While the Dell Venue 8 Pro is a wonderful Windows 8.1 mini-tablet, I noted in my review that the device ships with its display overly dimmed. This change artificially bumps up the device's battery life but makes it almost unusable. Turns out it was in error, however, and a new software update fixes the problem and lets you see the Dell display in all its glory.
Here's what's happening.
In Dell Venue 8 Pro Review, I wrote that this device is a "balanced, well designed PC companion device running the much-improved Windows 8.1." But "Dell ships the Venue 8 Pro with the screen brightness set to "auto," and the results are dim and hard to view." You can fix this through the PC Settings or Control Panel interfaces in Windows 8.1, of course, but I suspect many users would have a hard time doing so.
Since then, Dell has shipped a number of updates for the Dell Venue 8 Pro. Two are worth mentioning:
Ambient Light Sensor Settings for Dell Venue 8 Pro 5830. According to Dell, this update "optimizes ambient light sensor settings for better performance." But what it really does is make the default "auto" brightness setting on the device actually work. That is, you can leave it on this default setting and the screen is now much more visible and readable, since it adapts correctly to the lighting in the room. It's possible that installing this update will improve the real world battery life a bit from the 5+ hours I was seeing with this setting disabled.
Dell Venue 8 Pro 5830 A04 BIOS. The latest BIOS update for the Venue 8 Pro was released less than two weeks ago, and it's almost certain that the BIOS in your own Dell needs to be updated. BIOS updating is so much easier now than it used to be, and you can run this update from within Windows normally, as you would any other update. It comes with a number of fixes, including improved power management functionality.
If you do own a Dell Venue 8 Pro, also be sure to run the My Dell desktop application occasionally and keep it up to date. You can use this application, which is preinstalled on the device, to run system checkups and grab new drivers.
I may end up testing the battery life again to see if the ambient light sensor fix changes anything there, but I can say this after a day of using the update: It has improved the display brightness immeasurably and made the default auto brightness setting truly usable. I recommend installing it immediately.