New Dell Venue 11 Pro Bay Trail Tablet is Too Heavy

Dec 15, 2013

Continuing with my coverage of 10-11 inch Windows tablets, a quick look at the Dell Venue 11 Pro. I mentioned this tablet first in this post, and it looks like the Bay Trail version of it just started shipping. The Haswell version has been shipping a bit longer. You’ll see below that I think neither looks like a great choice.

Why My Obsession

As an aside, in case anyone is wondering why I am obsessing on lightweight 10-11 inch Windows tablets, it’s because by far most of my readers and clients are folks who use my MYN system on Windows Outlook. If you want to do that on a true tablet (iPad-sized tablets are all the rage these days), then in my mind a lightweight 10-11 inch Windows tablet is the only way to go. Any smaller and Outlook is unusable. Any larger and the unit will be too heavy to be a true tablet.

A Line of Tablets

Anyway, the Dell Venue 11 Pro is an interesting tablet. Actually, it’s a line of tablets, some with Bay Trail, some with Haswell. In other words, some compete with Surface 2 and some compete with Surface 2 Pro. The idea is that you spec the processor and storage yourself on the Dell site per your needs. Given the extra requirements of Haswell (normally a laptop chip), you’d think that would lead to a huge difference in size and weight across the line, but not really. The Venue 11 Bay Trail model is 0.4-inches thick and 1.68 pounds and the Haswell model is 0.48 inches thick and 1.75 pounds. So pretty similar.

Bay Trail Version On Heavy Side

Unfortunately, that means the Bay Trail version is quite a bit heavier than comparable tablets. It’s almost half a pound heavier than the Asus Transformer Pad T100 (or the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2, though that is not yet out with Bay Trail). And an extra half pound is a big deal if you are shooting for a lightweight tablet. So this tablet with Bay Trail not my recommendation.

Read more about the Bay Trail version of this Dell here.

Surface 2 Pro Competitor?

On the other hand, if you are looking for a Surface 2 Pro competitor, the Haswell version of the Dell could be a contender since it’s smaller and lighter: the Surface Pro 2 is 0.53 inches thick and 2 pounds, so it’s quit a bit bigger. And the Dell is better priced.

Unfortunately, Dell chose a cheap pen digitizer, and various online tablet forums are full of reports saying the pen is unusable for note taking–it’s too inaccurate. Some say perhaps it’s just a driver problem or a pen-hardware problem and so are hoping maybe it will be fixed. We’ll see. Assuming not, that tells me that if you are looking for a Surface 2 Pro competitor, and want a good pen (why settle for a bad one?), the Sony VAIO Tap 11 might be a better choice. It’s similar in price, specs, and size to the Haswell version of the Dell Venue 11 Pro, but reportedly has a good pen.

Conclusion: neither version fits the bill

That means neither the Bay Trail nor Haswell version of the Dell Venue 11 Pro tablets are on my tablet buying list right now. If they fix the pen, that might change. And there reportedly are so many Bay Trail Windows tablets about to come out, the whole game is still in flux and perhaps worth waiting on. If you can’t wait, and don’t need a good pen, my recommendation for now is to get the Asus Transformer T100. It’s fast and cheap and you could sell it on eBay later when your dream tablet finally comes out.

Michael Linenberger

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10 Responses to New Dell Venue 11 Pro Bay Trail Tablet is Too Heavy

  1. If this one is too heavy, Michael what is the best tablet at this point to invest in? What’s better then the iPad for a complete productivity solution?

    • Michael Linenberger says:

      Hey Jason. If you can live without a pen, I’d get the Asus Transformer Pad T100. Nice machine and very good price. If you need a pen, wait till Lenovo updates the ThinkPad Tablet 2. Michael

      • You think the Lenovo Thinkpad 2 is going to be the one to get? The Asus Transformer looks amazing — thanks Michael for your feedback it means a lot. I have been sending alot of friends to your blog about this. Do you think the WIndow 8.1 is the Game Changer to put Windows Mobile phones and devices back on top?

        • Michael Linenberger says:

          Jason, no, the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet *3*, or whatever they call it will be the one to get, if you need a good pen. The ThinkPad Tablet *2* has the old Atom processor. Nice machine, I’ve used it for a year, but slow compared to the new Bay Trail. Just waiting for Lenovo to finally do the update. Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone? There is some talk of merging the platforms, and yes, I think they need to do that. Best, Michael

  2. theOne says:

    Your seriously just downgraded this great tablet because you didn’t like the $30 pen that you buy as an extra accessory??? A bit picky aren’t we?

    It’s Windows 8.1… Go out and find ANY aftermarket smart digitizing pen and load the driver on the tablet. With 8.1 you have that luxury.

    • Michael Linenberger says:

      theOne: thanks for your comment, but sorry, the comment is incorrect: Win 8.1 OS has nothing to do with what pen you can use and you usually -cannot- add or mix and match pens. And installing a driver has nothing to do with enabling that. Here’s a little background: There are 3 types of Win 8/8.1 computers out there regarding pen use. #1) are those with no touch screen, and so no pen will work on those even if it is Win 8.1. #2) are those with only a capacitive touch screen (most Win 8/8.1 computers), and fat-tip pens will work there (like the ones on the iPad). But those are not very good for notetaking for lots of reasons (see my other article in my blog for the reasons). Then #3) there are the active digitizer computers and pens which is what the Dell above is. Active digitizers are relatively rare right now on Windows tablets because they require a special screen (and pen) and both are more expensive, but it’s the only way to go if you are serious about taking notes on a your tablet. Unfortunately, the Dell Venue 8 and 11 computers ship with a Synaptics digitizer (few pens work with that by the way), and it was reportedly pretty horrible on release. There is a YouTube video of a Dell Venue 8 showing the line jumping all over the screen as someone is taking notes. Lots of other reports of it being unusable. That said, some recent firmware updates from Dell apparently improved it a lot, but reportedly it’s still not as good as a Wacom digitizer (used in Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2 and the Surface Pro ), or N-Trig digitizer (used in the Sony). So the point is, if you care about having good notetaking capability, the Dell Venue line is probably not the tablet to get. And you cannot just “get any pen and install a driver” (where did you get that idea???). But, hey, if you don’t care about good notetaking, (and don’t care about the extra half pound of weight compared to the Asus T100), the Dell Venue 11 may be the way to go for you. Michael

  3. Here is the other problem. My experience with Dell tablets have been hugely bad. Dell long term repair and experience has been questionable at best. I went through 6 computers in a year each of different model real bad. Best experience has always been with Lenovo – far superior to Dell, especially customer support. I am looking forward to this review. Thanks Michael I had no idea about the distinction between these types of tablet screens. But the iPAD really stinks for handwriting recognition.

  4. Tech-ED says:

    Here is what I found. I like the Dell Venue 11 but because it has a Dell Wireless card it will not support WiDi. It is Miracast capable thought. On the other hand the Asus T100ta support WiDi. The Dell has a wider screen, higher resolution and it is brighter than the Asus. So for usage under the sun and for nice crisp HD videos the Dell is a better choice.

    Venue 11 Pro

    – Windows 8.1 w/ Office 2013 Student Edition
    – Intel® Atom™ processor Z3770 2.4GHz Quad-Core (Baytrail)
    – 10.8 inch IPS Display with FHD (1920 x 1080) resolution with 10-pt capacitive touch
    – 2GB LPDDR3 1066 MHz
    – 64GB SSD
    – Intel Gen7 Graphics (Miracast Capable)
    – Dell Wireless 1538 Dual-Band 2×2 802.11n WiFi (2 and 5 Ghz)
    – Bluetooth® 4.0
    – Integrated 2MP HD Webcam (front)/8MP (black)
    – 1 USB3.0
    – Headphone and microphone combo jack,
    – mini HDMI
    – Near Field Communication (NFC)
    – Micro SD card reader (SD/SDHC/SDXC)
    – Weight = 1.57 lbs
    – 10hr battery (Replacable)
    – Keyboard dock NOT INCLUDED

    Asus T100

    – Windows 8.1 w/ Office 2013 Student Edition
    – Intel® Atom™ processor Z3740 1.33 GHz Quad-Core (Baytrail)
    – 10.1 inch IPS Display (1366 x 768) resolution with 5-pt capacitive touch
    – 2GB LPDDR3 1066 MHz
    – 64GB eMMC
    – Intel Gen7 Graphics 4EU (WiDi and Miracast Capable)
    – Intel Widi 802.11gbn (2 and 5 Ghz)
    – Bluetooth® 4.0
    – Integrated 1.2MP HD Webcam (front only)
    – 1 USB3.0 when connected to dock
    – micro USB 2.0
    – Headphone and microphone combo jack,
    – mini HDMI
    – Weight = 1.2 lbs
    – 11hr Battery
    – Keyboard dock INCLUDED

    • Andrei says:

      The bay trail z3740 is 1.33ghz but it can go up to 1.8 ghz with turbo boost.
      The z3770 is 1.46 ghz but it can go up to 2.4ghz with turbo boost.
      Let’s compare turbo boost or normal clock speed on both tablets. Don’t mix them.

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