Dell Streak 7 Android Tablet Review

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User Experience & Interface

The Dell Streak 7 runs Android 2.2, commonly known as "Froyo." Unlike the upcoming Android 3.0, also known as "Honeycomb", Froyo isn't a tablet oriented OS. However, Dell has tried to overcome this issue by skinning it with their own Stage UI. Both Froyo and Stage can also both be found on the Streak 5 and remains largely unchanged for the Streak 7.

Dell Streak 7 Stage UI

The Stage UI is comprised primarily of a series of Stage widgets. These widgets are large and each have an individual purpose such as displaying your emails or music, with the notable exception of the Home widget which displays a combination of recently used apps and the weather. Another interesting feature of the Stage UI is the way it displays the edge of widgets on neighboring home screens. You can see the edges of the widgets and content of the home screens to the left and right of your currently active home screen.

Overall the Stage UI isn't bad, it certainly never felt like it got in the way. We liked the design of the Stage widgets and found some of them to be quite useful. However there is no avoiding the fact that the Stage UI simply isn't a very fast Android launcher. It's actually a bit more sluggish than the stock Froyo launcher. Transitions between screens simply weren't as smooth as they could be and it made the Streak 7 seem slower than it needed to be, especially when compared to something like the iPad. Luckily installing a 3rd party launcher like ADW or LauncherPro speeds things up dramatically. We installed LauncherPro and scrolling between screens was buttery smooth.

It's worth noting that the performance of the launcher does not effect the rest of the device, nor does it interfere with the performance of apps. It's just unfortunate that the Stage UI makes the Dell Streak 7 seem a little slower and less powerful than it really is.

   
Dell Streak 7 Stage UI App Drawer (default apps)

The Dell Streak 7 comes loaded with a number of apps, other than the usual set of official Google apps like the Market and Gmail. Pre-installed on the Streak 7 is the AccuWeather.com weather app, Quickoffice productivity app, Qik video chat, the Kindle app, Zinio Reader app, Slacker radio, and the Blockbuster app.

Also included are several T-Mobile applications like T-Mobile TV, T-Mobile Start Up and T-Mobile My Device. These apps let you set up and manage aspects of your T-Mobile account as well as access the T-Movile TV streaming service. T-Mobile has also included a Wi-Fi hotspot app for setting up a hotspot on the Streak 7 and Dell has included a Welcome app which displays a quick tutorial on using the device.

For entertainment, GameLoft's popular premium 3D racing game Asphalt 5 and golfing game Let's Golf are included. The Zoodles kids portal app also comes pre-installed and it offers a game and apps portal specifically tailored for young children. Lookout Mobile Security's app is included, though the user will need to set up an account before it can protect your device against malware and theft.

   
Dell Streak 7 Web Browser (landscape & portrait)

The Dell Streak 7 uses the stock Android browser which is Webkit-based and works well. The browser felt snappy on the Streak and all the usual multi-touch functions were present and available. Zooming was smooth and pages load very quickly for a mobile device.

Overall the Dell Streak 7 is a pleasant device to use. It functioned as well as any Froyo device and although the Stage UI isn't the smoothest, it never seemed to hold us back that much. However, don't let the Stage UI fool you, the Streak 7 is a very powerful device, as we're about to find out in the benchmarks on the next few pages.

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