Dell Venue 8 Pro.

Started 7 months ago | Discussions thread
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Russell Evans
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Dell Venue 8 Pro.
7 months ago

The Dell Venue 8 Pro is a Quad Atom CPU, 2Gb ram, 32bit Windows 8.1, 7 inch tablet, with a 1280 x 800 LCD screen. The unit has a mirco USB port that can be used with an OTG USB adapter to provide a USB 2.0 port that will support low power devices and with a powered USB hub, all USB devices that a standard Windows 8.1 computer will support.

So what does this have to do with Pentax DSLRs? Well, it's able to tether my K-5 with PKtriggercord and PK_Tether via the USB connection. Since this is a Windows computer and has wifi, you can do remote desktop from another tablet, phone, laptop, ... so you can use this like a Camranger, for about the same price.

I bought a $22, USB video capture unit, does S-video and composite, and I can use it with the video out and live view of the camera to have a remote monitor. PAL output is 720 × 576 and the app that came with the card does full screen on the 7 inch, so it actually is a pretty nice monitor solution. It would be nice to use the HDMI port, but I haven't seem like USB capture units that work with HDMI. There are some game capture units on the market, but I don't know if they have the ability to preview. I'm only using the preview part of the capture software with the composite unit I bought, not actually capturing the video. Live view and playback are pretty good.

Unfortunately, activating live view with tethering locks up the camera, so it is one or the other. There are third party Nikon cables with both the USB and video out connectors on a single camera connector. I have one of these on order from China, so will have to see if it works with the K-5 when it get here in a month or so.

I have on order an external USB video card to use with the Venue 8 Pro for connecting to an external monitor. I'm mostly thinking of this for connecting to a TV in a hotel room. With a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard, I should be able to use any desktop app in the hotel. I hoping LR will be workable as well as the Nik and Topaz suites. Maybe even Photoshop. I don't normally have time when traveling to work on photos, but I might can do some initial tagging and categorization.

With a small USB hub, I can plug in my GPS tracker to get the logs, it acts like a USB mass storage device when plugged in, and plug in a SD card reader to geotag the photos on the SD card. LR will do this as well as GeoSetter. I'll just have to decide which will be easier to use. I know Geosetter puts the tags inside the photo files, but I'm not sure if LR will. I think it would be useful to geotag the photos at the end of each day as that should make catching issues like time zone and clock drift easier to deal with.

Of coarse backups on the road become easier now. I did buy a 64Gb microSD card for the Venue 8 Pro micro SD slot, but I probably won't be using that to store photos normally. Just use a couple of SD card readers to make copies. With raw + jpeg, if there are jpegs I like, I could even post them from the hotel.

OK, so tethering, remote monitor, geo-tagging, general tagging and review, backup, and maybe some editing. Oh yes, the TPE the desktop versionĀ  is installed so there is that too. If you are into video there are teleprompter Windows software. Uploading, Eyefi card.

Coming back to the tablet as just a tablet; a Windows 8.1 tablet really isn't the tablet experience I have gotten used to with Android or ISO. It's a notebook experience except for a few Metro apps. There aren't really a lot of small useful Metro apps that I've seen, so the whole tablet experience is more about having a really portable Windows computer. I can live with that as I really was looking for something different. It's really nice to have a USB port with support for a multitude of hardware, and just have more control over the machine and OS. I have my Android smartphone, so I have that for the useful small apps it provides in my pocket. Having something that isn't just a larger version of that is actually pretty nice. The small size is an issue with the Windows interface though. With access to the BIOS and the ability to boot from USB, I have to wonder about having a dual boot machine with Windows and Android at some point.

Dell sells an active pen for the unit which I have ordered, but it seems to be in short supply, so I don't know when I will be able to comment on its use. With the screen being so small and the resolution it has, looking at the screen and actually using the legacy Desktop and applications is pretty impossible without some sort of pointing device. I've got pretty skinny fingers, and it's hit and miss in trying to select things with my finger tip. I'm using a Bluetooth mouse for now, but a mouse isn't the right tool for a tablet. Fine with a desk or other flat surface, but not, go anywhere, which is what you buy a tablet for. The active pen has a normal pen shaped point, so it should be fine for a mouse replacement. People are however complaining about the first drivers for the pen not being accurate enough to be able to be used with handwriting and drawing apps. There is new drivers and some are saying problem fixed, some are saying not. Hopefully it will be fine just with mouse navigation and clicking. That's mostly all I'm looking for.

So why the Venue 8 Pro over one of the larger 10 inch tablets? When looking at the Win 8, 10 inch tablets, they cost as much or more than a Surface Pro for the same hardware I have in the 7 inch, except LCD of coarse. The Surface Pro is a machine with an i5, 4Gb ram, 128Gb SSD and digitizer I personally would just buy a Surface Pro as it is the better hardware. The Surface Pro is much easier to work with as far as the Windows interface, I've played with one multiple time in the store in trying to decide whether to buy one for personal use or not. The larger size makes a difference, and if I was needing to be more productive, as in needing it for work, I would go with it over the Venue 8 Pro. I'm looking more for portable, however. We have to drag a work laptop around, and that has gotten old over the last couple of decades. The 10 inch tablets are better than a laptop, and I would take a Surface Pro over a laptop any day, but it still is a bit more than I'm wanting to deal with for personal use when traveling.

Thank you
Russell

Pentax K-5
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