When Microsoft announced plans to support 7- and 8-inch tablets with Windows 8.1, I was intrigued by the prospect of a miniature Windows machine. I’m a big fan of Apple’s iPad mini, and the idea of having a Windows tablet with touch-optimized and desktop apps only piqued my interest further. An 8-inch tablet might not seem like the perfect host for desktop apps, but combined with an external monitor, keyboard, and mouse it sounds very appealing. In a sense, an 8-inch tablet is the perfect representation of what Windows 8 could be — ultra-mobile, but productive when you want it to be.

Dell’s Venue 8 Pro brings together Intel’s latest Bay Trail processor alongside an 8-inch HD display for just $299.99. This small package is effectively a full Windows 8 PC that can power desktop apps. It’s one of a huge number of similar tablets coming from Dell, Lenovo, Toshiba, and others, aiming to show that Windows 8 is more versatile than anyone thought. Acer’s 8-inch W3 proved the idea could work, but its rushed, bulky device with a terrible display left it as little more than a tech demo. Dell thinks the Venue 8 Pro is something much more.

Could Dell’s miniature tablet replace the iPad mini with Retina display in my bag, and power even more of my digital life from its 8-inch display? I spent a week finding out.