Dell Streak First-look Review

by Reads (21,167)

UPDATE: This preliminary review was written based on a relatively short time with the Streak. A much more in-depth review has now been published based on extensive testing:

Dell Streak Review

 

Google Android OSWhat is the Dell Streak? That depends on who you ask. The sleek, 5-inch slab is both tablet and phone, offering customers the choice of whether to use it primarily as an iPad-esque tablet device or, if they’re brave enough, as a fully-functional phone.

Brighthand just received its review unit, and here are some first impressions. A full review will be published in the near future.


BUILD & DESIGN

As I said earlier, whether this is a tablet computer or a smartphone depends on who you ask. Dell’s intent seems to be that primarily that the Streak is more tablet than phone, and its 5-inch display seems to agree.

Dell Streak Tablet Phone with Google Android OSThat size is an interesting choice, as it offers users a space big enough to comfortably read books and web pages, but in a reasonably portable form factor.

But there’s no doubt, the Streak is going to be controversial. Criticisms have already been leveled at big-screened super phones like the HTC EVO 4G and Motorola Droid X; the Streak takes it to yet another level. That’s one of the reasons why Dell is so hesitant to call this tablet a phone; no one wants to walk down the street with a 5-inch slab stuck to their face.

Despite that, there is a fully-featured phone inside the glossy conglomeration of black plastics and glass. Call quality seemed fine, though I haven’t had a chance yet to really put it to the test. Dell seems to clued in on the fact that despite its tablet orientation, people are going to want to make calls, too; in a current pre-order offering, anyone who picks up a Streak can score a Plantronics Bluetooth headset for just 99 cents.

In Use
The Dell Streak is comprised mostly of glossy black plastic and clear glass. There are a few capacitive touch buttons on the bottom front of the device, and all were responsive. Power, volume and camera buttons are all on the side.

Despite its size and construction, the device feels surprisingly light. It’s a comfortable weight, but with the heft we’ve come to expect from a premium piece of consumer electronics. The build quality is solid; the Streak doesn’t creak or bend. It feels MUCH better than its little brother, the Dell Aero, also coming to AT&T. By comparison, the Aero feels like a toy.

Display
The display is big and bright, and the 800×480 resolution makes things easy to read. If you’re wondering how the resolution and pixel density compares to a number of other recent products, here are a few numbers:

Size Resolution Pixels per Inch
Dell Streak 5 inches 800 x 480 187 ppi
HTC EVO 4G 4.3 inches  800 x 480 217 ppi
Droid X  4.3 inches  854 x 480 228 ppi
Apple iPhone 3GS 3.5 inches 480 x 320 165 ppi
Apple iPhone 4  3.5 inches  960 x 640 330 ppi
Apple iPad  9.7 inches  1024 x 768 132 ppi

While you should probably avoid purposely dropping the Streak, at least you don’t have to worry about the glass shattering the first time — Dell used Corning’s Gorilla Glass to provide a pretty tough experience. It’s the same glass Dell put into this company’s high-end Adamo laptops.


PERFORMANCE

Inside the Dell Streak is a 1 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon CPU. This speedy piece of silicon is the processor of choice in many of today’s leading smartphones. These high clock-speeds have really become the minimum standards in a high-end device; Apple’s iPad uses the same clock in a similar architecture, and even Microsoft is requiring it for the upcoming Windows Phone 7 platform.

Dell Streak vs. HTC EVO 4G vs. Motorola Droid XDell uses the processor to great effect: the Streak feels very snappy. Webpages, even content-heavy ones such as Brighthand.com, loaded quite quickly. The interface itself scrolled quickly from screen to screen.

The Streak will launch with Android 1.6, but Dell will quickly have an update to OS 2.1 out, and has even showed off a fairly snappy video recently of this tablet phone running Android OS 2.2.

There’s a custom skin sitting on top of the operating system that does an admirable job of mixing the difference between a smartphone and a tablet PC. Icons are squared off, and there’s a menu bar at the top that provides access to the Android application drawer, task bar, notifications area, date and time. Unlike the user interface that some manufacturers stick on top of Android, it’s slick.

Switching between screens was nice and fast, with no lagging from transitions. The app drawer came up and closed quickly – essentially, it’s just as fast as the HTC EVO, just bigger.

HTPC… To Go
The Dell Streak comes with a micro-HDMI-out port and Dell fully plans on making consumers aware of how easy it is to connect to an HDTV. While I didn’t get to do the hooking up myself, a Dell rep took the Streak, plugged in a cable, hit a couple of buttons, and video started playing on the HDTV. The whole process took less than thirty seconds. Recently, Dell has been showing off a docking station for the Streak that comes with an HDMI port on the rear.

The Streak supports the following formats right out of the box:

  • video: H.263 / H.264, .3GP, MPEG4, WMV
  • audio: MP3, WMA, AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, AMR, Midi, WAV


PRELIMINARY CONCLUSION

We’ll be covering the Dell Streak in-depth in our upcoming review. There are a few points that can already be said about this smartphone/tablet hybrid.

Dell Streak Tablet Phone with Google Android OSIt’s fast. That 1 GHz processor really seems to show its stuff. Add in 512 MB of RAM and multitasking and webpages shouldn’t be a problem — no doubt Apple is regretting its decision to put just 256 MB of RAM in its iPad at this point.

 

It’s big. A 5-inch display is an interesting feature — while it’s really great for watching videos and browsing the Web(better, even, than the HTC EVO 4G), it’s awfully big. At 0.4 inches thick, it’s thinner than the EVO 4G, but it’s definitely less pocketable.

It’s pretty. Dell isn’t new to the portable electronics game; the company made some of the most popular and stylish PDAs back when PDAs were still the king of the hill. The Streak easily holds its own when compared to some of the other options on the market.

Speaking subjectively for a moment, this is the first time in a while that Dell has really impressed me with one of their portable machines. Renders have already leaked of Dell’s as-yet-unconfirmed 7- and 10-inch Android tablets, and if they’re as good as the Streak, Dell may have another success on their hands.

Be sure to come back to Brighthand.com and check out our full review of the Dell Streak, coming very soon!

Specifications:

  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8250 @ 1 GHz
  • Display: 5-inch capacitive multi-touch
  • Resolution: 800×480 (WVGA)
  • Band support: UMTS 2100/1900/850 MHz, GSM/EDGE 1900/1800/950/850 MHz, HSDPA/HSUPA
  • Memory: 512 MB RAM, 512 MB user-accessible storage, 2 GB non-user accessible for OS + apps
  • Camera: 5.0 MPx rear-facing camera with auto-focus + VGA front-facing
  • Carrier (US): AT&T

 

 

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