Dell is joining the likes of Acer, Lenovo and Toshiba in introducing a Bay Trail-powered, Windows 8.1 small form factor tablet. The Dell Venue 8 Pro is now available for pre-order priced at $299 with an estimated ship date of October 25 but how does it stack up against the competition?

Dell's latest will ship with a quad-core Intel Atom Z3740D Bay Trail chip (codenamed Silvermont) rated at up to 1.8GHz. This anticipated processor is said to offer performance that approaches the company's lower-end mainstream Core processors.

Elsewhere, the Venue 8 Pro packs 2GB of single channel DDR3L-RS 1600MHz RAM, 32GB of flash storage and an 8-inch IPS display with a resolution of 1,280 x 800 (189 PPI). There's a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera and a 1.2-megapixel shooter up front and for an extra $34.99, you can get Dell's optional Active Stylus. With Windows 8.1, however, this accessory might not see a ton of use unless you plan to do a lot of note taking or the like.

Compared to the competition, the Venue 8 Pro looks like a solid deal. It's $30 cheaper than the Acer Iconia W4 and the Toshiba Encore and priced at the same $299 as the Lenovo Miix2. All three slates use the same Bay Trail processor and an 8-inch, 1,280 x 800 display and all come bundle with Office Home & Student 2013.

Ultimately your decision will come down to styling preference and supporting features like camera megapixels and optional accessories. Either way you slice it, however, the 8-inch tablet market is more appealing now than ever as we head into the lucrative holiday buying season.