Dell Revisits Venue for Battle in Tablets

PC Manufacturer’s New Tablets and Accessories May Appeal Across Industries


Earlier this month, Dell announced a new range of Windows and Android tablets. The PC manufacturer aims to connect with commercial and consumer audiences with its new line-up of devices, consisting of the Venue 7 and Venue 8, Venue 8 Pro, Venue 11 Pro and XPS 11.

A good way to establish a well-defined place in a market is to create an identity for a portfolio of products. In an attempt to bolster its recognition in the tablet space, Dell has reintroduced the Venue brand previously used for some of the company’s smartphones. While it may not be the most striking of brand names, it’s certainly an improvement on Streak, Dell’s smartphone–tablet hybrid (arguably the first “phablet”).

The Venue 7 and Venue 8 are affordable, feature-rich Android tablets targeted at emerging markets. These seven-inch and eight-inch devices are a brave move by the company, entering battle in a saturated segment where prices are only getting lower. While very reasonable at $149 and $199 respectively, I think it’ll take some effort to disrupt demand for the no-name brands popular with these markets.

Dell’s Windows 8 offerings come in the form of the Venue 8 Pro and Venue 11 Pro, intended largely for commercial use. The Venue 8 Pro runs the latest version of Windows 8.1, and has a price of $300. The Venue Pro 11 is a powerful machine with fourth-generation Intel Core i3 and i5 processor options. These enable it to be a tablet that works well as a laptop, and Dell’s answer to the Microsoft Surface Pro 2.

All the Venue tablets are based on Intel processors. The Venue 7 and Venue 8 feature Intel Clover Trail processors, and the Dell Venue 8 Pro and Dell Venue 11 Pro contain the new Intel Atom quad-core Bay Trail processors. Using Intel’s silicon supports Dell’s aim to focus on speed, responsiveness, and battery efficiency — a combination of attributes that provides a superior laptop experience.

Many could view these announcements as just more uninspiring tablets from an equipment manufacturer adding to a homogeneous market which has reached a plateau in design and innovation. In reality, these are good-looking devices, and what particularly stands out is the range of accessories offered. As well as smart cases and detachable keyboards, the company has invested in some intelligent solutions. These make them more suitable for use in certain industries. For example, a keyboard that’s easy to wipe clean would find favour in the healthcare industry.

As well as joining the Microsoft Surface in adding weight to the choice of Windows tablets available, the new range could affect Apple’s iPad. Consumer demand for smaller seven- or eight-inch tablets and the growing enterprise uptake of larger 11-inch-plus tablets have squeezed the 9.7-inch iPad in recent months. Dell’s recent releases and innovation with its accessories will add to this pressure. We’ve already seen Apple counter with the release of the iPad mini to win back some of the share it lost to Google and Amazon, as well as many other no-name Android suppliers. The recent addition of 64-bit architecture to the new iPad Air range is a timely response in its efforts to push tablets into the business sector.