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Tech Report – Dell Streak
By Paul O’Reilly
We know the iPhone is a smartphone and we know that the iPad is a tablet computer. But what are we to call the Streak, Dell’s terrific new multi-purpose device which goes on sale tomorrow?
Tech review site CNET
starts off by referring to the Streak as “the first Android tablet
worth taking seriously” but ends up admitting that the Streak’s size
puts it on the fence between a tablet and a smartphone. Other reviewers
also refer to the Streak as a tablet but the majority of discussion
boards beg to differ, claiming that its 5-inch screen is far too small
to warrant the tablet label.
Dell’s own web site offers little
help. It religiously avoids any mention of a tablet or smartphone, as it
proudly promotes its new baby, preferring to describe it simply as a
“device”. Whether the absence of a clear product label will matter to
the man or woman in the street remains to be seen, but I can’t help
feeling that the confusion exhibited in the early press coverage could
well translate to similar confusion among consumers.
the case, it would be a shame, as the Streak offers a blend of power,
flexibility, screen size and affordability that is currently unmatched
anywhere else in the marketplace.
First, its size – and the
reason for all the debate. The 5-inch screen is significantly larger
than all the smartphones currently on the market, dwarfing the 3.5-inch
iPhone and bigger even than the 4.3-inch Motorola Droid X. However, it
doesn’t approach the 9.7-inch screen of the iPad, hence the anti-tablet
rumblings. At 6-inches wide x 3.2-inches tall, the Streak is still small
enough to slip into a coat pocket, which could be a significant
advantage over the awkwardly-sized iPad.
The overall design of
the Streak is excellent, combining a sleek look with a robust,
hard-wearing finish. On the front there are three soft control buttons (
home, menu, back), together with a VGA-resolution camera. On the
reverse side, there is a 5-megapixel autofocus camera with an integrated
LED flash, a small speaker grille, and the cover for the removable,
rechargeable battery. On the bottom edge of the Streak is a USB port,
which can also connect with a separate Dell AV dock for HDMI output.
Android platform provides the Streak with all the features of
top-of-the-line Android smartphones. There is access to tens of
thousands of apps through the Android market and Web browsing, e-mail,
downloads, and refresh speeds are all incredibly fast. Individual and
swappable 32GB memory cards act as almost limitless multi-media
libraries, each holding up to 16,000 songs, 32,000 photos or 42
The Streak is a full-function 3G phone, with
Wi-Fi and built-in Bluetooth. There is video calling capability, as well
as real-time maps and integrated GPS functionality. Unlike the iPhone
or iPad, users can swap effortlessly from one task to another without
shutting down or interrupting current applications.
The one major
reported problem with the Streak appears to be battery life, which is
becoming a bit of an Achilles heel for Android devices. Although the
Streak allows over 8 hours of talk time when used as a conventional
phone, that figure drops dramatically when running multi-media
applications or when screen brightness is increased for outdoor use.
it’s not so surprising that people can’t agree on the Streak’s
classification as a tablet or a smartphone. By combining style, power
and portability, it attempts to satisfy fans of both devices. The fact
that it succeeds so well suddenly makes Dell an important player in an
increasingly competitive marketplace.
The Streak costs $299 with a two-year AT&T contract or $549 without a contract. It will be available directly from Dell from this Friday.