Talking tech since 2003

A few weeks ago, I gave up on my dream to own a Windows Surface Pro, and went instead with the less powerful—but much less expensive—Dell Latitude 10, a Windows 8 tablet. I even bought a little keyboard-case combo thing, so I could get as close to the Surface Pro experience without breaking the bank. Well, it turns out that Dell was thinking along the same lines, as today it’s revealed the Venue 11 Pro, a 10.8-inch tablet running Windows 8.1.

The new computer’s specs are outlined on the Verge: the Venue 11 Pro is outfitted with Intel’s Bay Trail Atom processors, 2GB of RAM and 32GB of internal storage, all of which combines to give the tablet about 11 hours of battery use. That’s pretty impressive, especially compared to the four to six hours estimated for the Surface Pro 2 (I could be wrong on that figure, but I’ve read that the original Surface Pro only managed about two hours, while the follow-up launching this year will approximately double that). And all those specs are just for the basic, $499 model—you can swap out its guts and beef up the tablet to have an Intel i5 Haswell processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 256 SSD. That, my friends, is a powerful tablet PC, though I’m sure the cost rises pretty steadily with the increase in power, too.

But the Venue 11 can also be paired with some very Surface-like accessories. The post describes an “ultrathin fabric-mounted keyboard that doubles as a magnetic stand, or an Asus Transformer-like clamshell dock which adds a full-size keyboard and trackpad and an extra battery that adds several additional hours of runtime.”

In short, just as Microsoft has learned from the mistakes of the first Surface Pro tablet, so too is Dell upping the ante with its line of Windows 8 tablets. Now, I want to make it clear: since getting my Latitude 10 in late-August, I’ve been pretty smitten with my tablet, as well as all that Windows 8 has to offer—despite the fact that it’s still not the best OS it can be. What excites me about Dell’s new tablet is that it shows commitment to the core ideas of the operating system, as well as the belief that there is, indeed, a desire for products that open up interactivity options for users.

If Dell’s Venue 11 can prove to be a viable product, it’d be a real shot in the arm for an OS that hasn’t quite yet caught on among Windows-faithful. The fact that the basic version seems like a viable computing option, and won’t break the bank, is a great step in the right direction. Hopefully Dell’s tablet will get hot—if for no other reason than to light a fire under its PC-making competitors, and Microsoft itself, to keep innovating and lowering prices. The Surface, the Venue, and all tablet PCs represent the direction that technology has been heading in, as more and more users embrace touch-based interfaces and powerful mobile experiences.

And, ultimately, I hope we’ll all be outfitted with PADDs, straight out of Star Trek. To me, it looks like Microsoft and Dell are helping us get there with these new tablets. And, really, shouldn’t everything be more like Star Trek?

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