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Dell Venue 11 Pro: Tablet plus accessories makes three good devices

Michelle Mastin | March 10, 2014
Dell's Venue 11 Pro is the first Atom-powered computer that I can picture as a replacement for my current laptop. With its two optional accessories, this 10.8-inch tablet can transform into either a small notebook or a diminutive all-in-one PC. The two-day battery life--with the optional keyboard dock--is amazing. But I do wish it had more memory and storage.

The keyboard has its own battery, which drains first. I managed to watch several hours of videos, play a few hours of games, and surf for several more, draining only the keyboard's battery. I worked the whole next day off the tablet's battery without plugging it in overnight. The keyboard is comfortable, too, which makes the combo a pretty good laptop.

Things aren't perfect, though. The pair is heavier than many 13-inch laptops: The keyboard weighs 28 ounces, which puts the total carry weight at 3.31 pounds (not including the power adapter). And the dock provides very little play to tilt the tablet backward, which can be problematic if you're using the system in your lap. The keyboard's trackpad, while small, is adequate. And you can always just reach up and touch the screen.

The tablet sits at a fixed angle in Dell's Tablet Dock, and that worked well enough for me. This $140 accessory provides three USB 3.0 ports (two in the back, one in front), both HDMI and DisplayPort connectors for attaching a second (or third) display), 10/100 ethernet, and analog audio and video connectors. The dock charges the tablet when the two are paired, freeing up the tablet's power adapter to charge the keyboard. Alternatively, you can charge both the keyboard and the tablet while the two are paired, but this takes a really long time.

Dell's Venue 11 Pro ups the ante in the hybrid arena, thanks to is versatile accessories. The hardware isn't strong enough for hardcore games or producing the next great animated short, but its three combinations were more than adequate for my entertainment and routine computing needs.

Editor's note: Dell offers two higher-priced models that we did not review: One has an Intel Core i3-4020Y processor, 4GB of memory, and a 128GB SSD. It's priced at $800. The other has an Intel Core i5-4210Y processor, 4GB of memory, and 128GB of storage that goes for $850.


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