By GeoffreyFarinha | January 25, 2011 1:53 PM
Times certainly are changing. Devices that can boast a larger screen are becoming the current fad. By increasing screen sizes manufacturers hope to fortify users’ ability to multitask and become even more efficient by maximizing usability. Dell has jumped onto the bandwagon by releasing the Dell Streak, an Android tablet device that also doubles as a phone. The 5″ screen certainly creates a long list of possibilities, but will the screen be too big, making the phone cumbersome? Read on to find out!
Here’s the unboxing of the Dell Streak. The box comes loaded with just about everything, besides the soon to be release dock with HDMI out. A 16GB microSD card is supplied, which you may want to eventually upgrade. Dell also provides a protective sleeve.
The Streak is built like a tank. Its metal shell houses a 1GHz processor, 512MB of RAM, and 2GB of ROM, which is up to date with the current Android offerings. Like a majority of newly released Android phones, the Streak is compatible with up to a 32GB MicroSD card. The Streak comes with a 16GB microSD card. Most devices are paired with a 8GB card, so this is a treat.
The Streak has built its reputation by possessing a 5″ screen with an 800 x 480 resolution. As one of the first confirmed devices to take advantage of Gorilla Glass, users can rest assured that their screen won’t scratch or crack too easily. Of course, a screen can only be as tough as the frame it rests on, which in this case is fully metal. The Streak has a powder coated metal feel and truly feels like your holding a brick in your hand (it’s quite solid).
As usual, the typical connectivity options make an appearance-Bluetooth 2.1, WiFi b/g, and GPS. With a device this large, it’s often much easier to take full advantage of a Bluetooth headset or system of some kind. This minimizes having to walk around with an awkwardly sized device held against your head.
The Streak has a very sleek design, with the edges of the screen appearing to extend to the edges of the body. Due to this, it looks very modern. The thin form factor minimizes any negative attention it may get from being so big.
With a resolution of 800 x 480 the Dell Streak’s screen impresses. Colors look vivid and saturated. Images look crisp and sharp.
The left side of the device contains the 30-pin charging port. While it does look strikingly similar to the connector that Apple uses, it is ever so slightly different in its shape. Both the top and bottom of the device taper off and have no distinct features. In fact, the microphone is actually on the front of the phone, just below the screen. The right side of the device is home to the volume rocker switch, as well as a 3.5mm headphone jack, power/lock button, and dedicated camera button. Finally, the 5MP camera with dual LED flash and speaker can be found on the back of the device.
Sliding off the metal battery door complete with the Dell logo uncovers a 1530mAh battery. Beneath the battery are the SIM card and MicroSD Card slots. As mentioned, the Streak comes with a 16GB card and is upgradeable to 32GB.
One great feature of Android is the ability for manufacturers to create a custom skin interface over the Vanilla Android OS. We’ve seen an example of this in the form of HTC Sense on HTC devices.
Dell did a lot of customizing of Android. By creating a custom interface for the Streak, they have maximized the usability of the 5″ screen. Dell’s take on the notification bar adds many more options to the top bar including application selection, battery percentage indicator, and hotkeys for turning on/off functions such as WiFi, Bluetooth, and GPS. Part 1 of our software overview takes a look at all of the cool features incorporated into the custom skin for Dell’s Streak Tablet.
Our second software overview video takes a closer look at a few of Android’s popular applications on the Streak. Performance is quite good and is typically faster than other similar Android phones that pack a 1GHz CPU. The Streak’s 512MB of RAM ensure that there is very little application slowdown to be had. Gameplay wise, the Streak seems to perform just as good, if not better than the EVO 4G running Froyo. Once the Streak gets the Froyo treatment, its great experience will be that much better.
By incorporating a dual LED flash into the Streak, Dell has attempted to increase the ability to take pictures in low light environments. Unfortunately, the flash is extremely weak and acts more as a focused spotlight. The pictures also still suffer from an abundance of ISO noise. Pictures taken outdoors do fair better. But, edges look rigid and sometimes blurry. Overall, the pictures have a soft feel to them and look like they were taken with a camera phone from 4 years ago.
The Streaks front-facing camera gives users the ability to video chat with applications such as Fring and Qik. It also allows users to take pictures of his/her self. Of course, this is a much lower quality camera. Below you’ll find a picture that practically speaks for itself.
The Streak was able to consistently run any application we threw at it without any sign of slowdown. As mentioned above, it performed neck-and-neck with an HTC EVO 4G running Froyo (Android 2.2). It is safe to say that once the Streak gets the upgrade to Froyo, this device will be one of the top dogs in the Android space.
CALL QUALITY/NETWORK SPEED
Call quality over AT&T’s network was very good on the receiving end with zero dropped calls. Numerous callers on the other end commented that voice quality sounded tinny at times. This could have something to do with the “different” placement of the microphone, which is located on the front casing of the phone, just below the screen.
The Streaks battery life is surprisingly above average when comparing it to the many other Android handsets. While it does have a larger 1530 mAh battery, it is important to keep in mind that it needs to power a large 5″ screen. With high use, watching videos, making phone calls, responding to an abundance of email, and browsing the web I easily achieved a days worth from a single charge. With medium to low usage expect to get 1.5+ days of use.
PURCHASING AND AVAILABILITY
+ Large 5″ screen increases usability
+ Gorilla Glass screen is extremely hard to scratch or break
+ Strong metal casing
+ Screen displays vivid colors
+ Above average battery life
+ Very fast and responsive
- Large 5″ screen sometime makes the device cumbersome in the pocket
- Android 1.6 stock
- Home screen is landscape only (modification is possible)
- Speaker sounds garbled and “underwater”
- Somewhat small keyboard considering the large screen size
- Camera quality is poor
- Flash is of little to no use
Overall, the Dell Streak is a fantastic device. If you’re looking for a work-horse device that will get you through your day of composing and replying to email, browsing the web, catching up on news, or whatever it may be, the Dell Streak is the device for you. The Streak will definitely fit the needs of many business centric users out there. The ability to fit more widgets and icons per home screen goes a long way.
The Streaks biggest Pro is also its biggest Con. The 5″ screen is either hit or miss when defining if it’s cumbersome, or something you’ll get used to. The fact that it is sold with Android 1.6 installed also slightly takes away from the coolness factor. With that being said, Froyo will be out in the near future (patience is a virtue).
Lastly, the poor sound quality of the speaker is a big issue. Once this device starts rolling out we’ll see if this was specific to just our device or if Dell dropped the ball across the entire line.
If you can get by the size, (or welcome it) the Streak is a great device with amazing functionality. I give the Dell Streak 4/5.