There’s a new competitor to the Surface Pro 3, not that Microsoft will mind. Like Microsoft’s hybrid, Dell’s updated Venue 11 Pro packs full laptop power in a tablet, and plugs into various keyboard docks and covers to become a professionally oriented workstation.
The Venue 11 Pro 7000 Series — a catchy name consumers will love — starts at $799, and for that price, you’ll get a 2GHz Intel Core M processor, 4GB of RAM, and 64GB of internal flash storage powering a 10.8-inch 1080p OLED touchscreen. That compares well to the entry-level Surface Pro 3, which has a superior (on paper) 12-inch 2160 x 1440 touchscreen, the same RAM and storage, but a less powerful Intel Core i3 processor.
Like the Surface, there are a variety of component upgrades available, including one model with a built-in LTE modem. Unlike the Surface Pro, however, [company]Dell[/company] will be including a tablet keyboard case with the entry-level model — which is arguably a $110 value, and in my opinion, are essential for the dual-use flexibility that these kind of tablet-laptop hybrids advertise.
Tablets that function as laptops (with a keyboard case) or desktops (with a dock) are important to watch as Windows 10 continues to blur the line between touch interfaces and the traditional keyboard and mouse.
Dell makes other tablets that can run a full version of Windows 8, like the Venue 8 Pro my colleague Kevin Tofel likes. But the key to the Dell Venue 11 Pro 7000 is that instead of an inexpensive [company]Intel[/company] Atom chip, it’s using Intel’s new Core M processors, which are built on a new Broadwell design and provide tablets with a processor powerful enough for a laptop but doesn’t require a fan.
It’s safe to say that Dell making a Surface Pro-style tablet won’t be ruffling feathers at Microsoft, which has sometimes called the Surface a “reference design” for its hardware partners to emulate. I’m sure there are Surface fans eager for a Core M-equipped Surface Pro, and it looks like they’ll have to wait until next year. But starting November 11, you can check out a sweet Dell tablet that does essentially the same thing.