Dell Venue Pro Users – New F/W Report

Okay, let’s be honest for a second. The Dell Venue Pro, to me, was the nicest looking Windows Phone on the market and the only one that didn’t hotdog anything from previous android/windows mobile devices (as evidenced by my initial thoughts here. However, since then, the DVP has a myriad of issues; specifically the wifi bug and some other issues indicated here. So what’s happened since those two articles on opposite ends of a proverbial spectrum? To the user, not a lot has happened especially since the main critique is how Dell has handled user concerns. But, to Dell, a lot is happening. Keep reading if you want to see what’s changed and how that has impacted you as a venue pro user

Since the previous writeup

Since the writing of the articles, Dell has worked with Microsoft on solving the Venue Pro issue. Many users across the web have demanded an updated device with a new firmware (the .206 firmware). However, much to users’ dismay, the problems still weren’t solved. And, of course, Dell has gone back to start working with Microsoft and a few users have been given the opportunity to beta test the device and put this thing through the proverbial ringer to see what works, what doesn’t, what needs to be improved, so a good user experience can be given before releasing the updated DVP.

What I’m not going to report is the build number because it’s a bit arbitrary. From the time the few beta testers are testing the new firmware to the time it will be released on the market, a lot of things can change. What I can say is that the firmware is still nodo – no sweet mango tasting treat here. Despite the lack of sweet mango goodness, there is still a lot of things venue pro users should be pretty satisfied with.

Huge Change – Wifi Works!

To begin with, the wifi issues have been solved and it looks like the wifi problem is solved on all memory models. Some users with 8 gig venue pros stated that their device worked out of the box with wifi while some 16 gig (and new 32 gig users) have reported wifi is absolutely terrible and freezes the device. I’ve been using an 8 gig beta model and other users have been graced with 16 gig models and we have each come to the conclusion that wifi, no matter what the memory size is, doesn’t crash anymore. That in itself is a huge change considering that wifi has been an issue since the first Dell Venue Pro has been released in November.

Better Signal – Yes

Another change is the signal. For T-Mobile users, reception has been incredible and in some areas of Chicago, I got H! One main issue with the .206 firmware was the battery was draining much faster due to the constant search of signal and switch between Edge and 3g. The switch between the respective signals has not caused as much of a battery drain versus .206 and the signal in itself has been very strong. On the .206 firmware, I dropped calls several times a day. I had a three and a half hour conversation and my call didn’t drop; not even in the busy Chicago subway. I could never do that with any previous DVP. As a result, the call quality has been somewhat clearer to the point of asking the people I’ve called to move the microphone away from their face because I could pick up everything on their end. Also ‘lo and behold, there are no more signal drops when going from G -> E -> 3g (that’s a huge battery drain)

Yahoo Mail Bug – Solved

A strange bug that was noticed on the .206 firmware was Yahoo notifications. The live tile would indicate that mail was there but if you go to the lock screen, on some models, the yahoo notification would not come up. Luckily, that has been changed. I can say that I have synced with my yahoo and everything is working famously for receiving yahoo notification. For yahoo users, this is a large kudos!

Camera Updates

A huge overhaul is the camera. On previous DVP models, the options were limited to Photo Resolution (sitting pretty at 5 mp or 2592 x 1944), ISO Gain (Auto/HUR), White Balance (Auto) and Scene mode (Off). The new firmware brings 3 extra options: metering mode, exposure compensation and anti banding. Metering mode refers to how the camera determines the exposure. The DVP now offers 4 different metering modes: Frame Average, Center weighted (which I find takes the best shot), spot, and center upper weighted. Exposure compensation adjusts the exposure in a photographic exposure meter to consider variables that causes the exposure to make a less than stellar image. The exposure Compensation rating ranges between +1.7 to -1.7 with the default setting at 0. Finally, banding is the pattern of lines that become visible in some shots creating a digital artifact. The DVP now has measures against that with turning the antibanding on or turning the antibanding off. Although, not all tests have been conducted with the camera, but they surely will be.

Benchmark Comparisons

 

The big question is save from those things, what else has changed? To answer that question, I had to go through a few benchmarks found in the Marketplace to indicate how the two firmwares compare/contrast with each other. The results are very interesting:

Using Benchmark free

Dell Venue Pro Beta

Linpack Benchmark:
Mflops: 34.825
Seconds: 2.41
2.22044604925031E-16

Mflops ca: 34.825

Whetstone Benchmark:
1. 110 cycles, 10983 ms
2. 120 cycles, 11774 ms
3. 130 cycles, 12743 ms
4. 140 cycles, 14292 ms
5. 150 cycles, 16158 ms
6. 160 cycles, 16193 ms
7. 170 cycles, 17024 ms
8. 180 cycles, 18597 ms
9. 190 cycles, 19450 ms
10. 200 cycles, 21832 ms
Number of Runs 10
Average time per cycle 109.515 ms
Average whetstone rating 9138 KWIPS
Average whetstone rating 9 MWIPS

SciMark2a:
Minimum runtime for each test is 2 seconds
FFT: 21.43 – (1024)
SOR: 86.43 – (100 x 100)
Monte Carlo: 17.04
Sparse MatMult: 38.14 – (N=1000, nz=5000)
LU: 26.28 – (100×100)
Composite Score: 37.86 MFlops, 37.86 MFlops ca.

Fibonacchi:
Time to execute: 13259 ms

Towers Of Hanoi:
Time to execute: 1965 ms

Sieve:
Time to execute: 995 ms

Dell Venue Pro Firmware .206 7355 nodo

Linpack Benchmark:
Mflops: 35.077
Seconds: 2.39
2.22044604925031E-16

Mflops ca: 35.077

Whetstone Benchmark:
1. 110 cycles, 9158 ms
2. 120 cycles, 9941 ms
3. 130 cycles, 10842 ms
4. 140 cycles, 11752 ms
5. 150 cycles, 12676 ms
6. 160 cycles, 13554 ms
7. 170 cycles, 14449 ms
8. 180 cycles, 16747 ms
9. 190 cycles, 16290 ms
10. 200 cycles, 17170 ms
Number of Runs 10
Average time per cycle 91.32921 ms
Average whetstone rating 10956 KWIPS
Average whetstone rating 10 MWIPS

SciMark2a:
Minimum runtime for each test is 2 seconds
FFT: 28.32 – (1024)
SOR: 112.71 – (100 x 100)
Monte Carlo: 20.03
Sparse MatMult: 37.82 – (N=1000, nz=5000)
LU: 32.91 – (100×100)
Composite Score: 46.36 MFlops, 46.36 MFlops ca.

Fibonacchi:
Time to execute: 11554 ms

Towers Of Hanoi:
Time to execute: 767 ms

Sieve:
Time to execute: 798 ms

Using WP Benchmark

Dell Venue Pro Beta

CPU: Sequential and Parallel
sequential: 10894 ms
parallel: 10604 ms

Data: Memory and Storage
memory: 13.07 MB/s
storage: 0.42 MB/s
time: 97442 ms

GPU acceleration / fillrate
681 frames
avg: 22 FPS

Dell Venue Pro Firmware .206 7355 nodo

CPU: Sequential and Parallel
sequential: 10894 ms
parallel: 10462 ms

Data: Memory and Storage
memory: 13.07 MB/s
storage: 3.56 MB/s
time: 14994 ms

GPU acceleration / fillrate
681 frames
avg: 22 FPS

Benchmark Summary

 

I think this is where things get interesting because as indicated from the benchmark tests, the nodo firmware outperforms the beta tested firmware I am using in almost every single category! The results in itself are surprising, but again any user is reminded that benchmarks may not mean that the device performs better in normal usage. From my personal experience, while the DVP running 7355 outperforms the beta firmware, the beta firmware feels far snappier than any DVP I have used. Fable Coin Golf and other games were a chore to use because the DVP was so slow in running those programs, but the programs run as smooth as my former Samsung Focus without microsd card! That feat in itself is amazing. On a hardreset of the DVP running 7355, however, the games don’t play nearly as well and the OS isn’t nearly as responsive.

So it was the SD Card…

 

What caused the initial problem with the DVP that led to so many changes and firmwares? Well the answer is something that many users have known for a while and has been verified offhandedly. The main problem was the Microsd card driver or bad microsd card. To be honest, it was more bad microsd card. Now, before a lot of users give a premature I told you so, it took some time to get to the root cause as well as admitting that the main issue was the microsd card. However, as some users have reported, the microsd card fix has its limitations and may not solve all of the issues the DVP has. So knowing one of the major culprit is a kudos, knowing that it was something the internet has known for a while is a bit priceless. This doesn’t mean that users should fly out, buy new microsd cards, void warranty, because that action could lead to more issues and nonfunctioning units. This is PSA but also very true – hold tight, keep your warranty, don’t swap the microsd out.

So when will we get the update?

 

The main question on the minds of users at this point is when the new update is coming and does it fix all issues. That question is a difficult one to answer. There is still some flash exposure issues on the camera and there will be no antishake feature like on the Samsung Focus (with arguably the best camera on windows phone) because of hardware limitations. Currently, some issues are still prevalent with connecting to bluetooth as well. As of right now, the dialog with Dell has been a bit more positive versus talking with customer service representatives and that gives the beta group some hope that the bluetooth and camera problems will be solved as much as possible to create a good experience.

At the conclusion of this article, it has been three days since I have personally used the device. I can say that, while the benchmarks don’t do this update justice, users in general will notice more stability in day to day operations. Far less dropped calls, fewer times of overheating (it still occurs on intensive processes, such as downloading -> installing a program while on the phone or playing a game) and the big thing wifi WORKS. On some trials, I notice that wifi also worked under lock screen and screen off, but the moments that wifi occurs are sporadic at best. Performance is good and your phone will feel very new after the firmware update comes out.

Of course, this leads to the question of when the firmware will be released. Days, weeks, months, next year? It won’t be next year, but it also won’t be tomorrow or next week. If I were a betting man, I would say next month tops, if everything goes smoothly. I know this is going to sound weird of me to say, but to put away those burning sticks and get out of angry mob. Dell is actually working to get a solution out to benefit all users. Just give it time.



About Author

A clinical psychology student that loves smartphones and the evolution of the smartphone platform since 2003 and the first smartphone I ever owned.