Dell Venue Pro - Keyboard and Screen

Slide up the Venue Pro’s screen, and you get to the portrait QWERTY keyboard. There aren’t too many portrait QWERTY sliders out there in the smartphone world - Palm has the Pre/Veer family, Motorola recently announced the XT300 Spice slider, Samsung supposedly has an Android portrait slider in the works, and that’s basically it.

So the Venue Pro uses one of the more unique smartphone form factors out there, and as far as physical portrait QWERTY keyboards go, I think the Venue Pro is one of the best. My previous favorite was the BlackBerry Curve, but in my opinion the Venue Pro surpasses even that. The keyboard was very tactile, with good key sizing and spacing (always a concern with portrait QWERTY devices). Coming from the HTC G2’s awesome landscape keyboard, it took me very little time to adjust to the Venue Pro’s keyboard.

I did try out the Windows Phone  7 virtual keyboard, but there’s not too much to report here - it’s pretty similar to using the keyboard on a Focus or HD7. I prefer the physical keyboard, but the default Windows Phone 7 keyboard is definitely pretty good.

The screen is also pretty good - it’s an AMOLED display, with a WVGA resolution. It’s actually pretty dim compared to some of the other AMOLED displays we’ve seen, with the HTC-built AMOLED devices 10-20% brighter, the Focus 25% brighter, and the rest of Samsung's Super AMOLED displays 70-100% brighter than the Venue Pro. The colours are noticeably more vibrant than the HD7 when side by side, though a touch cooler than most LCDs.

Display Brightness

Display Brightness

The 800 x 480 resolution on the 4.1” display gives it a pixel density of 228 pixels per inch. That’s not quite as high as the Surround or other Windows devices with smaller screens, but not a problem overall. The curvature of the display is convex, in contrast to the slightly concave display in the Nexus S. In the Nexus S, the curve serves an ergonomic purpose, but the Venue Pro’s curved display is purely aesthetic. It definitely plays into the rest of the Venue Pro’s industrial design, and my initial concerns about the glare and reflections went unfounded.

Dell Venue Pro - Hardware Impressions Dell Venue Pro - Software
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  • eddman - Monday, March 14, 2011 - link

    Then you might be interested in Venue, if you don't want the keyboard.
  • eddman - Monday, March 14, 2011 - link

    EDIT: "if the lack of keyboard isn't a problem for you."
  • takumsawsherman - Monday, March 14, 2011 - link

    More importantly, there seems to be no point in buying this phone. What would make it compelling? WP7? Big and bulky? Poor battery life? Camera that sucks? Few apps? No successful history? Made by a company that specializes in making poor quality computers that are a sad attempt at "Me, too"? Why don't you just buy a Dell Adamo while you're at it.

    Give me a good Android or iPhone, and I will be fine. I don't think someone can survive on a "Venue Pro". What exactly is a "Venue Pro", anyway? Even the name sucks.
  • VivekGowri - Monday, March 14, 2011 - link

    Hmm, I actually have an Adamo...This might explain a lot. What I will say is that Dell can turn out some really well designed, high quality devices when they try. Unfortunately, only about one in ten Dell products are actually designed at that level, but the ones that are generally are quite nice. The Venue/Venue Pro is one of them.

    The camera isn't any better or worse than the other WP7 devices, most smartphones are pretty close these days as far as camera quality goes. Good pictures in well lit settings, terrible low light pictures, passable video camera. Other than the stuff about the camera button, I could have basically copied/pasted that section right out of my last smartphone review.

    If you're looking for a WP7 device, this has some compelling features, namely the keyboard and design/build. Most of the WP7-related issues will go away over time (look how far Android has come in the last 18 months - Microsoft has the money and developers to do something similar).
  • neogodless - Monday, March 14, 2011 - link

    I've had the phone a week. I love the screen. I do agree it's a tad too dim for some outdoor activities, although, that's usually only a problem if I'm trying to walk while using it. The screen is also a huge magnet for smudges. I'm considering trying out a protector.

    My 8GB unit has been very stable. The camera is very tricky to use - I'd love to see a software shutter release in the future. The power button is a little hard to get to, but a quick quarter slide open/close is kind of nice for seeing if there's anything new. And seeing updates fed to the lock screen means you don't have to go any further (unless you want to check out live tiles.) The apps I've used generally load pretty fast. Facebook app is unimpressive but workable. Kindle is awesome. Haven't tested Netflix yet. I like the games (Bubble Birds and Ice Balls are neat to play with.)

    Really love the Gmail and Outlook email interfaces. And also love Office. Mostly just use OneNote for jotting things down.

    The browser seems just great for anything I've used it for, which I guess hasn't been anything too fancy.

    Love all the Zune stuff. Never had a Zune... really love the music player, the marketplace integration, and I like how you can use it as an MP3 player, tap a volume button and then pause or skip tracks. And the top audio jack is nice for sitting the phone in the car (though if I have to plug in a USB cord for longer trips on the bottom, that will be much less ideal!)

    Here's a list I made for a friend that asked about it (this was after 2 days use.)

    Minor annoyances
    • No way to sync Facebook calendar/events with main calendar as of yet (can view them from Facebook App though)
    • Copy/paste not supported… supposed to be here THIS WEEK though
    o (also can’t forward OneNote files or share them in any way, so lack of Copy/Paste a bummer for that purpose…)
    • Doesn’t charge very well from computer/USB – if battery is critically low, doesn’t charge at all. Does charge fine from wall charger
    o Battery life is pretty bad so far, though I’ve been using the phone a lot…
    • Physical keyboard… is kind of a waste of space for me, touch screen keyboard is actually great, and my fingers are HUGE
    • Poor t-mobile signal at my house, and unlike blackberry and some newer Androids, doesn’t support UMA or WiFi calling (does support WiFi for all data services though)
    • Have to slide open a bit or hit power button to light up screen, no notification LEDs, so have to do this to check for updates
    • Facebook Messages aren’t integrated, have to open Facebook App
    • Camera pretty bad in less than ideal lighting, button a little hard to press, too.

    Things I like or love
    • Everything is so smooth
    • Tons of high quality free apps and games
    • Tons of ways to access free music / streaming radios (even an FM radio built in, though you need headphones, but then, duh)
    • Love the Email and Texting interfaces
    • Actually like having work email and calendar on here, it’s unobtrusive and helps me get to my meetings on time
  • neogodless - Monday, March 14, 2011 - link

    You can email OneNote files. You may have to exit completely, then re-open so you are only in "View" mode, not "Edit' mode - you'll have Pin and Email icons.
    Battery Life has been pretty good now that I don't play with the phone every waking moment.
    It does charge OK though slowly from a USB port, but you can't let the battery get to "critically low" or you'll need the wall charger.
    Wait, when is Copy/Paste getting here?

    A little nuisance I found today was that I have some friends with multiple phone numbers... there was no way to see which one they used to text me, so I had to play around a little to figure out which one they use for that. Can't say that's a typical use case, though.

    And it would be nice to start seeing more apps released by companies... banks,, etc... hopefully it will come with popularity. I'm hoping to learn how to write my own in the meantime... especially if they provide open APIs :)
  • VivekGowri - Monday, March 14, 2011 - link

    That update was supposed to be there at the end of Jan, middle of Feb, beginning of March. I'll believe it when I see it.
  • mados123 - Monday, March 14, 2011 - link

    Now if they could just have the DELL logo less obvious - maybe just remove the outer circle.
  • BaronMatrix - Monday, March 14, 2011 - link

    and it's better than EVERY one of my friends' phone (Android or IPhone). The Keyboard is so smooth I can type FAST. I DO hate that it doesn't allow you to go back without deleting text, but you can use the suggestions.
    The MP3 player is great - not as good as a dedicated one but MP3 players won't let you track yourself on a map.

    Texting is a JOY. It's SUPER-EASY to get to any apps. The People Hub pays for the whole phone. It allows you to add all of your contacts from Facebook, Live, Yahoo in one place. Selecting emails and phone numbers is so easy you don't need Copy and Paste.

    The Phone is VERY FAST opening the apps I use - haven't gotten any new ones. The animations are super smooth.

    Silverlight is the best platform for visual computing as it's easy to program and does everything that Flash AND JavaScript do using a high level language.

    MS doesn't always do it right but they did this time.

    Anyone looking for a first phone - GET THIS. Anyone unhappy or even happy with their existing phone - GET THIS. if they really improve the speed, it will dust off Android and iOS.

    IOW - GET THIS PHONE. You'll thank yourself.
  • halcyon - Tuesday, March 15, 2011 - link

    1. Last year's CPU and really tired GPU
    2. Performance that is sub-par against the best of breed - from last year
    3. Battery life that is not up there for a hard core use business phone
    4. Windows Phone 7, which is still so behind and needs the Mango update to start to shine

    Pass. Thanks for the right form factor Dell, pity about the wrong selection of innards (hw) and the OS (WP7).

    Maybe the next iteration, with Android, please.

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