The Dell Streak has been out for a while now, and despite the lots of initial complaints about its usability (it’s gotten so ridiculous people have nicknamed it the Steak, and seriously, like the iPad, the thing had it coming :-), it’s been selling pretty well for such a niche product.
And it’s definitely aimed at a narrow niche: people who want to have everything in one small, ultra-portable (even pocketable) device, which would still be more useable than a usual smartphone with a 3-4 inch screen. The only thing that comes to mind when I think of that is the old Nokia communicator series, which ended with the E90.
It’s definitely a hard niche to fill, but the Streak does a great job at it. The latest 2.2 update added a lot of new great features (like Flash support, compatibility with MS Exchange and the ability to use better input options like Smart Keyboard Pro and Swype) and made it much faster and easier to use. A lot of people actually love the device, believe it or not.
Rumors of a more standard tablet-like Streak have been around since the original has been released, and just last month, Dell has announced the Streak 7 and 10 tablets, which are basically oversized versions of Streak (i.e. they look almost identical, like the iPad/iPhone 3Gs) with 7 and 10 inch screens, respectively. These 2 newcomers will take on the iPad and Galaxy Tab, but the 7 inch version will definitely be more popular, judging by what people say.
Here is a short review of the Streak, and by extension, the Streak 7 and 10, which are very similar on the outside, with the differences being in the hardware and the screen size.
The Streak looks like your average full touch smartphone when it comes to style, except for one thing: it’s huge! You definitely won’t be able to fit it in most pockets, which leaves you bewildered as you’re thinking “It’s not quite a smartphone…. and not a tablet either…” :-). The good thing about the size is that it makes it easy to hold and work with what’s on the screen. The device is pretty thick and heavy, and it doesn’t look great when you use it to call someone. I think the best way to use the phone feature is by using a Bluetooth headset. The build quality is simply great, with no flexes and mismatches present – Dell has really put a lot of work into this.
The screen size it what makes the Streak unique: it has a 5 inch 800×480 display, which makes it much easier to edit documents, surf the Web and use just about any app out there, compared to other Android smartphones with the same resolution and even the iPhone 4 with its 960×640 pixels. The capacitive screen is responsive, though the 1.6 version of Android (which itself is outdated) was pretty badly implemented. The 2.2 update fixed most of the issues people were complaining about. The Streak 7 is supposed to have a larger 7 inch screen, and a 1024×600 resolution, according to rumors. Of course, the screen is protected by Gorilla glass – the most durable and flexible scratch resistant glass in the world.
Processor, RAM and Graphics
Under the hood, the Streak has a pretty standard, yet still decent 1 GHz Snapdragon SoC with 512 MB of RAM, which should provide enough performance for any app you might need to run – and that’s all that can be said about it. The Streak 7 and 10 should have a faster CPU (maybe even the NVidia Tegra 2), but it’s entirely possible that we’ll see the exact same specs on it, too (they’re really enough for any apps and most tablets, just look at the iPad).
There are 2 GB of ROM on the Streak, which is plenty considering most users won’t use more than 512 MB. This space is exclusively for the OS and all your apps. Dell also includes a 16 GB micro SD card for all the data you might want to store and use. The good thing about having an external card slot is that you’ll be able to upgrade it later, and 64 and even 128 GB micro SD cards are said to be coming next year. I think we should expect the same storage specs from the Streak 7 and 10, with maybe more onboard memory (4 or even 8 GB would be nice).
Other Hardware Specs
Other hardware specs are pretty standard: you get Wifi N support, Bluetooth 2.1, HSPA of 7.2/5.76 Mbps download/upload, GPS, accelerometer, a 3.5 mm jack for headphones, and other useful things. The Streak 7 and 10 could have Bluetooth 3 and USB-OTG support, if Dell decides so. Of course, there are 2 cameras on the Streak: a VGA front facing one for video calls and a nice 5 megapixels one on the back, which also allows for 720p video recording, in addition to taking quality pictures.
All Streaks run the Android OS and feature Dell’s custom skins, named Stage UI, which makes it easier to organize and launch apps, although I’m not sure it was entirely necessary (it would be great if it is removable, unlike the Motoblur from Motorola, which is not). The 2.2 version of Android should provide enough features for everyone, but the Streak 7 and 10 will most likely get the 3.0 update, as it is designed for tablets and will be out at about the same time, possibly a bit later.
The Streak is definitely an unconventional smartphone/tablet hybrid, which does find its customers in the narrow niche it’s meant for. A 4 inch screen would’ve been perfect, I think, but Dell has that covered with the Thunder. The Streak 7 and 10 are more conventional tablets, and should provide a great competition to the iPad, Galaxy Tab and other tablets on the market.