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The Dell Streak Tablet
The Dell Streak is one of the first Tablet/Slate devices to be launch official capacity. It’s
a lot smaller than your average tablet and a lot larger than your large touchscreen mobile phone. So the big question is, just where does it fit in? That’s a question I’d like to ask you. Here’s a closer look at the Streak from my perspective but I’d like to know if there are any existing users amongst you readers who would like to share their experiences and opinions on the device.
It’s a slick looking device and I have to admit it’s quite a looker, all dressed in black. It’s just 10mm thick which actually makes it a lot smaller than quite a few smartphones and with a weight of just 220g, I found it comfortable to hold. It’s just a tad uncomfortable if you’re wearing tight jeans, but it fits comfortably trousers. It’s got 2.2GB of internal memory and also supports microSD cards up to 32GB. Although there’s a hot swap under the rear panel for the memory card, the handset will auto switch off if the panel is opened. The 3.5mm handsfree port is located on one side, or the top of the device, since it’s typically supposed to be used in landscape like the Nokia N900. The volume/zoom keys, screen lock and camera’s shutter release are also located on this side.
Dell’s first mistake is incorporating a proprietary UBS/Charging port (bottom) into the Streak. Seeing as it’s pretty much a large mobile handset, it would have been a whole lot simpler on us if they went with a standard micro USB socket, it’s not like there’s a lack of space. Loose this cable and you’ll be hunting for another. Dell has gone with touch sensitive buttons on one side of the display. A microphone is also on the same side. A light sensor and front facing camera (VGA) are located on the other side just near the phone’s speaker. The first time I took a call on this device I near slapped myself in the head because I misjudged the size. I recommend using the handsfree, it’s quite comfortable.
The large 5 inch touchscreen display sports a 480 x 800 pixel display which makes it clear and easy to view even in the bright outdoors.
Features and Performance
Mistake number 2 is launching a device like this with an OS version that’s already outdated. The Streak comes with Android 1.6 and we were told that it’s upgradeable to 2.1 (although I was unable to). We’re past this stage and I’m sure you’ll agree, Donut just doesn’t cut it any more. Éclair has its flaws but its left 1.6 in the dirt a ways back. If you’re removing shortcuts/widgets from the desktop, there’s no click and drag to the Trash option, you’ll have to select the icon and then select the menu button to remove the item. It allows you to create multiple desktops and wallpapers can be set individually to each. The Drop Down menus make it easy to access various options, notifications and settings.
A couple of issues I had with the UI, to start off with was that Multitouch wasn’t a universal function. On any Android 2.1+ handset Angry Birds would allow you to pinch zoom out so you can see just where you’re firing. Thankfully the browser and image gallery allows for multi-touch zooming with out a hitch. It still isn’t as smooth as the iPhone’s but it’ll do. I expected a bit more in terms of speed from the Qualcomm Snapdragon 1GHz processor. It’s not a slow handset but activating apps and opening menus wasn’t as smooth as I had hoped. The keypad could also have been a little better designed. With the num pad on the side it means you’re right thumb is going to have to do a bit of stretching. In portrait mode the Zero and ‘O’ are too close together since the num pad moves above the QWERTY keypad. It’ll take some getting used to.
There was quite a bit of confusion created when I synced my Facebook and Google Accounts with the phonebook. Most contacts that were downloaded didn’t allow me the option of sending them text messages until I synced them with those transferred from my SIM phone book. Strange…
The music player is pretty standard, no great shakes here. It’s loud enough to listen to comfortably in a crowded train and even have a conversation. The problem is, neither the handsfree nor the device’s earpiece provide proper clarity on calls. The volume on calls was just too low most of the time. Other media features include a voice recorder, but no FM radio. Dell has included an MP3 Store application with the Streak that let’s you search fro music files and albums to download for a fee.
The player has no frills except that you can create playlist on the go. Sadly, the Streak doesn’t support DivX or XviD formats you’re going to have to convert videos to play on the device. When converted properly and optimized for the resolution, the viewing experience is not bad at all.
Like any high-end mobile phone the Dell Streak is also well equipped for connectivity. From 3G (HSDPA, HSUPA), EDGE and Wi-Fi to Bluetooth (just version 2.0) with A2DP to USB (proprietary) 2.0 it’s all there. The Streak also comes with support for MS Exchange and regular POP/IMAP accounts. For added functionality of Exchange, Dell has thrown in the TouchDown App with Active Sync support. Browsing the net on the large screen is a bliss and the Android native browser works it out just perfectly rendering pages in a convenient, easy to read format.
Facebook and Twitter widgets are preloaded. While the FB widget worked out just fine, the one for Twitter refused to let me sign in. Images can be easily shred or sent to email accounts, posted on Twitter, FB, Picasa or Flicker with a couple of easy clicks. The Streak also has GPS there’s no pre installed application other than Google Maps and Geotagging for the camera.
There really aren’t any extras thrown in that are worth mentioning. A Sync option for your Outlook Notes and tasks is available, Voice Control (which incidentally works really well) from Nuance technologies and Google Voice Search are on board. QuickOffice is also available.
The 5MP camera on the Streak comes with a dual LED flash and features that including a few scene modes, White Balance, Multi-Shot, Self timer and flicker adjustment top name a few.
Image quality is not bad at all whether it’s outdoors or indoors. Colors remain quite vivid and the details are quite good for a mobile phone sensor.
The Streak is not going to win any awards for its 1530mAh battery. Thanks to its large display, the battery life tends to be a little one sided with more power drainage taking up the larger side. On an average it ran for a little over a day and a half with a just about 3 hours and change of talk time. It’s, on the whole, just about adequate.
The Bottom Line
So here’s the Rs. 35,000 question – should you buy the Streak or go in for a mobile handset like the HTC Desire or a better option in this case, the Samsung Galaxy S? The handsets offer the same functionality as the Streak and more especially with Android 2.2 on board. I say, stick to a handset. And don’t forget the Galaxy S also comes in a 16GB capacity (built in) and it’s even more convenient to carry around.
The Dell Streak just doesn’t fit in, had it come with Éclair and a better pre loaded apps, it could be worth a consideration and on the plus side it’s still smaller than a standard tablet so you could just hold it up to your ear to talk, but it’s really not worth that much of money when a smaller device that does more is easily available.
SO if you're a Streak user, do let me know what your experience has been with the device.
You can also check out a quick view video on the Streak over at our YouTube Page here.