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REVIEW: Dell Venue 8 Pro

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The tablet market is stronger than ever, with a 68% increase in tablet and hybrid device sales over the 2013 period.

Although Apple still remains in the top spot, there are plenty of alternatives to the ever popular iPad, including the Dell Venue 8 Pro tablet.

This 8 inch tablet, running Windows 8.1, comes with a full Microsoft Office suite of applications and is an easy to use platform upon which to experience windows 8.

In this video, we give an overview of the device and its specs:



The size of the tablet is small enough that it comfortably fits in one hand, with an appealing rubber-like texture on the back which makes it easy to grip. It also is very light at just under 400g, as well as its small size making it easily portable for working on-the-go such as on the tube or at home.

The usual Windows button, which would normally be located on the front of a Windows tablet, is a physical button at the side of the device, which impeded use a little, and I found it easier to use the swipe-menu feature to navigate instead.

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We had particular trouble using the on-screen keyboard, but there are a number of different accessories available to make this tablet easier to use when out and about, including a wireless keyboard, stylus and a tablet cover that doubles up as a stand, but it will cost you extra.

The display, which is HD 800p, is vibrantly coloured and good for watching videos or looking at documents and presentations, and with the full Office suite available all of your work is at your fingertips.

Although the battery life lasts all day when in use, it seemed to run down just as quickly when on standby, and I would have expected it to last longer.

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The processor is quite powerful considering the tablet's size, with an Intel Atom Z3740D Processor, so the apps load quickly. The dual-band Wi-Fi also ensures that web pages load quickly, although it can only be used where there are Wi-Fi hotspots or a reliable connection as the device has no SIM capabilities.

The tablet also features wireless display technology, allowing videos, photos or presentations to be streamed from your tablet to the nearest compatible TV using a Miracast secure direct connection.

Specs at a glance:

Dell Venue 8 Pro

    • Display: 8 inch HD 800p
    • OS: Windows 8.1
    • Camera: Front 1.2 MP, Rear 5 MP
    • Hard Drive: 32GB/64GB eMMC Hard Drive
    • Memory: 2GB Single Channel DDR3L-RS 1600MHz
    • Processor:  Intel  Atom Processor Z3740D (2MB Cache, up to 1.8GHz Quad-Core)

As far as small affordable tablets go, this is definitely one of the best for getting work done on a commute. The review unit was supplied to us by Ebuyer, where you can currently buy the Dell Venue Tablet Pro for £239.99.

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New PCs enter the market at Computex

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Dell, Acer and Asus have all unveiled various PC models at Computex in Taiwan this week. In a midst of a PC market crash, the computer manufacturers have taken a leap of faith and revealed new designs the safety net being of course the hybrid tablet devices.

Dell

Dell announced its XPS 11 model, a 2-in-1 convertible Ultrabook. This hybrid device has a 360 degreed rotation design in order to hide away the keyboard and flip into a tablet device. At 14.9mm and 2.5 pounds this product could be utilised within an BYOD environment, which has seen many of these types of devices in recent months.

Additionally, Dell launched an OptiPlex 9020 and All-in-One machine. This commercial desktop will be available in four different form factors, an all-in-one computer, as well as three different sized towers, all powered by Intel Core i7 processors.

Dell also launched a 4th-gen Intel business laptop, including swappable batteries. The Latitude E6540 will feature comprehensive file-level encryption, advanced authentication and malware protection.

The XPS 12, OptiPlex 9020 desktop, and Latitude E6540 will be available in the coming weeks.

Additionally, the computer manufacturer added two printers to its portfolio of peripherals. The B1165nfw and B1265dfw claim to provide affordable printing options, wireless networking capabilities and document management software. The two printers will have the ability to print, scan, copy and fax within the single device.

Acer

Acer announced its new Iconia tablet, the Iconia W3, which claims to be the first 8.1-inch tablet running Windows 8. The company believes that this is the "optimum size for productivity and entertainment, while comfortable enough to sit in one hand". It will be available pre-installed with Microsoft Office Home & Student 2013.

The company also launched a "phablet" device - the 5.7-inch 1280x720 screen Liquid S1. It offers an option to insert two SIM cards, and runs Android Jelly Bean and a 1.5 GHz processor. Additionally, it has a few functionalities to boost productivity: The Acer Float User Interface, which allows several apps to stay open at the same time so users can multitask; the Auto Profile which supports predefined network settings, which will adjust settings such as brightness, volume and connectivity as users visit frequent locations.

Acer also launched its flagship ultrabook, the 13.3-inch Aspire S7. The ultrabook boosts a longer-lasting battery for "all day computing" as well as a updated cooling fan which makes less noise. It also offers wireless display technology for sharing on a big screen wirelessly. Like its previous model, it will include a 10-point WQHD display with 2,560 x 1,440 resolution taking full advantage of the touch capabilities of Windows 8.

Asus

Probably, most interesting from all the launches at Computex, was the Transformer Book Trio from Asus. This 11.6-inch clamshell tablet with a detachable display, consists of two operating systems. It can switch between Windows 8 notebook, Android tablet and Windows 8 desktop PC.

The Transformer series has been a success of Asus in the consumer space in recent years, the ability to switch between app stores, synch data and apparently "continue to surf a webpage when moving from notebook to tablet, could be a game changer for the device in the business space also.

The PC station dock has its own 4th generation Intel® Core™ i7 processor, keyboard and 750GB hard drive and it can also be hooked up to a monitor to be used as a desktop PC. Additionally the screen can be removed from the station dock to be used on the go as a tablet with a 2.0 GHz Intel processor , 64GB and full HD display- taking the meaning of "hybrid" one step further.

Intel

Intel also had a presence at Computex, revealing a 22nm low-power, Atom system on a chip design, which it claimed would offer faster graphics and twice the CPU performance of the current generation. According to Intel, the new chip would power Android and Windows 8.1 devices for up to eight hours.

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Dell's Latitude 10 tablet has serious offerings for businesses

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A tablet for the business environment is the holy grail for hardware manufacturers at the moment. Trying to provide a sturdy piece of hardware, with performance specs which can include security features to satisfy IT departments, while still be sexy enough to throw around the boardroom, at a price point that can reflect kitting out an entire workforce? That's a tall order that I can't list outloud in one breath.... and therefore usually something has to give.

A third-party study conducted by Principled Technologies found that the Latitude 10 tablets are up to 17 times faster and 94%less expensive to deploy than iPads in large scale enterprise implementations. It seems that Dell is taking Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) seriously, but is it at the expense of key specs?

Overall I feel that the Latitude 10 almost passes the tests. Light enough to carry around at a mere 725g; the 10.1-inch screen gleams at me through its Gorilla Glass protection, while its capacitive 10 finger touch is nice and sensitive. The device is held within a robust rubber frame. Usually, plastic-like casings don't do it for me, but this remained smooth and sultry, proving that durability can sometimes come along without sacrificing on style. The tablet is sleek and lightweight, meaning I was more than happy to be using it on a day-to-day basis.

Found it much easier to operate while using a sturdy stylus than my finger. Then I remembered that the device came with its own pen and the game changed. The pen has very smooth doodling capabilities, however you still have to revert back to your finger when scrolling through pages as the pen is too specific. I'm still amazed by devices where you can rest your whole hand on the screen and write, as if you were naturally writing on a piece of paper, and this doesn't fail to impress me.

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The device runs Windows Pro and I found it very responsive. The joy of Windows 8 is the tablet experience, which is where it shines, making scrolling through news articles and apps so seamless and attractive.

The device houses an Intel Atom (SoC) chip, while including 2GB of internal memory and a storage option of up to 128GB. When it comes to a business computer, it wouldn't quite hit the mark for many businesses thanks to these specs. And it doesn't seem to be  pushing the boundaries of performance on Windows,  but will run office productivity tools. 

Docking system

At the end of the day, you are working with a screen of10.1-inches. Any bigger and you'd be complaining it wouldn't be portable enough, but 10.1-inches is painfully small to work with at a desk office environment. This is where the docking system comes into its own. The docking system allows the device to convert into a PC for the office; being able to attach keyboards, and a monitor if you so wish via the dock's own connectivity.

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When you pop the tablet onto the dock, it has to be pushed down very hard to make its connection, this isn't a problem, but just ruins the illusion of a seamless experience a little bit for me, however it does make a chirpy noise and a little light illuminates to tell you when it is connected.

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If you do wish to use the device without a monitor, using the touch element becomes very tiresome for your elbows and back as you lean across your desk in an unnatural fashion to touch the screen. However, the dock does provide four USB ports so you can easily attach both a keyboard and mouse in order to continuing working as normal in your office environment. 

Added extras

The tablet has the option to replace the battery, which itself is so slim and lightweight, I wouldn't begrudge carrying around a spare with me on a long business trip. Dell gives you the option to choose from 2-cell (30 WHr) or 4-cell (60 WHr) Lithium Ion swappable batteries.

The device also has great connectivity. Out of ports and slots, it has a full USB 2.0, and SD card reader. As well as a headphone jack, micro-USB charging port and a mini-HDMI port. It has an option for a micro SIM for mobile broadband as well as WiFi and Bluetooth.

Enhanced Security

The device comes with Intel Platform Trust Technology, an optional fingerprint reader or smart card reader, as well a optional Dell Data Protection Encryption (DDPE).

During a meeting last month about the Dells new encryption solution (DDPE), Neil Hand, Dell global vice president, personal computing product group told me that due to the ubiquitous nature of data, security problems are rife in the data protection space. A lost laptop can cost tens of thousands of dollars, rather than just a couple of hundred to replace the device, due to the data security laws that are in place.

"And cloud makes the issue even more problematic," he said. "It's only going to get worse, not better. We need to encrypt and lock down the data."

Dell launch of a key management solution: Dell Data Protection Encryption (DDPE), works in the cloud. Prices will range dependent on a fleet and licensing models.

Pricing and availability

The Latitude 10 essentials 64GB configuration is available starting at £430. The Latitude 10 essentials 32GB configuration is available for £391- this is where the tablet hits the sweet spot, why would you buy Windows RT or Android tablets, when you can run Windows Pro at a very reasonable price? Additionally, at a price point this low, you don't feel short changed when you still have to use your desktop computer when you are sat at your desk.

Fully fledge high performance computer replacement it is not, top of the range tablet device which you can use part-time as a desktop it is. 

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Four years in the making: The best of the best.

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karate-kid2.jpgHaving created this blog and nurtured it for the past four years, I've decided to put the best blog posts/videos from the best on one page.

Diary of an outcast: Apple's Special iPad 2 Event
I will start with my favourite post, the infamous Apple event. I had been invited to Apple events before but somehow started getting missed off the list. I hate Apple so it was no surprise that they didn't want me there. Safe to say that after this post not only was I missed off the list but Computer Weekly never received an invite from Apple ever again.

iPhone Vs N97
This was the first big video project that me and David (video editor) put together. At the time I was so happy that I'd got the N97 I decided to make a video pitting it against the iPhone while mocking Apple's advertising campaign. Little did I know that the N97 would prove to be the worst purchase I've ever made in my life.




HTC Desire HD Review
David (who stars in this video) and I wanted to do something different and create a cool video review. This is what we came up with.

Sadly once we started recording David (and the department he worked for) were made redundant. It didn't effect the video but it wasn't a happy time for us. Having cleared out his desk he set up at home the next day to finish it. This was our last hurrah and the last video I made. Very proud of it.




What is the best mobile OS around?
At this point, no one wanted to be in any of my videos. The company was starting to cut back on them and so I tried to play four roles with four outfits and a moustache before I got told that what I was doing wasn't a productive use of my time. Honestly, how could they say that?

This video used to have a voting element that has since been removed because we couldn't afford to pay for the server the flash sat on.

The most ambitious video we ever tried.





Video: The future of business cards, I'm not taking the Poken
There was a girl I was desperate to go out with at my work. I needed to do a video to have a reason to talk to her but the only thing I'd been sent was a Poken. No phones or cool gadgets. Somehow I persuaded her to help me make this video. We're still together :)




Video review of the wiimote like Gyration Air Mouse
This video is pretty much when I realised that I can be funny. What people don't realise is that filming didn't take long but discussions between David and I on what was funny took forever.

He would stand there saying "That's not funny" every time I cracked a joke or did something stupid. Or one of my favourite lines of his was "You might think that's funny, but it isn't".




Video: Palm Pre vs the iPhone - The big debate
I had 2 weeks before Christmas to do a video armed with my wit and a white wig that was left over from a very bad 'Back to the future' spoof I'd made where I played the Doc. That video was so bad that the company we producd it for sent us a letter saying that if the video ever saw the light of day, they'd sue my a** off. 

David went on holiday with a week left of editing/filming to do so I didn't have anyone to tell me that what I was saying wasn't funny and some of the editing is a bit off. It's still a good video but we felt it was rushed.




Video: I heart iPad - Dating website matches man to iPad
What do you do when you get your hands on an iPad before the UK release? Write a review. Then what? Make a video about having a special relationship with it. Yep, not sure why.



The HTC and Google story: A love affair and a tragedy
Lord knows what compelled me to write this. Had I taken more time to craft it, I think it could've been great but when I read it now I feel it's rushed. Still good, where the idea came from I'll never know.

Video: Flip Mino HD review
This video took 84 takes. For no reason at all I couldn't stop laughing during recording. We got in trouble because it was meant to take a couple of hours but took almost two weeks.

Video: Zeemote review - Is this the future of mobile gaming?
I did this video because Zeemote said that they'd give me a free phone if I reviewed it. So...

GeeklyWeekly Sexy Halloween Special
Wow, how bad is this video? It doesn't even have anything to do with gadgets!!

Video: Dell XPS 13 - The business focused ultrabook

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Dell has followed HP and Sony by unveiling their higher end ultrabook, the Dell XPS 13, at the Intel press conference in CES. The ultrabook's starting price is $999 (£646) and will be available in late February.

The XPS 13 has a 13.3 inch Gorilla glass display, runs on an Intel dual-core Core i3, i5 or i7 processors, either 128GB or 256GB of solid-state hard disk and 4GB of RAM. Other features include a USB 3.0 port and a webcam.

dell xps 13.jpgThe XPS 13 might appear to be a consumer product but this is most definitely a product aimed at the business end of the market. Dell Vice Chairman Jeff Clarke, who unveiled the Ultrabook at CES 2012, said "We're hearing this consumerisation phenomenon happening in the market place. It's undeniable, this is a great product for consumer and it's enterprise ready".

Dell closed down both its Mini netbook and the Streak tablet/smartphone range which were consumer-focused products in order to concentrate on more profitable segments of business computers and mobile devices with the XPS 13 being the first in this new direction.

Clarke went on to say that Dell is looking to make it easier for IT departments to choose the XPS as it comes equipped with TPM from Bitlocker data encryption, Dell ProSupport service and a full range of configuration services, custom integration, custom images and custom asset tagging.





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5 gadget predictions for 2012

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Don't worry, I'm not going to get all emotional and misty eyed about 2011. Sure, it brought us the first handheld 3D gaming console, a plethora of dual-core smartphones and an on-going battle between Samsung and Apple that looks set to continue well into 2012 but I'm now more interested in what 2012 will bring. 

Here are five educated (I have a degree that backs this word up) guesses on what we can expect in 2012:

1. Quad-core processors in smartphones and tablets

Dual-core portable devices became standard fare this year. However, now that NVIDIA has introduced its Tegra 3, the first Quad-Core processor for hand held products, this looks all set to change in 2012. 

ASUS and its Transformer Prime, which is now embroiled in a legal battle with Transformer toy maker Hasbro, became the first to offer a Quad-core tablet. 

I'm sure we will have a lot more lightening fast tablets and phones to look forward to in the coming months but the speed at which these advancements are being made is frightening. Could we possibly even see an Octa-core processor for smaller devices in 2012? 

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2. A Windows 8 tablet

Developer previews of Windows 8 were made public late this year and it's the first Windows OS that is optimised for touchscreen use. 

Dell are rumoured to be working on a tablet that will run Windows 8, with reports even suggesting that it could have been released before the end of the year but obviously that hasn't happened. 

I'm sure there will soon be a whole host of manufacturers keen to stuff their hardware full of Microsoft goodness. I can just picture them now, queueing up in an orderly fashion at Microsoft HQ, "Please, Bill, can we have some more......Windows?"

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3. The iPhone 5 and iPad 3

I think it would be naive to predict anything other than continued domination from Apple in the coming year.

Its products are even more heavily anticipated than the day that Piers Morgan is no longer permitted to beam his smug face onto all our TVs. 

Both devices are rumoured to have thinner and lighter form factors but with larger, retina, displays, improved quality cameras and A5 processors. 

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4. An Amazon Phone

According to reports, Blackberry makers RIM yesterday rejected an approach from Amazon to take over the troubled company. Microsoft and Nokia, who themselves are in a spot of bother, were also rumoured to be interested. 

The Kindle, which has become insanely popular, I mean you can't get on a tube train without seeing at least 3 per carriage, and LoveFilm have gone from strength to strength since Amazon acquired and released them. 

Surely, a foray into the smartphone market is just around the corner? Amazon have all the resources required to make it a success and it could end up becoming an excellent middle ground device.

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5. Siri to get bigger and better, as well as an Android alternative

Although the initial reaction to the launch of the iPhone 4S was disappointment, Siri turns out to actually be rather good. 

Sure, it isn't fully functional in the UK yet, but it is voiced by the guy who does the voice-over for The Weakest Link so you have to take the rough with the smooth. 

In 2012, I expect Siri to become an expert in almost every field. With a little leg work, Siri can already do things like start your car but I expect processes for tasks like this to become even simpler. 

Many houses now come ready fitted with iPads, used to control the lighting, music and various other things and I think that is the future for Siri. Wake up, ask Siri to make you a coffee and either via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, Siri will pass the command on to the lowly, voiceless coffee maker. 

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I'm quite confident that come this time next year at least 80% of the above will have proven to be accurate. You can call me Mystic Meg, actually, please don't, I already have enough distressing nicknames. I'm looking to reduce them in 2012. Hopefully there will be an app for that by then. 

Video: Dell's Slate tablet rivals HP and iSlate

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dell-slate-promo.jpgDell's 5 inch slate looks set to continue the company's foray into the mobile computing market following the Dell Mini 3i.

The 'slate' is larger than a smartphone but than a tablet with a 5 inch touchscreen tablet.

It will run on Google's Android, has a removable battery, SIM card slot and built-in camera but there aren't any other specs so far.

The Slate was unveiled at CES where Michael Tatelman, vice president of sales and marketing in Dell's global consumer group, said they were experimenting with different sizes.

I'm not sure what is the perfect size for a slate, it seems you want it as small as a smartphone but big enough to browse the web. Maybe there isn't a perfect size, I'm sure Apple will tell us when they figure it out.





Video via Electricpig

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