We were impressed with the original, Atom-powered Dell Venue 11 Pro, because of the Windows tablet's long battery life, sturdy chassis and vibrant 1080p screen. However, the expensive, Core i5-powered model underwhelmed with weak endurance and a bulky body. Announced today, the new Venue Pro 11 7000 (7140) promises a better balance between performance and portability, incorporating Intel's new low-power, high-speed Core M processor while offering a spate of new productivity-centric accessories. With a starting price of $699, $200 more than the Atom version but $380 less than the i5 model, the new business-centric slate doesn't come cheap, but it promises improved performance and versatility.
At 1.6 pounds and 11.01 x 6.95 x .42 inches, the new Venue 11 Pro is 15 percent thinner but otherwise shares the same weight and dimensions as its Atom-based predecessor while undercutting the i5 model by .2 pounds. It also has the same design aesthetic as earlier models: a black, soft-touch backside combined with magnesium sides and a glossy black bezel. You can thank the Intel Core M processor, available in either 2-GHz (Core M 5Y10a) or 2.6-GHz (Core M 5Y70) speeds, for the slightly-slimmer body. Because of its relatively-low TDP (thermal design profile), Core M doesn't require active cooling, which allows OEMs like Dell to drop the fans they had to use on previous tablets. The new processor platform should also provide a significant speed bump over last year's Atom Z3770-powered Venue 11 Pro.
Like its predecessor, the new Venue 11 Pro has a 10.8-inch, 1920 x 1080 display with 10-point capacitive touch. Dell claims that the new model's panel will provide 400 nits of brightness, which would be a huge improvement over the weak 151-nits we measured on the Atom-based model, but about on par with the Core i5 version's 370-nit display. In a brief hands-on, the screen appeared bright and colorful to our naked eyes, but we were inside a relatively-dim office.
The new Venue Pro 11 includes a "thin" keyboard in the box, making it a possible laptop replacement. The company also plans to sell a travel keyboard with better, more finger-friendly keys, and a docking station for hooking up to a monitor and full-size keyboard and mouse.
Even without these accessories, the Venue 11 Pro 7000 has plenty of connectivity options, including a full-size USB 3.0 port, micro HDMI out, a microSD card reader and a headphone jack. The device can connect to wireless using a dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi card or Bluetooth 4.0.
In addition to its Core M processor, the Dell Venue 11 Pro includes 4 or 8 GB of RAM and 64, 128 or 256GB of solid state storage. A rear 8-MP camera promises solid photographs while the 2-MP front-facing lens should be more than adequate for video conferencing.
We got to spend just a few moments with the Venue 11 Pro 7000, but were intrigued by its colorful screen and promising processor. We look forward to seeing how the tablet performs when we get to put a production model through its paces in our lab.