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Are desktops and laptops becoming obsolete? Who still needs stationary PCs or classic laptops when the little Windows tablet offers enough computing power, interfaces, input devices, and storage?
Dell Venue 11 Pro (7140) with travel keyboard: Will the Broadwell tablet make a subnotebook superfluous?
Manufacturers have been launching Windows tablets and convertibles in the PC market for several years now. Ever since the upsurge of low-priced tablets and smartphones, Windows-based systems have been on a downturn. Former Windows users now do most of their communication and online tasks with a tablet or phone, and put buying a PC system on the back burner. This did put the Windows World under pressure; the devices had to become more attractive.
It was not enough to simply force Windows onto a tablet. There were not enough interfaces, the performance was too low, the storage capacity was tight, and there was no decent keyboard when one was needed. The latter is especially important for business customers. We have had quite a few devices on our desk that could keep up with the performance of laptops owing to Haswell chips. However, waste heat was still an issue, and too short battery runtimes have also often been a problem. The last point now seems resolved with the economicalBroadwell Core Mchips: Fanless tablets with a long battery life and good performance are on the shelves.
Dell uses the sophisticated Broadwell mobile technology for itsVenue 11 Pro 7140. It claims to satisfy all requirements placed on a small, portable Windows PC as a handy10.8-inch tabletwith a weight of 720 grams (~1.59 lb). The package comprised of a tablet PC keyboard, mobile version (188 Euros; ~$225 including VAT), and Dell”s Venue 11 Pro (772 Euros; ~$926) has its price (960 Euros; ~$1152). In this test we will examine whether it is justified.
The top-of-the-rangecompetitors(tablets with keyboard, 10 to 12 inches) in the business sector are Toshiba”s PortégéZ10t, HP”s Pro X2 410 G1, and Microsoft”sSurface Pro 3. Lenovo”sThinkPad Helixwould also be a rival,but the11.6-inch device costs a whole 500 Euros (~$600) more.
· Toshiba Portégé Z10t-A2111(11.6 inches, Haswell, starts at 770 Euros; ~$924)
· HP Pro X2 410 G1(11.6 inches, Haswell, starts at 850 Euros; ~$1020)
· Microsoft Surface Pro 3(12 inches, Haswell, starts at 950 Euros; ~$1140)
· HP EliteBook Revolve 810 G2(11.6 inches, Haswell)
. Lenovo ThinkPad Helix 3G(11.6 inches, Haswell, 1450 Euros; ~$1740)
To each his own: We tested the Venue 11 Pro (7140) as a convertible
The tablet unit is made of a hard plastic bezel, and the back features a rubberized plate. It can be removed formaintenance, which is a big advantage of Dell”s Venue line. For this, the screw under the SD slot flap has to be removed first. The back can then be lifted off carefully with a putty knife.
Thetablet”sweight of720 grams(~1.59 lb) is not more than that of the other competitors. The somewhat larger Microsoft weighs 810 grams (~1.79 lb). Our Venue 11 Pro weighs1.4 kilograms (~3 lb) togetherwith thetravel dockincluding a second battery (683 grams; ~1.5 lb). ThePortégé Z10t-A2111(1.4 kilograms; ~3 lb) weighs just as much, andHP”s Pro X2 410 G1(1.6 kg; ~3.5 lb) is the heaviest.
The rigidity is quite good; the tablet can only be warped with some force using both hands. The quality makes a coherent, strong impression in the hand. Only the fingerprints on the glossy touchscreen annoyed us. Only theZ10thas a fingerprint-smudge-free zone with its anti-glare coating.
Although the same high-quality material is used for thetablet PC keyboard, it cannot quite keep up with the tablet”s rigidity. The input device makes a solid impression on the desk, but not too much force should be used when typing on it. The keyboard yields slightly in the middle due to the cavity under the dock. The construction creaks and makes snapping sounds when warped with both hands. It is made of a base tray (rubberized, very slip-proof) and an aluminum upper side. The latter has been crinkled and polished on the edges for good looks.
Thehingehas atightfit on the chassis and functions as a stand that tilts the keys slightly. The tablet fits so firmly in its mount that we needed both hands for opening it. Unlike Toshiba, Dell does not rely on a U-shape socket, but on an open-back solution. Themassivehinge and metal hooks prevent the tablet from rocking, which is not a matter of course for this docking design. The user can release the tablet from the keyboard by pressing a mechanical button. Fastdockingwithout looking is possible.