I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – I’m out and proud…. about my love of Apple and its products.

I tend not to consider other brands initially, going straight for an Apple version of whatever I want, tablet, phone, laptop, desktop, even TV streaming, however, this job gives me a chance to try other products and be honest about their performance, their design and comparisons to Apple.

When the Dell Venue 8 Pro arrived, I was a little anxious. I have used Dell laptops in various job roles and found them okay to use, nothing special in terms of design but reliable. So what would their foray into tablets be like?

On opening the box, I have to admit, Apple’s influence is apparent. The packaging is simple and clean, instructions at a minimum but adequate and the product well protected – and on unwrapping, one hell of a beauty.

This 8inch tablet bridges that gap between a Smartphone and the usual tablets, such as iPads. It fits in your hand; it has a rubberised backing, which helps if you’re a little clumsy (guilty as charged). Again, like Apple, they have kept buttons and all extraneous details to a minimum and on the sides. This little beauty doesn’t have a centre button like iPad, but once you get used to that, it actually makes more sense to shift it to the side. It allows a decent HD screen size – perfect for watching Netflix on the go, reading emails without squinting (or is that just me?) and surfing the net – at the same time, it makes for a powerful, beautiful item to pop into your bag or pocket to keep you connected to your social networks and entertainment.

My only issue is around the OS, which is Microsoft based. Although most of us use MS software at some point, usually at work or college, the transition to tablet isn’t always smooth. It takes a while to get used to the swipe left, right, up or down and what each gesture does and where it takes you. The app store is good, and covers all the basics. For me, it made sense to think about what you want to use this for and keep the apps to a minimum. This tablet only has 2GB RAM built in, but you can expand it with an SD card.

It has 2 cameras built in – and it takes a hell of an image with its 5M pixels – and is light enough to actually be a decent camera alternative. Unlike those who try use their full size iPads as cameras and look like they are about to break their neck! Front and back cameras also make it ideal for Skyping on the go.

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Bluetooth helps you link to external speakers, keyboards and desktops making it flexible and adaptable.

In terms of improving this well thought out piece of kit, I could only ask for another micro USB port. Some people may want to use this instead of a PC, and the more ports the better – it really is that good. I’m not a huge fan of Microsoft OS, but it works, it does its job and once you get used to it, its easy enough to use – but it’s no iOS. It’s not as intuitive as Apple’s product, but it’s a damn fine piece of kit.

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Overall, I love this item – its lightweight, it feels comfortable to hold, it’s quick and responsive, it works well and its a good price. My perspective would be that its a serious contender to an iPad Mini, with a much lower price tag.

About the author: Chris Jones
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