The Dell Streak is based on Google’s mobile operating system on a 1 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor with 528 MB of RAM. This is a combination that gives this tablet phone very good performance — you’re almost never going find yourself waiting for something to process.
But there’s a hitch: this device launched with Android OS 1.6, a version that’s almost a year old and is well behind the current one. This means the Streak is missing full support for voice recognition and the pinch-to-zoom gesture, though a few apps offer these features. There are also a number of third-party apps that won’t run on this older version.
The Streak’s lack of the latest version of Google’s operating system is definitely a drawback, but it isn’t a crippling problem. Fortunately, Dell is hard at work to bring Android OS 2.2 to this model.
The main reason I don’t often miss a newer version of the OS is because Dell has created it’s own user interface for the Streak — a UI that I think is an improvement, if not a huge one. It adds a few enhancements without significantly modifying the standard user interface.
The only drawback to this custom UI is that it’s landscape only. Virtually all apps support portrait and landscape mode, but the homescreens just offer the one.
This tablet phone comes with 16 GB of storage in the form of a removable microSD memory card. You have the option of switching this out for a 32 GB card if you want more storage and are willing to spend the money.
Wireless and Call Quality
Dell built a wide variety of wireless features into the Streak. In addition to support for AT&T’s voice and 3G service, this model sports Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.1. plus a GPS receiver.
AT&T’s 3G network provides fast data transfers when you’re on the move, but you can get even faster Net access by connecting to a Wi-Fi hotspot.
You can also make voice calls, but this really isn’t this model’s forte. Incoming calls sound fine, but callers report that this device tends to clip offthe beginningsof words I speak.
There’s also the size issue — you might want to use a headset whenever using the Streak as a phone.
The Dell Streak makes an outstanding device to take on a business trip when you don’t need the full power — and hefty bulk — of a laptop.
It comes with a demo version of TouchDown, a very good app for synchronizing your Android OS model with Microsoft Exchange Server. It syncs mail, contacts, calendar, and notes, letting keep in touch with the office and your clients and customers when you’re on the go.
However, as I mentioned this is a demo, so you have to pay $20 to use it after a 30-day trial period. And it doesn’t integrate with the Android OS dialing app, so you have to make you business calls from inside TouchDown.
The Streak is also bundled with the lite version of QuickOffice, which let’s you view Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files, as well as PDFs. If you want to edit them — something quite possible on the 5-inch, high-resolution display — you’ll have to pay $20 for the full version.
If you’re just looking for a way to keep track of your calendar and address book, you can use the free apps that are part of the Android OS. These tie into Google online services, so you can make changes on your tablet phone or with a web browser on your desktop.
On thisdevice’slong list of features is a GPS receiver. All you need to do is use the free Google Navigation app and you have a very good in-car navigation system.
In addition to being very useful, the Streak can also be a lot of fun.
The 5-inch screen makes it a better option for watching a movie on a plane than any other smartphone, though not as good as something like the iPad. Just keep in mind, you have to convert and pre-load your movies.
Its music player is quite good — in addition to all the basic features, it lets you create playlists and view album art.
This device can automatically synchronize its music and video files with Windows Media Player. Whether you consider this good news depends on how you feel about Microsoft’s desktop multimedia app. Or you can simply connect the Streak to your PC, mount this device as a removable drive, and manually transfer your music and videos.
Another area where the large, high-resolution screen comes in handy is when reading ebooks. I installed the free Kindle app, and was quickly reading my latest purchase from Amazon. Given its size, the Streak is similar to reading a paperback book.
This tablet phoneincludes a 5-megapixel auto-focus camera on its back, and a front-facing one for video conferencing.
The rear-facing camera takes fairly decent pictures. Most of the ones I took came out looking fairly good.
The Streak has an LED flash, but it’s quite weak. In my tests, it wasn’t capable of making a dimly lit object close to the camera bright enough for a good picture.
This device comes with a nice addition from Dell: a set of image editing tools. It’s not Photoshop by any stretch of the imagination, but you can sharpen, crop, resize, and make other tweaks.
The front-facing camera is clearly intended for video conferencing, but the Streak does not come with any software that can handle this.
Given it’s large screen, I expected the Dell Streak to have a short battery life, but I was pleasantly surprised. It’s actually decent — not great, but decent.
It usually gets me through a day of average use without needing a recharge — that includes push email from two different sources, some web browsing, and maybe a phone call.