Dell Venue 8 Pro in 2021

I recently found an old and old Dell Venue 8 Pro in a drawer with its old Intel Atom 3740D processor and 1,280x800 touch screen. With only 2GB of ram and 18GB of its 30GB available storage being taken by Windows Updates, you can’t install too much. IT doesn’t have the best battery life and the resolution isn’t that great for streaming.

What are some cool and novel uses for an absolutely TINY Windows 8.1 tablet in 2021?

I was thinking of installing Touch Portal on mine and using it as a Stream Deck alternative. A really cool secondary interface to program macros and shortcuts on. I think a 7-8" tablet is the perfect size, with 6" phones being way too small and +10" tablets being too large and unwieldy.

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I still have mine kicking around. I think I had the 4GB RAM model. It was actually my day trip computer for a little while. I had a folio stand and little magnetic Bluetooth keyboard. The whole thing fit inside my sport coat pocket. I seem to recall getting stymied by a lack of disc space during an update two or three years ago and losing interest. I’ve since adopted an iPad Pro 11 as my travel companion. I should dig up that old Dell, except that might remind my wife I never quite managed to get rid of it. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

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Yeah, had one too that I eventually offloaded on eBay. Was constantly running out of disc space and got fed up.

I use mine to be paperless at the grocery store by making a list on OneNote at home and then pop it open to sync up before leaving the house. I don’t really use it for more than that anymore but carrying my Surface Pro X at the store is about like using a sledge hammer for framing nails. The screen is bigger than the phone so it is way more readable and useful.

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I had one. It felt so much more substantial than the Asus Vivotab Note 8. I really wanted to like it, but Dell used some @#$%^&* proprietary pen system that never really worked. It turned out to be just another near miss to what a Surface Mini could have been.

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Yeah, I look at the iPad Mini and think “this is what I wish the Surface Mini had been”. Then again, I also thought Microsoft should have made a thin, large screen kitchen computer that showed family calendar, weather, photos, etc.; played music and videos; did Skype calls and had Cortana integrated. Eventually we did see things like Amazon’s Echo Show and Facebook’s Portal and whatever smart screen from Google. Microsoft had the tools in place almost a decade ago but… well… Microsoft. :man_shrugging:t3:

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Dude, I thought my 64GB Surface Pro was bad. I forgot I had this Venue 8 and it only had 32GB.

The way I have addressing it is by adding a 64GB microSD card and mapping most of my /Users/ folder over to it using SymLinks. Its the solution I had for my Surface Pro and what I just did to my Venue 8. For these low end Windows tablets the fact they have microSD is a real life saver.

Also microUSB in 2021. I had slowly phased out most of my microUSB devices over the last few years only to find this old thing. I am glad its USB instead of some proprietary power brick I would have lost, but man I really like the convenience of modern devices and USB-C.

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True, I did use an SDXC card or something like that, but the problem was that the huge system files couldn’t get stored there as I didn’t use any special SW for that. After that and my experience with a 32gb iPad years ago, I vowed never to buy a 32gb device again.

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I still have my Venue 8 Pro, and it’s still charging and receiving updates. I used it primarily to navigate with a Bluetooth GPS. I’m wondering how much longer it will accept updates.

Warning: this is a long dump of somewhat technical information.

I have a Venue 8 pro on a shelf.
It was pretty good for the price, but not actually very useful to me.
Android tablets were just better for tablet functions.

When I bought it, I wished to run Linux on it. Unfortunately there were a number of barrier.

I have been able to update Windows. I think that I sometimes had to give Windows Update a blank USB stick for temporary files (that was some time ago). Recent updates don’t seem to require extra space (note: almost nothing is installed on my tablet so Windows can have the whole eMMC). Updates are very very slow.

It is possible to boot off a USB stick. Dell sold a special dongle/cable that allowed a USB device and power to be connected through the OTG USB socket on the tablet.

It is not possible to boot off the SD card. I think that the reason is that the UEFI system does not have a driver for the SD interface. Very unfortunate. It should be possible to write such a driver and install it in ESP partition. But I don’t think that anyone has. If that were possible, dual boot with Linux could make sense, with most of Linux living on an SD card.

Recently I successfully booted a live Fedora 35 x86-64 Linux USB stick. It required some firmware (BIOS) settings that prevented Windows from booting (I’ve forgotten which settings). It’s not much fun using a tablet with a dongle plus USB stick hanging off it. So this was mostly a proof of concept.

The hardware isn’t very compelling in 2022, but it still works. 32G of eMMC is the worst limitation, I think.

Very few Linux distros support 32-bit x86 hardware these days. The V8p has a 32-bit UEFI so it expects to boot a 32-bit OS. But the processor is 64-bit. Some time after the V8p was released, the Linux kernel developed the ability to run in 64-bit mode on top of a 32-bit UEFI. That’s why the 64-bit Fedora could run.

64-bit Windows won’t run on a 32-bit UEFI system. I would like to try WSL (Windows Subsystem for Linux) on the V8p but WSL requres 64-bit Windows.

The V8p was part of a generation of Windows/Intel hardware that was intentionally crippled so that it could not compete with more expensive PC systems but was cheap enough to take on Android/ARM. Intel blew a billion or so subsidizing the processors and Microsoft blew even more, including buying Nokia.

There are Windows-based tablets and convertibles, but none at the low price points of the V8p era.

My V8p originally cost C$100 from the Microsoft store (that included a license for MS Office!). Then I bought accessories. Compare that with: I recently bought and enjoy a ChromeOS tablet from Lenovo for C$129.

I remember this tablet well. I got it at the Microsoft Store (RIP) through the door buster deal they had at a local mall for $99. In fact, I somehow managed to use it as my daily driver for classes in college for a semester. However, as @Bishop duly noted, the Synaptic pen system is trash tier and made my handwriting look like I was still a preschooler scribbling with a crayon.

I used to act as an industry helper for Dell during the time the VP8 and other similar tablets were current. A “defining feature” of the type, I told a user in the VP8 support forum, was the attempt at “instant-on” for Windows. Dell, and we, thought that people would turn the tablet “Off” and it would enter a ready sleep state, hold it for a day or three, and spring right back to life, picking up where one left off. Restarting the tablet, the theory went, would only be needed for updates. This particular user wanted to defeat this… Anyway, Dell support liked that defining feature part and started telling people that. (It made it to the HP support forums, too.)

This was failure prone. Folks would get two or three applications loaded and try to shut it off, and then Windows would try some kind of spooky hybrid RAM + RAM backup on the EMC. The idea was that if the tablet ran out of juice while sleeping, it could reload from the EMC after charging. Of course, the VP8 could run out of RAM or hard drive rather easily, and then the entire notion of instant on ability came crashing down. Who knew what it was doing?

This did cause some consternation for Dell (and other manufacturers, notably HP) , but I eventually found out that it worked fine if I had no applications running. :slight_smile:

Pluggable also made a USB-power adapter for the V8P. I still have one here somewhere. I also have a Mark III pen that works. When the tablet doesn’t recognize it, unscrewing it and re-screwing it usually makes it connect. Sometimes the tablet needs to be restarted to make it work.

And now I use a Yoga (educational model you can drive an European car over, according to Lenovo UK) to tune pianos and a third generation Ipad Pro 11 to control a Roland keyboard . I also have a six-core Thinkpad that runs a pipe organ simulation for my Rodgers organ. I’m typing on a 16 GB i7-7700K HP 870-291 gaming PC that does not qualify for Windows 11. In fact, that 2021 Thinkpad is the only PC I have that does.

But I sure thought the Dell Venue Pro was hot stuff when MS was trying to get Windows tablets to act like Android. (Our application also ran on Palm handhelds and Pocket PCs. We never released public support for PCs, but had we some companies running a version for Windows out there in the real world.)

Gee, I loved that job.

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Hey cool, we don’t have too many people here that use their tablet(s) for music. @violajack is the other one I know, but I think it’s mostly for reading sheet music. Would not have expected the words Lenovo and Pipe Organ so closely together! :joy:

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I had owned a few Atom Baytral/ Cherry Trail tablets, and always turn off my tablet after using. I think it was something ingrained into my mind after years of using windows: always save and close the program you are working on if you gonna stop using it, or you risk coming back with your works screwed up by a virus/ windows problem when you were sleeping the device

With Windows, I only feel safe to leave the device unattended after hitting the shut down button, it’s a habit that’s hard to fix. It’s the reason I go to Android/iOS when I only have 1-2 hours free time to work on something on and off during the week day, and only use Windows when I know I have 6-7 hours to use it in one go.

I still have a soft spot for those cute, mini Windows tablet and have to fight the urge to buy them when I saw them cheap on the used market. Saw some, Dell Venue Pro, Wacom penabled Fujitsu tablets and Toshiba z20t for dirt cheap, really need some self-control as they are devices I had been salivating after back in the days. :yum:

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Some folks were very annoyed that turning off their new tablet did not actually turn it off.

And I’m with you, from IBM-DOS to PC-DOS to Windows 1.0 and up, we were taught to save early and save often.

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I used to run antergos, an arch Linux distro, with a kernel with fixes for the surface 3 (if I remember correctly?) on my Dell Venue 8 Pro 5855 (64gb storage and the somewhat faster Atom x5-8500).
It was a very capable setup actually.
I did roughly what you described, I think, having dual boot with Windows in case I need that.
I believed I had only the UEFI and /boot partitions on the emmc, and / and /home were on a larger sd card.
Used the system with a Bluetooth keyboard when traveling for about 2 years up until I got the OneMix Yoga 2s, which had a 7 inch seven, integrated keyboard 360 degree style.

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Ha Ha. This seems to be the new benchmark in a device’s durability (replacing MILSPEC construction as the benchmark). You heard it here first.

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