Hands on with Dell Cast: Put Android on a monitor, but only with a Dell Venue tablet

The Dell Cast lets you put whatever is on your Dell Venue tablet on a monitor, but mirroring performance is laggy.

Most of the gear that Dell has revealed at IFA 2014 is business-oriented. The Dell Cast is no different.

That’s not to say there isn’t anything unique about the Dell Cast itself, though, which caught our eye when we met with the PC giant leading up to the big show in Berlin.

The Dell Cast is a Google Chromecast-like dongle that you can plug into a PC monitor’s HDMI port. Once plugged in, it mirrors your Dell Venue tablet via a companion app for Android. Unfortunately, it only works with Dell’s Venue series of slates.

Related: Dell Venue 11 Pro review

Dell is framing the Dell Cast as a productivity partner, but will it hold up during your work day? We went hands on with the Dell Cast, and here’s what we think.

Setup

Setting up Dell Cast is pretty easy, and requires just a few steps.

We plugged the Dell Cast into a monitor’s vacant HDMI port. Doing this brought up a Windows 8-like Dell Cast welcome screen, which prompted us to ask Dell whether there’s a companion Win 8 app to go with it. There isn’t.

Navigating through Android on a desktop monitor is pretty much second nature when using the Dell Cast.

Then, with a Dell Venue tablet in hand, we navigated through its apps library, and opened the Dell Cast companion app. The app was installed onto the tablet we used, but you’ll have to download the freebie from the Google Play store yourself when you’re setting it up.

Related: Dell Venue 8 Pro review

With the Dell Cast app opened, it only took a couple of seconds for our Dell Cast to show up in a list of available devices to connect to. Then, all we needed to do was hit a green “Connect” button. A few seconds later, the monitor in front of us started displaying the stuff that was on the Dell Venue tablet. Thankfully, you can rename your Dell Cast so that it’s easier to tell multiple units apart.

If your mouse and keyboard are wired, we hope that your monitor has at least one USB port, because you’ll need someplace to plug into to take full advantage of what the Dell Cast offers.

Thankfully, the Dell Cast has a USB port on the back, so that takes care of one item. If your peripherals are wireless, and your wireless USB transmitter hooks up to both of them, then you’ll be in the clear. We doubt that most businesses upgrade their monitors frequently, so this could be a problem.

Performance and experience

With a keyboard and mouse plugged in, navigating through Android on a desktop monitor is pretty much second nature when using the Dell Cast. Just re-imagine your Android home screen as a desktop-like experience.

Instead of swiping and tapping, you’ll be mousing and clicking around to access different screens and menus. If you’re familiar to Windows (and we bet that most people in the workforce who use computers on a daily basis are), then the Taskbar you’ll find at the bottom of the Home screen will offer a familiar touch. You should have no trouble using the blown up version of Android that Dell Cast provides you with.

Unfortunately, we experienced a fair amount of sluggishness when switching between different screens, opening and closing apps, and when typing as well. It often took about half a second for our letters and numbers to show up on-screen when typing in an Excel-like spreadsheet app. That can be a nuisance, especially for people who work and type quickly.

Conclusion

Seeing the stuff stored on a tablet mirrored onto a monitor is pretty cool, and that can be valuable to someone who would prefer to carry a tablet and a dongle around instead of a laptop.

However, that’s assuming that a notable number of people are using Venue tablets for work to begin with. Tablets, which lack keyboards, are just not built for work. Dell Cast is strictly for people who use their Venue tablets to get stuff done during the work day.

Related: Dell Venue 8 review

As we said earlier, Dell Cast isn’t compatible with any other slates aside from the company’s Venue series. Digital Trends didn’t get any indications from Dell that this will change any time soon either, which is a shame.

Also, Dell informed us that Dell Cast will work with its Windows-based versions of Venue tablets as well, though not until sometime later this year.

At $79.99, Dell Cast is a bit pricey. However, if you’re a Dell Venue tablet devotee, and it’s frequent 9-to-5 companion for you, Dell Cast could be a valuable addition to your productivity arsenal.

Dell Cast is available starting today.

Highs

  • Easy set up
  • Lets you use Android on a desktop monitor
  • Adds desktop-like features to Android UI
  • Supports screens up to 1080p
  • Has a USB port

Lows

  • Sluggish mirroring performance
  • Only works with Dell’s Venue tablets
  • Doesn’t work with Dell’s Windows Venue tablets yet
  • If your mouse/keyboard are wired, your monitor needs a USB port
  • Somewhat pricey
Computing

Former Microsoft intern claims Google may have sabotaged Edge browser

Google's Chrome web browser has been able to establish such dominance that Microsoft is abandoning its web rendering engine, switching Edge over to Chromium, but did Google play dirty in an attempt to force Microsoft to make the decision?
Computing

Asus ZenBook 14 UX433 vs. Dell XPS 13

The Asus ZenBook 14 UX433 has some incredibly tiny display bezels, in an effort to jam a 14-inch notebook into a 13-inch chassis. That pits it against the Dell XPS 13, the icon of small clamshells.
Gaming

Xbox One X vs. PS4 Pro: Which console is more powerful?

Far from cooling down, the console wars are only getting more intense. We compare Microsoft's Xbox One X to Sony's PlayStation 4 Pro to help you decide which premium console is right for you.
Mobile

Want to watch Netflix in bed or browse the web? We have a tablet for everyone

There’s so much choice when shopping for a new tablet that it can be hard to pick the right one. From iPads to Android, these are our picks for the best tablets you can buy right now whatever your budget.
Gaming

How do Nintendo Switch, Xbox One X compare to each other? We find out

The Nintendo Switch is innovative enough to stand apart from traditional consoles, but could it become your primary gaming system? How does the Switch stack up against the Xbox One?
Computing

ViewSonic’s 1080p gaming monitor lets you experience the action in style

ViewSonic is catering to gamers with its latest monitor, the XG240R. Featuring a 1080p 144Hz panel, RGB lighting, and a fast 1ms response time, you can conquer your opponents and do it in style.
Computing

Here’s why you might still be using Wi-Fi after cellular 5G launches

Cellular 5G might be around the corner and promising to deliver lightning fast speeds, but the folks over at the Wi-Fi Alliance have a few reasons why they think you shouldn't dump Wi-Fi just yet.
Computing

Pinning websites to your taskbar is as easy as following these quick steps

Would you like to know how to pin a website to the taskbar in Windows 10 in order to use browser links like apps? Whichever browser you're using, it's easier than you might think. Here's how to get it done.
Computing

Detangle your desk with a mighty wireless mouse. Here are our six favorites

If you're looking for the best wireless mouse on the market, we've got the list for you!. These six models have something for everyone, whether you're a hardcore gamer or simply looking to ward off carpal tunnel.
Web

Canceling Amazon Prime is easy, and you might get a refund

Don't be intimidated. Learning how to cancel Amazon Prime is easier than you might think. You might even get a partial or full refund on the cost, depending on how much you've used it. Check out our quick-hit guide for doing so.
Computing

Convert your PDFs into convenient Word documents

PDF files are great, but few document types are as malleable as those specific to Microsoft Word. Here's how to convert a PDF file into a Word document, whether you prefer to use Adobe's software suite or a freemium alternative.
Computing

Delete tracking cookies from your system by following these quick steps

Cookies are useful when it comes to saving your login credentials and other data, but they can also be used by advertisers to track your browsing habits across multiple sites. Here's how to clear cookies in the major browsers.
Computing

After rocky start, Windows 10 October 2018 update is finally available to all

The Windows 10 October 2018 update is now available for everyone to download. After a serious bug derailed its initial release, the update is back and users are now able to check for it through Windows Update.
Computing

Sending SMS messages from your PC is easier than you might think

Texting is a fact of life, but what to do when you're in the middle of something on your laptop or just don't have your phone handy? Here's how to send a text message from a computer, whether you prefer to use an email client or Windows 10.