Dell Streak Android Tablet Review

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The Dell Streak is a device that doesn’t quite live up to its specs. Other than decent battery life and very good throughput performance, everything else (CPU, graphics, and JavaScript performance) pretty much lagged behind other comparable devices.  That said, these performance shortcomings may be addressed by a simple update of the Streak's aging Android 1.6 OS.  Android 2.2 (Froyo) could allow the Streak to really stretch its legs.  And of course, we use the words “comparable devices” loosely, as there really aren’t any other full-featured, 5-inch Android phones or tablets on the market. With its 5-inch screen, the Streak straddles the fence between phone and tablet—never really landing squarely in one camp or the other. It’s a fully functional phone, but its size and weight don’t lend it well to easy portability. Its larger-than-other-smartphone screens gives it the advantage when it comes to screen real estate; but it still can’t compete against the current heavy-weight tablet contender, the Apple iPad. Finally, its nearly $300 subsidized price tag is certainly higher than what you’d pay for nearly any other Android smartphone right now—even the Samsung Epic 4G will sell for $249.99 (after a $100 mail-in rebate).

Conversely, there are a lot of things to like about the Streak. The screen and speakers are perfect for watching movies and listening to music. The front-facing camera is a nice touch, and will prove useful once more apps (besides fring) become available that can take advantage of it. The large-size onscreen keyboard is also a convenience that will make keyboard mashers everywhere happy. The bundled Windows sync and backup software makes it super-easy to make sure that all your data stays synchronized. We were also very happy to see a generous 16GB MicoSD included with the Streak.

There’s something bittersweet about the 16GB MicroSD card, however. Yes, you can load it up with movies and music. But knowing that Froyo and its ability to install (compatible) apps directly onto the SD card is waiting somewhere in the wings, feels almost like a taunt. In our daily grind as tech journalists, we frequently fill up the internal memory on our Android smartphones and have to perform app triage in order to decide what can get tossed so as to make room for the next app we want to install and evaluate.

We might be in the minority for that complaint—not everyone is an app-hoarder like we are. But what Froyo also promises to bring is the performance jumpstart that the Streak desperately needs—not to mention Flash support for that gorgeous 5-inch screen. Until Froyo is available for the Streak, we find it difficult to recommend it currently—especially when we know there are less-expensive, comparable Android devices available... Though none of them have jumbo five-inch screens.  Should Dell release their promised Android 2.2 update in the near future, our view of the device could change dramatically.

  • Great-looking 5-inch (800x480) touchscreen
  • Speakers produce crisp-sounding and loud audio
  • Comes with a 16GB MicroSD card
  • Front-facing camera
  • Large-size onscreen keyboard with numpad
  • Android 1.6 (Donut)
  • Expensive
  • Disappointing CPU, graphics, and JavaScript performance (likely due to Android 1.6)
  • Lackluster camera image quality

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