The Grand(ish) Experiment, 1st day in

Just a quick post here. The docking stations and cables for the Dell Venues arrived today and I wanted to post my first impressions.

In terms of the hardware, it is surprisingly solid. It’s very weighty and feels like a quality piece of kit. Docking the tablet is easy, it goes smoothly in and out although I think it would be better if the dock had the guiding lugs like the keyboards have but with the docking station it’s just the dock connector that holds that tablet on. You can twist the tablet on the connector a little which feels a bit scary when you first notice it.

The dock itself has three SuperSpeed USB 3 ports, an HDMI port, a DisplayPort and a USB 2.0 Fast Ethernet (100 megabit only) port. The tablet is charged by the dock when it’s plugged in.

We bought a DisplayPort to DVI and a DisplayPort to VGA adapter to go with it as well as an HDMI to DVI cable. The HDMI cable worked as expected but the DisplayPort to DVI cable didn’t. Looking further at the spec of the cable that we bought, it appears to be a passive adapter and for a passive adapter to work, the port needs to be a DisplayPort++ port and I don’t think the port on the is. I think we would need an Active adapter instead. The VGA adapter works though so I’ve been using that.

It all seems to work nicely but there is something of a quirk. The tablet has a 10.8″ 1080p screen. This means that it has a rather small dot pitch and to use the tablet’s desktop comfortably, you need to turn scaling on. When you plug the tablet into the dock with a standard DPI monitor attached to it, Windows attempts to run one level of scaling on one monitor and another on the other but this isn’t entirely successful. By the looks of it, Windows seems to run the screen at the scaling level of the main display across all screens but resizes and resamples the contents of the windows which are on the higher/lower DPI screen. This makes the contents of the windows look rather blurred. It also does strange things to the taskbar and the chrome of the windows, they are either really tiny or really large depending on which screen is nominated as your primary when you log on. I probably haven’t explained this very well, it’s quite hard to describe.

Otherwise it’s more or less like using a standard Windows 8.1 desktop. I will say it’s nice to have a third screen on which your email client and helpdesk can sit on their own while the “real” work stuff can sit on the other two.

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