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Microsoft Surface Pro 2 vs. Dell Venue 11 Pro: Which Windows 8.1 Device Is The Best Value?

By Kahlil Thomas on October 3, 2013 5:05 PM EDT 0

Microsoft Surface Pro 2
Microsoft Surface Pro 2

On Wednesday, Dell introduced its new line Dell Venue products at a special media event in New York City. Shortly after all of Dell's new products were unveiled, many of the consumer electronics experts in attendance were buzzing about the Dell Venue 11 Pro, the company's latest entry into the hybrid tablet-laptop market.

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The most immediate question following Dell's special media event in New York City was whether its new roster of Venue tablet-laptop hybrids would be popular enough to compete with Microsoft's own-branded Surface series. The Microsoft Surface Pro 2 release date is scheduled for October 22, and many industry analysts expect it to be a saving grace for the Redmond, Wash.-based company, which has failed to garner significant tablet market share.

For the uninitiated, Microsoft has hedged its mobile strategy on supporting a large roster of hybrid tablet devices that double as laptops. At the helm of this trend is the Microsoft Surface, a historic device that marked the first time the software conglomerate ventured into the hardware business. Although Microsoft has been on a marketing rampage aimed at skewing opinions about the Apple iPad, the company has also backed tablet-laptop hybrids created by legacy PC brands. With that in mind, we've decided to take a look at how the Microsoft Surface 2 compares to the Dell Venue 11:

Operating System: The Microsoft Surface Pro 2 runs on the new Windows 8.1 operating system. This is regarded as a huge benefit by most avid Windows users because the Microsoft alternative, Windows RT OS, is steadily being abandoned by hardware manufacturers. According to the website Tech Radar, Windows 8.1 is easier to use than previous versions on Windows 8. The operating system handles multiple app windows at once and your applications appear on the same list together, which makes it easier to find your favorite apps on your tablet.

The Dell Venue Pro 11 also runs Windows 8.1, which helps the overall performance of the tablet. It's unclear how quickly updates will be made to the Dell Venue products, especially when compared to Microsoft's own-branded tablet, but we suspect that Dell will support its new line of products for a long time.

Winner: Draw (Both tablets run on Windows 8.1 so there could be no winner.)

Performance: The Microsoft Surface Pro 2 will run on a dual-core 1.6 GHz Intel Core processor. The Intel hardware in the Surface Pro 2 is the Intel Core i5, the fourth generation of the processor series that harnesses the "full power of a PC" according to the VP of Microsoft's Surface division Panos Panay. Microsoft claims that the Surface 2 is 20 percent faster, has 50 percent better graphics performance, and is more quiet and cooler than the original Surface Pro. The Microsoft Surface Pro 2 will also have 4GB of RAM with later option including the opportunity for 8GB.

The Dell Venue 11 Pro will feature Intel's Atom quad-core Bay Trail processors and a 4th Generation Intel Core i3 and i5 processor options. The cheaper version of the Venue 11 Pro will be a 2GB version of the tablet. If you want a better processor, which goes up to a Core i5-4300Y, you run the risk of having a heavier tablet. The better processor will also cut down the battery life of the tablet down to eight hours from the normal 10 hours. As with the Surface Pro 2, you can purchase the tablet with 4GB of RAM, but the difference between the two is that an 8GB Venue will be available at launch.

On this end of the competition, the Surface Pro 2 comes with the Intel i5 processor already installed while the Venue offers it has an add-on for better performance, although it may affect battery life and weight of the tablet.

Winner: Microsoft Surface Pro 2

Display: The Surface Pro 2 will feature a 10.6-inch screen with a ClearType HD screen. The Surface will also have a 1080p multi-touch digitizer LCD display that will feature  46 percent improved color accuracy.

The Venue 11 Pro will have a 10.8-inch IPS Full-HD touchscreen with a resolution of 1920 by 1080 pixels. It will have ten touch point and will have a HDMI port that can be used to link your tablet to external monitor. It may seem small, but the slightly bigger screen on the Venue Pro 11 makes the difference in this category.

Winner: Dell Venue 11 Pro 

Dell Venue Pro 11
Dell Venue Pro 11

Accessories: The Microsoft Surface Pro 2 will have an updated cover. The Touch Cover 2 and Type Cover 2 will be slightly thinner than the other versions of the cover with the Touch Cover 2 having over 1,000 sensors on it, compared to 80 on the first Type Cover. The new Power Cover accessory will also be available and will add 30Wh of additional battery capacity to the Surface Pro 2. In addition to the covers, a kickstand comes attached to the Surface and a docking station will be available. When unveiling the Surface, a new Music Cover that will serve as a DJ mixer will also be available.

The Dell Venue 11 Pro has four accessories that helps in its fight against the Surface Pro 2. One of the big draws during Dell's reveal of the tablets on Wednesday was the new Dell Active Stylus. The biggest change was making the stylus more like a real pen and therefor more comfortable for uses to use, instead of the normal smaller, less comfortable thinner and smaller styluses. In addition to the stylus, Dell released two new keyboards, the Slim and Mobile Keyboard, which will compete with Microsoft's Surface keyboard. The Slim Keyboard is similar to the Surface in that is can be used as both a keyboard and a cover for tablet. The Mobile Keyboard has an integrated battery that will increase the normal life of the Venue Pro 11 and comes with a full-sized keyboard.

Winner: Microsoft Surface Pro 2

Price: The Microsoft Surface Pro 2 will start at $899 for a 64 GB model and will go as high as $1,799 for 512 GB model. The Venue 11 Pro will start at $499.00 for a 32GB model. For the price aspect of tablets, Venue beat Surface by a huge amount.

Winner: Dell Venue 11 Pro 

Final Verdict: While the Dell Venue 11 Pro offers many different options from the Surface, the Venue just feels clunky and big as compared to the Surface. The speed of the Surface Pro 2 also plays major part in the decision as Microsoft put a lot of work into making this generations of tablet as fast as possible with Venue not far behind but behind none the less. The price is a little steep but for the price and what you get, Microsoft Surface Pro 2 is the choice to make.

Winner: Microsoft Surface Pro 2

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