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Need to Knows about the Dell Venue 8 Pro with Plugable Products

UPDATE 5/20/2014: We have solved the issue of charging while using USB devices!

Please take a look at our Kickstarter Announcement of the Plugable Pro8 Docking Station with Charging for Venue 8 Pro: http://plugable.com/kickstarter

When we first learned of Dell’s plans to release a full Windows 8.1 mini tablet we were excited to see what would be possible from such a small device. Unlike Windows RT tablets limited to running Windows store applications and unable to load device drivers, the standard x86 architecture of the Intel Bay Trail Atom in the Venue enables access to the broad ecosystem of Windows device drivers and applications developed before Windows 8′s Modern or “Metro” UI and Windows store came to be.

Upon receiving one of the first units to ship from Dell we immediately wanted to find out if we could use an OTG (on-the-go) cable to connect external USB devices to the Venue through the single female USB Micro B port normally used for charging. Fortunately the Venue does have OTG support! With the help of the OTG cable, a UD-3000 dock, and three USB3-VGA adapters, we turned a tiny 8″ Windows 8.1 tablet into a full blown desktop workstation with four monitors, full-size keyboard and mouse, gigabit Ethernet, and more. Unfortunately, there are a few drawbacks to be addressed- most notably that there is no way to charge the venue while it is docked- read on for need to know technical details.

We decided to make a YouTube video showcasing the Venue along with some of our products such as the Plugable UD-3000 USB 3.0 Docking Station and the Plugable USB3-VGA USB 3.0 to VGA Adapter. Our video went viral among tech enthusiasts, even attracting the attention of Michael Dell himself who retweeted our video stating “Sweet demo of the Dell Venue Pro 8″.

For those who have not yet seen the video:

While the Intel Bay Trail platform supports USB 3.0 internally, the OTG connection is limited to USB 2.0. However, the biggest issue is that because the Venue has only a single female USB 2.0 Micro B port, you can’t charge it while using OTG devices. A work-around for this with other tablets is an OTG “Y” cable that connects both a charger and USB device at the same time. Sadly, this does not work with the Venue.

The Venue has to see special signaling on the USB data lines to initiate a charge, something that an OTG Y cable cannot do. This limitation means than once the battery runs out, you have to stop working with all of your accessories and revert to just the tablet itself so you can charge it.

There are several DIY hacks that will enable charging with USB devices connected but most are not for the faint of heart. The easier hacks require a menagerie of adapters and is usually not very practical. At this time, here at Plugable, we are working on an OTG all-in-one dock solution for the Venue that will allow charging while using USB devices without the need for any DIY hacking, but we do not have any information on when such a solution will be available to the market.

For some users, the inability to charge while using USB devices is not enough reason to avoid using Venue as a desktop replacement. For those users, we have a list of items to make this a better experience.

Battery Life

When using a dock with the Venue, the dock itself is powered from its own power adapter and will not draw any extra power from the Venue battery. If using any non-powered device with the Venue, it will draw extra power and battery life will drop. Whenever possible, we suggest using a dock or powered hub to connect USB devices.

When using any DisplayLink adapters, battery life will drop faster whether or not the adapter is actually connected. Currently there is a known issue where the DisplayLink drivers cause the Intel HD Graphics to not enter a low power state, even while the Venue is in sleep mode. The battery drain is about 6% per hour compared to only about 1% without the DisplayLink software. Currently the best way around this issue without uninstalling and reinstalling the DisplayLink software between use is to just disable the “DisplayLinkManager” service when not in use and enable it when needed.

Update: 3/28/2014 – DisplayLink has released a new driver, 7.5 M1 – 2/27/2014, that solves the power drain from just having the DisplayLink drivers installed. There are a few key points to mention however. With 7.5 M1, we recommend to not disable the Venues built in screen while using DisplayLink attached screens or else the mouse pointer may disappear.

Update: 4/30/2014 - The mouse pointer issue has now been corrected in 7.5 M2 and the latest 7.6 M0.

Here are some tips to maximize battery life:

  • We suggest disabling the automatic brightness feature:
  1. Open the settings from the charms bar.
  2. Click “Change PC settings” at the bottom.
  3. Click “PC and Devices.”
  4. Click “Power and Sleep.”
  5. From here you can toggle “Adjust my screen brightness automatically.”

You may then adjust brightness as you see fit. However, when using with an external monitor, we suggest turning the brightness of the Venue to the middle to lowest setting to prolong battery life.

  • Disable any unnecessary programs at startup from the “Startup” tab in the Task Manager.
  • Turn off any 3D intensive screensaver. Instead, use the Windows power management settings to allow the Venue to turn off monitors after a defined period of inactivity.
  • Try to run virus scans, maintenance scans and the like only while charging.
  • If using a dock with built-in audio, connect speakers or headphones to the dock and not directly to the Venue.
  • When using a dock, connect to the Internet through the Ethernet connection if possible, and avoid using Wi-Fi.

Multi-Monitor Support

The most important thing to know about using the Venue with multiple monitors is that increasing the number of monitors, combined with the increasing the resolution of the monitors, decreases overall performance. Currently, we recommend no more than two monitors running at a maximum of a 1920×1080 resolution. In our video we ran four monitors at 1280×1024 which is a similar overall configuration in terms of total pixels. For a dual monitor setup we recommend our UD-3900 dual-head docking station.

HD video playback is a question that we get often. Unfortunately the Venue just isn’t powerful enough to playback HD 720p & 1080p YouTube videos on an external DisplayLink attached monitor.

Issues with mirror mode–We have had mixed results using the Venue in mirror mode. We do not have a clear understanding as to why it works for some and fails for others. At this time we cannot recommend using any of our USB display adapters for a mirroring application. We suspect it has to do with the Intel HD Graphics drivers and/or display settings on the Venue not working properly with DisplayLink based adapters. It could also be an incompatibility with the touch screen or automatic gyroscope rotation settings. Extended desktop mode works just fine and this is what the majority of users will want.

Miracast is also non-functional when the DisplayLink drivers are installed.

Performance

There are several ways to maximize performance for use as a desktop workstation that include optimizing a combination of Windows settings on the Venue.

First of all, freeing up space on the SSD is especially critical for 32GB Venue users, because the tablet comes from the factory with less than half of the SSD free. This severely limits what programs can be installed and how much user data can be stored. We recommend uninstalling any pre-installed applications that are not needed, however, we strongly recommend leaving the pre-installed Dell software alone, as it may cause issues if removed. The Venue does have a Micro SD card slot capable of supporting a 64GB card, however, speeds are highly dependent on the SD card and will be far less than the built-in SSD. Installing programs to the SD card is not recommended unless speed is not important for that program. Instead, the SD card should be dedicated to data storage for files.

The biggest factor for improving performance is maximizing the potential of the SSD drive in the Venue. To attain higher speeds the built-in drive encryption in Windows 8.1 must be disabled. If encryption on your Venue is not important, we highly suggest this change as it will make your computing experience much more enjoyable.

Increasing the speed of the SSD not only increases how fast programs will open, but it is also a major factor in overall performance. This due to the fact the Venue only has 2GB of memory and has to create a page file on the SSD to act as virtual memory if and when the real memory runs out. For power users who multitask this is a critical factor. Adjusting the page file settings can also help. We recommend that virtual memory be set to “System managed size” on the SSD (C: drive) and if a Micro SD card is present, to also have a page file there as well (as long as this SD card will be permanent storage in the Venue).

  • To disable Windows 8.1 disk encryption feature follow these steps:
  1. Open “PC settings” from the Start menu.
  2. Click “PC and devices.”
  3. Click “PC Info”
  4. Click “Turn off” at the bottom of the page.

Gaming

Some have asked about the gaming potential of the Venue through our USB graphics adapters. Here are our thoughts on the subject:

USB graphics devices are “virtual” devices where much of the heavy lifting is done in the CPU, by hooking into the graphics stack. The DirectX APIs used by games assume direct hardware access (a PCIe graphics card). DisplayLink’s drivers attempt to emulate as much of the functionality as possible, which is why some 3D functionality (like that needed for desktop and apps) works.

We don’t recommend running games with USB graphics, because this emulation cannot be perfect. Even without specific compatibility problems, performance will always be a challenge–the extra CPU work required for USB graphics will cause reduced frame rates and other problems. Normal desktop and application use is fine because they don’t push the system as hard as 3D games do.

Common problems experienced when trying to run a game on a USB graphics adapter include: games not launching, games crashing, screen flickering, and/or the screen going black.

All of these issues are especially important to consider for the Venue due to its limited processor, memory, and graphics abilities, compounded by the fact it will be running off of the battery.

What about the Lenovo Miix 2 and the Toshiba Encore 8? (And Other Bay Trail Tablets)

While we do not have all of these tablets to test in our office, they appear to be based off of the same Intel Bay Trail reference design and will likely have the same limitations as the Venue 8 Pro. We also suspect non-reference design tablets like the Bay Trail based ASUS T100TA and the Dell Venue 11 Pro 5130 will face these limitations as well.

Update: 3/28/2014 – We now have a Lenovo Miix 2 in the office and can report functionality between this tablet and the Venue 8 Pro are identical with the use of our DisplayLink based products.

Update: 3/31/2014 - We now have an ASUS T100TA in the office and are extremely pleased with this unit in our testing so far. It has a standard USB 2.0 Micro B port that supports OTG just like other Bay Trail tablets but it also has a Micro HDMI port. Most importantly when docked with the keyboard base, there is a full sized USB 3.0 port — this is great because when docked, you can charge through the Micro B port while connecting external USB devices, something none of the other Bay Trail options we’ve tested so far can do.

I have been using the T100TA with one of our UD-3000 docks connected to the USB 3.0 port with a 1080p screen attached to the dock and another 1080p screen attached directly to the Micro HDMI port. The performance of this unit compared to the Venue 8 Pro is much better without the limitation of USB 2.0 only for connectivity.

Update: 4/30/2014 - We have uploaded a new YouTube video showcasing our UD-3900 dock with the ASUS T100TA:

We received some attention from ASUS North America as well!

Capture

Update: 4/30/2014 - We now have a Acer Iconia W4 in the office and have been able to quickly test a Toshiba Encore 8 and can report functionality between these tablets and the Venue 8 Pro are identical with the use of our DisplayLink based products.

Suggestions?

Let us know of any Venue 8 Pro tips you have in the comments below!

63 thoughts on “Need to Knows about the Dell Venue 8 Pro with Plugable Products”

  1. Why do you say extended mode is what most users want and not mirrored. If I don’t have mirrored mode I don’t see my desktop and I want to be able to use my desktop with my larger monitor.

    I tried the Netgear and SIIG solutions (using DisplayPort drivers) and I returned them both. The Miracast function on the Netgear has screen orientation problem meaning the screen is 90 degrees off and not useable and the mirror mode still doesn’t work correctly, even after the updated driver. My new LG Smart TV does a better job at Miracast than does the Netgear box, but the orientation is still a problem. I don’t know if it is a Microsoft, Dell, or Intel problem but I hope it gets fixed.

    Thanks for the newsletter addressing these issues! I know I had called you about using the Venue 8 Pro with your products and also asked about the power issue. If you can get the charging to work correctly you will definitely have a sale here.

    1. I feel the same about mirror mode. A workaround for this is to go to your device, and set the bigger display as your primary monitor. The extended mode can be confusing sometimes because it will launch some programs in the other display.

      1. Agreed. A quick tip about applications launching on the other screen: try the hotkey shift+windows+left arrow or right arrow. It will quickly move an application from one screen to another.

  2. I was encouraged to buy the Dell Venue 8 Pro because of the video by Plugable showcasing how it can be turned into a workable desktop. I looked into several Plugable products and decided to give the UGA-3000 a try just to test my first sale experience with Plugable. I ignored their emails for the feedback on the product so this is my feedback – it works smoothly. Also I like how you shipped the product – fast and secure. Anyway while using it I discovered that I couldn’t use the keyboard, my external hard disk as well as my external optical drive if I used an unpowered USB hub. I tried using the cheap powered USB hubs in my area (Philippines) but they were so inconsistent. So I decided to buy the UD-3000 and test it.

    The UD-3000 was really great to use! It works perfectly with my DV8P and it felt like a more useful device because you can just plug in practically any USB peripheral devices. I didn’t find still having the UGA-3000 redundant because I know I’m gonna use it should I try multiple monitors. The only problem I have with the whole setup is the mirror mode display. Maybe we’ll discover what causes it not to work properly someday but for now, extended mode is fine with me.

    The shocking discovery I had with it is the fact that I can’t charge while using the USB. I played Warcraft 3 with it but could only enjoy around 5 hours of gaming. I did research about this issue. Some people have successfully created a workaround by employing a switch in the OTG connection that toggles between charging and data modes for the USB. As an electronics engineer I feel like I can make one for myself but since I’ve stopped practicing this profession because of my business in genetics I don’t have the confidence anymore as I might damage my devices in the process. I would rather buy a working solution.

    I’ve also contemplated on getting the DV11P instead because that one can charge while making the USB port usable for something else. 2GB of memory and 64GB of disk space with BayTrail is enough for my needs. I am more satisfied with the 8 inch form factor though. I feel it’s perfect already.

    I wish Plugable can make a working solution. In fact it can be integrated with their awesome USB hub solutions. I feel like if that can be realized, even Android tablets with OTG suport will also benefit.

    One more thing – if it’s possible for you to design the next generations of UDs to be flat, that would be awesome. I always bring my UD everytime I travel for business because I know it will be useful as a USB hub as well but I don’t find the form factor portable enough (I understand that it’s designed as a desktop companion). Had to buy a special bag to carry it with me. Would it be too biased if I request for a BayTrail device solution that integrates universal display capability, powered USB hub and charging while using USB feature. I hope this idea can be turned into a profitable proposition on your part. Thanks and more power! :-)

    1. No, unfortunately, that won’t work. There are several problems, including that USB “B” ports aren’t support to allow 5V backvoltage to host. Also that devices choose how much to pull, and most won’t try to charge unless they recognize “their charger”. The Dell Venue 8 Pro needs shorted data lines before it will charge. In combination, it means no simple setup will do it.

      1. The shorted data lines is where the switch on the cable comes to play. I doubt that a minor modification to the unlink port to allow the 5v along that line, maybe involving a simple switch there. So a couple minor modifications and you’d have a working solution for the V8P and the other 8″ tablets.

    2. The issue is not about USB 3.0 or USB 2.0 power. It is related to downstream vs. Upstream data/power. The challenge is to have the USB power connecting as a power supply (upstream) at the same time as the USB data connection is connecting to the tablet (downstream) so you can connect peripherals etc. at the same time as you power the device. See +Port on Kickstarter as this has been designed and is working as a product.

  3. Correction due to autocorrect:

    The shorted data lines is where the switch on the cable comes to play. A simple microUSB connected to a phone charger (iphone block) charges the Dell. I think a small modification to the uplink port to allow the 5v along that line, maybe involving a simple switch there, can allow the Dell to charge directly from the dock. So a couple minor modifications and you’d have a working solution for the V8P and the other 8″ tablets.

  4. Looks like people have been successful using a cable with Data / Charge switch. The trick is to hook up the charger and have switch in charge until tablet starts charging, then you can hook up the dock and switch to data. Then the tablet stays in charge and allows use of the USB devices.

  5. Just change the USB 3.0 Standard-B to a USB 3.0 Powered-B port and sell a Data/Charge cable with a MicroUSB 2.0 male port on one end and a USB 3.0 Powered-B male on the other side. Then wire the cable properly to send the power over. Shouldn’t be too difficult or expensive of an endevour, and it would make you the “Go to” solution for small tablet users everywhere.

  6. With the new Lenovo THINKPAD 8 coming out soon with Micro USB 3.0, is there a way we are going to get power to the host machine while plugged into a USB dock?

  7. Great video on the Venue Pro. I will be buying a hub shortly. One question though, what is the stand you’re using in the video?

  8. Any updates on the charging? It’s the only thing stopping me from buying one.

    Are there any good instructions on making the cable that “shorts the lines” with a switch, or does someone make them already?

    Thanks
    RC

      1. oops, I just found your post…i’d also posted about the kickstarter +port project. needs to be funded by end mar

  9. Disable “DisplayLinkManager” service when not in use cannot help the drain battery problem. The only help is uninstall the displaylink driver. Please help investigate it. It is really annoying!!

    1. Hello Chan,

      In our internal testing this method has worked for us, battery life increased significantly after disabling the service.

      Please make sure you are running the latest version of the DisplayLink software (7.5).

  10. Please fix the battery drain problem with the Venue Pro.

    The battery problem is so severe, there is little point in installing or using any Plugable product

  11. I have the 3900 and it works great. Like many others, I look forward to a solution to the charging issue.

    Is there a program or app we can put on the start page to toggle the DisplayLinkManager on and off?

  12. I love my DV8P and UD3000 setup! For folks who are having mirroring issues when using an attached monitor as a primary, ick the display icon in the notification area, click the Plugable UD-3000 menu and choose “Notebook monitor off”. This kills two birds with one stone. It kills the display on the tablet and makes the external monitor primary. You’ll also want to turn of auto-rotate in the video setup menu. Some things (like UAC pop ups) will still make it rotate and do screwy stuff which may require an undock, but it works.

    1. Just to clarify, they’ve got the tablet plugged into the switchable data cable, which is in turn plugged into a USB Female to Micro USB Female+Male adapter, with the female plugged into power, and the male plugged into a USB Female to Micro USB Female adapter, and are getting data from that USB Female port to the tablet, as well as power from the AC charger. http://forum.tabletpcreview.com/dell/59328-venue-8-usb-power-same-time-38.html#post370108

  13. I few things to add here:

    - I can confirm that using a data/power switch cable does indeed allow you to charge the device while using a hub. Just search for ‘usb charge data switch cable’. Combine this with a USB Y cable and you’re good to go.

    - I would advise you to stick to the 7.4.x DisplayLink drivers for now. CPU utilization is whey higher for me using 7.5.x drivers.

    - To conveniently control the ‘displaylinkmanager’ service just create a couple of batch files which contain the following:

    net stop DisplaylinkManager
    &
    net start DisplaylinkManager

    ..and run as administrator as needed.

    1. Yes – exactly. That will work. Just note that you’ll get just a couple hours of battery life out of the Venue 8 Pro (since you won’t be able to charge at the same time), but that’s enough for the presentation. Email support@plugable.com anytime if you hit problems. Thanks!

    1. No Android support, sorry. Installable drivers are required, and only Windows (standard, not the RT version) has the necessary support.

  14. I just found out that kickstarter has a +port project that will allow the charging receptacle to both charge and connect a usb device. it’s funding drive will end the latter part of mar. i’m a backer now and hope it gets the funding it needs!

  15. I have a Lenovo Miix2 8 along with several Pluggable Products including UD3000 – I will give this a try – I am curious if using it with UPD3000 – is keyboard and mice supported. I am also curious how fast is network speed compared to wifi – current solution I have for development is to use VNC – no plans to put development tools on it.

    1. I just got the UD3000 working on my Lenovo Miix 2 8. I had issue with Tablet’s Wi-Fi – once I got it updated and connecting with drivers it runs more smoothly with 23 in monitor connected. Keyboard and Mouse.

      Work related – what would be really cool is a very flat battery back that can charge the tablet – that could be plug into small docking station. We are looking for such a solution to extended battery life.

      But such an option could double if the small docking station could not only charge the tablet – but also interact with UD3000. Or even replace it with ports on bottom of the dock.

  16. It’s possible to set up a nice desktop environment with the UD-3000 & Dell Venue 8 Pro with charging.

    You will need the following: ( I’m supplying Deal Extreme part #’s because that’s where I got mine )

    1. 175368 – USB Female to Micro USB Female Adapter – Black
    2. 205901 – CY U2-166 USB Female to Micro USB Female + Micro USB Male Adapter Cable – Black
    3. 241044 – USB Male to Micro USB Male Charging Data Cable w/ Switch

    All told.. around $9 + shipping

    Layout:

    DV8P -> [3] -> [2]

    [2] is a Y cable that splits into 2 sub-cables: 2a & 2b

    [2a] -> [1] -> UD-3000 main USB connection
    [2b] -> UD-3000 any USB port, I plugged into 1 of the 2 USB 3.0 ports

    When you plug [3] into the DV8P, you need to have the switch on [3] set to “Charge”

    Once you see the charging icon on your DV8P, then you can switch to “Data” where everything you’ve connected to the UD-3000 will connect to the DV8P and the DV8P will continue to charge normally.

    Hope this helps :)

    PS the only issue we’ve seen is that we aren’t able to mirror the display onto the 42″ tv we’re using as a 2nd monitor but my wife’s not too critical about that.

    1. Has this continued to work well for you? Are there any glitches I should be aware of before trying your technique?

      BTW, the prices on Deal Extreme are still about what you said above. All 3 items above cost a total of $8.25 with free shipping.

      Mike

  17. I purchased the Plugable USB3->HDMI adapter, and it works great (except for the mirroring not working, as mentioned).

    MIRACAST
    I was able to get Miracast to work while having DisplayLink still installed (I didn’t read this article until after testing out my two setups with the wired and wireless connections to the displays). I purchased this HI763 Miracast HDMI receiver from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IAIJOKG/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pd_ttl?_encoding=UTF8&colid=1QLB1H4LYLC38&coliid=I346FTATAMHM7B. However, while I am able to get the Miracast to work fairly consistently with my Sharp 46″ at home, I cannot get Miracast to work on Samsung LCD TV displays. I have not tried uninstalling DisplayLink to test.

  18. Hi Bernie,
    any news about an all in one docking Station including charging for the Venue 8 ?
    Regards
    Patrick

  19. I have a question, I hope that you can help me. If I buy a slimport, can I conect to the tv? Or if I buy a OTG and conect to a hdmi-usb?

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