The Dell Venue series isn't new by any measure, but the unveiling of the 11 Pro 7000 hybrid goes to show that Dell still has plenty of tricks up its sleeve. It's beat Microsoft to the punch with Intel Core M technology but, oddly, the Pro 7000 isn't slimmer than the Surface Pro 3.
Dell's hunt for slender devices seems to be developing into a theme. First at the Intel Developers Forum 2014 Dell unveiled the world's slimmest tablet was on stage - the Dell Venue 8 7000 - and now the Dell Venue Pro 7000 is hot on the heels of that, as shown off at Dell World 2014.
Intel Core M is an integral element to the 10.7mm thick Venue 11 Pro 7000 because it's a fanless chipset. No fan means less bulk. Indeed at that scale it's only a few tenths of a millimetre thicker than a smartphone like the Moto X (2014). But compared to the Microsoft Surface Pro 3, which measures 9.1mm, it's slightly chunkier.
To call the Venue 11 Pro a tablet in the traditional sense would be a stretch, though, given its 10.8-inch screen size. But it is a gorgeous screen, delivering a Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixel) resolution panel with ample viewing angles and plenty of punchy colours from its Windows 8.1 interface.
We've swiped and tapped our way around the operating system with ease. Dell claims "all day battery life" to last from between eight to nine-and-a-half hours, assuming Wi-Fi being on at 65 per cent screen brightness. We're yet to drain the battery given our limited use, but that sounds like an ample period to cover a working day without the need to seek out a wall socket.
The Venue's 742g weight may also sound like a bit of a chunk in tablet circles, but considered as a device with a full-size USB port - if only there was more than one - it's in-line with laptop-replacement material. It felt light to us as we were arranging it in various photo shoot positions.
A laptop replacement it can be too, thanks to a magnetic dock system to the base to easily attach a keyboard. As you can see in our photo gallery the rigid keyboard structure (sold separately) arranges a laptop device - and it's easily separated back into tablet mode via the central lock button.
Interestingly all Dell Latitude peripherals of a like-for-like scale will fit the Venue 11 Pro 7000, so if you have an older device and fancy updating to something snazzier and slimmer then that could cut that part of the cost out. A very shrewd move.
However, Dell hasn't opted for a built-in stand to the rear of the device, so those lightweight keyboards (a la Surface) aren't a consideration because the tablet can't stand up on its own. To our eyes its designed to be used as a laptop replacement through and through really.
The 11 Pro 7000's build quality is solid - it has to be at this thickness to ensure rigidity - but not as altogether epic as the Surface Pro 3's look and feel. Dell's use of a rear plastic shell does the job, but that enterprise company thought process isn't going to dabble in as premium materials or multi-colour options. The 8-megapixel camera housed in a light-grey-on-dark-grey flourish is about as exciting as it gets.
The Dell Venue 11 Pro 7000 will be released in configurable forms, with 64GB through to 256GB SSD storage options and 4-8GB RAM on board, along with LTE 4G capability in specified devices. The two-tier release schedule will see the lower-power model available from 11 November, while the slightly beefier Intel Core M 70 unit will see the light of day from 15 January 2015.
Perhaps Dell needs to blow its trumpet more. We've seen but a handful of such Core M devices, and this is one of our favourites in an 11-inch form factor. And after seeing the clickety clapity Microsoft Surface TV advert that left us scratching our heads in a “what the heck was that about?” manner, the straightforward Dell approach quietly shows off what matters.
What it all comes down to is price. Although there's no official stance just yet, we suspect Dell will undercut Microsoft's position. The fight is on.