia powerhouse boasts a stunningly thin design, and offers as an option the first 15.6-inch Quad HD+ (3200 x 1800) display in the world, which is the highest resolution available on a laptop of that size. Dell is also refreshing its award-winning XPS 13 Ultrabook with faster processors, touch Full HD (1920 x 1080) display and improved battery life. With these three laptops, Dell is leading the industry with the highest resolution displays possible.

"People today expect the best experience possible from their technology – they are counting on it to keep them connected and move with them, wherever they are," said Sam Burd, vice president Dell Personal Computing Group. "The new Dell Venue tablets and XPS laptops give customers the stellar experience they expect from us, with performance that allows them to work how they want, when they want, in a design they'll be proud to show off and own."

Dell Venue Tablets: Connect, Share and Access Content With Ease
Dell Venue Pro tablets are designed to give people on-the-go a selection of sizes and options to meet their varying needs. With the 8 and 11-inch Windows-based tablets complete with keyboard and stylus options, Dell has created a dedicated brand of tablets to meet the needs of customers who are the epitome of the evolving workforce.
· The Dell Venue 8 Pro and Dell Venue 11 Pro Windows 8.1-based tablets combine the level of performance, design and responsiveness end-users love while giving IT departments what they need - the ability to integrate into an existing corporate environment with full compatibility with current Windows applications and Microsoft Office integration. Both tablets feature optional advanced security features and services such as TPM.
· The lightweight Dell Venue 8 Pro runs Windows 8.1, has a bright HD IPS display, advanced connectivity options and provides long battery life so range anxiety is no longer an issue. People can also stay productive with Office 2013 Home & Student, included with the device, and the optional Dell Active Stylus.
· The Dell Venue 11 Pro, also based on Windows 8.1, provides ultimate 2-in-1 flexibility with the power of an Ultrabook, convenience of a detachable keyboard and experience of a desktop. Unlike competitive tablets, it has a user removable/replaceable battery, and its large, Full HD display with wide viewing angles makes it easy to read and create content while staying mobile. It is also available with a variety of keyboard and stylus options:
o Dell Active Stylus makes it easy to annotate, draw or take notes.
o Dell Slim Keyboard, designed for travel, also serves as a cover for the screen when folded up.
o Dell Mobile Keyboard with integrated battery provides all day productivity with a full-sized keyboard while extending the battery life.
o Dell Tablet Desktop Dock for full productivity on a desk with USB 3.0 ports, and dual display out ports for display extension.

Both Dell Venue Pro tablets are based on Intel processing power for speed, responsiveness, and battery efficiency. The Dell Venue 8 Pro and Dell Venue 11 Pro feature the new Intel Atom quad-core Baytrail processors, code named "Bay Trail". The Venue 11 Pro offers up to 4th Generation Intel Core i3 and i5 processor options and Intel vPro for manageability.

Dell XPS Laptops and 2-in-1: The Ultimate Experience with Gorgeous Displays
Dell's award-winning XPS laptop line just got even better with the new XPS 15 powerhouse laptop, the introduction of the XPS 11 2-in-1, and an update to the flagship XPS 13 Ultrabook. In keeping with the XPS tradition of offering the best computing experience in any product category, the XPS laptops and 2-in-1 feature machined aluminium, carbon fibre, vibrant displays, and Corning Gorilla Glass NBT for performance, durability and the ultimate experience.

· Starting at 2.5lbs / 1.1kg¹ and just 11-15mm thin, the XPS 11 is the world's thinnest, lightest and most compact 2-in-1 Ultrabook available today, offering a tablet-first design with laptop functionality. It easily transitions from tablet to laptop with a 360 degree rotating hinge design, and an innovative solid surface backlit touch keyboard that provides a superb experience from lap to bag. The XPS 11 has a bright, crisp viewing experience. The display also features True Color viewing powered by eeColor, which enables customers to enjoy true, rich consistent color in nearly any lighting environment.
· The XPS 15 continues to be a multimedia powerhouse delivering the highest resolution in its class, and incredible power in an ultra-thin, light wedge design, starting at 4.44lbs / 2kg¹. Designed for creative enthusiasts, the XPS 15 packs 4th Generation Intel Core i5 and i7 quad core processor options and NVIDIA discrete graphics options. Every XPS 15 boots and resumes within seconds with hard drive configuration options from 500GB to 1TB², both with a 32GB mSATA SSD, to a 512GB solid state drive, all including Intel Rapid Start Technology³.
· The award-winning XPS 13, with its 13.3-inch, edge-to-edge display that innovatively fits into a footprint similar to an 11-inch laptop, is razor thin and light, starting at under 3lbs / 1.3kg¹. It is now even faster with 4th generation Intel Core processors, Intel HD 4400 graphics, and has longer battery life for the mobile professional who values a sleek design, responsiveness and ultimate mobility. Its Full HD display provides a brilliant viewing experience and is now even more versatile with a touch option.

"Dell appears to have its innovative mojo back," said Tim Bajarin, President of Creative Strategies. "These new products clearly emphasize Dell's commitment to create innovative mobile solutions for businesses and consumers and I believe represent some of the best products they have made in many years."

Get the Most Out of Your Technology with Dell Services
Dell customers can get the most out of their technology with Dell Services, dedicated to keeping them connected and productive, whether they're using their tablet or XPS purchase for work or home. Dell's technology experts are available around the clock. Consumers can include additional protection such as Accidental Damage Service, Premium Phone Support and Rapid Return for Repair services. Business customers can be rest assured that their devices will fit seamlessly and securely into their corporate IT environment with Dell ProSupport on the Dell Venue 8 Pro and Venue 11 Pro tablets.

Availability and Pricing
The Dell Venue 8 Pro tablet will be available from November 19th and the Dell Venue 11 Pro tablet will be available from November 7th on Pricing and availability for the XPS products will be available in the coming weeks. Starting prices for the new tablets are as follows:
· Venue 8 Pro: pricing available in the coming weeks
· Venue 11 Pro: £349 excluding VAT & freight