Dell Streak Android Tablet Review

Article Index

User Interface & Quality

Out of the box, the Streak’s main home screen has five icons on it and a Google search box. The icons are for the Browser, Google Maps, Phone dialer, Android Market, and a Getting Started guide. There are three additional home screens accessible by scrolling left or right. The home screen to the left is empty, while the first home screen to the right has icons for Contacts, Messaging, and Gmail. The home screen furthest to right includes a Facebook widget and icons for the Camera, YouTube, Amazon MP3 Store, and the default Music player.

Home screens
(click to enlarge)

At the top of all of the home screens is the Status Bar, which includes an Application button, Carrier name area, Notification area, Status area, and Date and time area. Tap the Application button to see all of the installed apps. At the top section of the apps window is a Favorites Bar, where you can add up to seven applications. Tap the Carrier name area to add additional home screens and to see a list of recently run applications. The Notifications area is where all system and app notifications appear, such as missed calls and new e-mails. The Status area displays system status icons, such as battery life and network connection signal strength. Tap the Status area to access the device’s settings. The Date and time area displays exactly what you would expect it to—the date and time. Tapping the Date and time area doesn't do anything.

Default apps (left); phone screen (right)
(Click to enlarge)

One benefit to the large-size display is that the buttons on the phone screen are rather large and easy to press. The phone screen automatically switches between landscape and portrait mode, depending on how you hold the device. When you bring the Streak close to your face to make a call, the proximity sensor turns off the display and disables all touch input. The Streak actually felt very comfortable in our hands and cradled against our faces during calls. We also found call quality to be excellent—all parties found the connection to be very clear and natural sounding. That said, we did experience a number of dropped calls; but that was more likely a function of the AT&T service in the New York area.

Browser (left); on-screen keyboard in landscape mode (right)
(Click to enlarge)

The large display also makes browsing the Web less of an ordeal than it can often be with devices with small screens—especially when viewing Webpages that have not been optimized for mobile devices. As you can imagine, the large screen also means a large onscreen keyboard. When the Streak is used in landscape mode, the keyboard includes a dedicated numpad; the numpad doesn’t appear when you hold the Streak in portrait mode.

Video playback (left); the camera screen (right)
(Click to enlarge)

Video playback also looks great on the Streak’s bright and crisp display—it’s difficult to tell from the screenshot above, but you’ll have to take our word for it. Audio sounds clear and can get surprisingly loud, coming out the speaker on the bottom of the device—even when the Streak is laying flat on a surface. As you would expect from such a small speaker, there is no bass response at all.

Sample photo shot by the Streak (left); the Dell PC Suite's Sync Manager (right)
(Click to enlarge; note that that image on the left is the full-size image pulled directly from the camera)

One area where the Streak doesn’t do so well is as a camera. The camera utility is easy enough to use to capture stills and video, but the resulting image quality leaves much to be desired. You might put your expectations in check when considering the quality of images captured by this type of device; but we’ve consistently seen noticeably better-looking images captured by other smartphones.

The Streak comes with the Dell PC Suite (stored on the device’s MicroSD card) for synchronizing the Streak with Windows PCs and for backing up the Streak. You can synchronize contacts, calendar entries, tasks, and notes between the Streak and Outlook. You can set conflict and delete policies, and even set the Streak to automatically sync whenever it attaches to your PC.

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