The Dell Venue 8 Pro seems like one of those tablets that's too good to be true. For $299 you get a full Windows 8.1 tablet (not RT) that can run PC programs, and it has a sharp IPS display and the new Intel Atom Bay Trail quad core CPU. There must be a catch, right? Happily there isn't, and the only drawback is that 32 gigs of storage leaves only 10 gigs free after installing Windows updates and the included MS Office 2013 Home and Student Edition (yes, you get Office for that low price too). For $50 additional you can get the 64 gig model, though most stores are stocking just the 32 gig right now. If you stick to Metro apps, 10 gigs could be adequate since you can store music, movies and files on a microSD card.
Honestly, this is an 8" tablet and you probably won't want to install every piece of PC software you own on it. You can install Photoshop, but it's not an ideal user experience on the small display and the CPU is decent but not a RAW file editing monster. The Intel Atom Z3740D is clocked at 1.33GHz with Turbo Boost to 1.86GHz, and it's twice as fast as the last generation Atom, but still half the speed of an Intel Core i5. So what's the Dell Venue 8 Pro good for? It's great for web browsing (IE with Flash Player included, but feel free to download and install Chrome, Firefox or whatever browser sets your heart on fire). It's a pleasure for 720p video playback, be it streaming or locally stored. It runs the included MS Office 2013 well. You'll likely want a Bluetooth keyboard if you do use Office much. The tablet can handle email, social networking, casual gaming, Metro games but not heavy duty 3D games like Battlefield 4 or Mass Effect. Even Civ V is pushing it.
The Dell Venue 8 Pro has a 1280 x 800 IPS display with wide viewing angles and good brightness once you disable Windows auto-brightness (it keeps you in the dark). For the price, we're thrilled with the display and though it's not Retina resolution, I can't imagine anyone complaining about clarity or colors. It's surprisingly good. The same is true of the competing Lenovo Miix 2 8, also priced at $299. In fact, Toshiba has their Encore and Acer their W4 that all compete with the Dell. This will soon be a space fraught with choice but little variant: specs and pricing will largely be the same. Dell's special sauce is the optional digital pen for more precise, pressure sensitive input. The Venue 8 Pro has an active digitizer, but Dell only includes the pen with their tablet + pen + case bundle. You can order the pen from Dell for $30 via their website.
Of course there's more to tell, so here's our Dell Venue 8 Pro video review. Our full written review will follow.