Multimedia, Software and Performance
The Dell runs on the Qualcomm Snapdragon QSD8250 CPU clocked at 1GHz with companion GPU. It has 512 megs of RAM (ample for Android) and 512 megs of user accessible flash storage plus 2 gigs non-accessible flash memory where the OS and built-in apps are stored. The Streak ships with a 16 gig microSD card in the slot under the battery door. Despite running an older version of Android rather than the super-speedy 2.2 OS, the Streak is a responsive Android tablet, and it should certainly fly with 2.2. The 668 benchmark score using Quadrant was just OK but not stellar thanks to the older OS version. We expect to see a several hundred point improvement with Froyo. 3D games like Reckless Racing run smoothly on the Streak.
Dell customized Android in some cases to make up for deficiencies in OS 1.6 (writing a driver to support pinch-zooming in some apps, bundling a trial of Touchdown for MS Exchange sync), and in others to enhance the big-screen user experience. The dialer is a two pane affair with both a number pad and contacts listing, and contacts are enhanced with shortcuts to email, SMS, call and more. Instead of a hardware home button we have a ubiquitous apps link in the menu bar and a two stage applications listing (a pre-defined quick pick list of commonly used apps followed by all apps). Tapping on the notification area provides notification and battery info. All in all, we like Dell's tweaks that don't add unnecessary eye candy and instead add features and organizational tools. The upcoming Froyo 2.2 upgrade will introduce Dell's slick Stage UI used on their touch screen all-in-one PCs. If you don't like the Stage UI, you can disable it and go with a standard Android experience.
A 5" tablet format phone begs to be your portable video player, and the Streak didn't disappoint. It handles YouTube HQ using Google's player just fine (sorry, there's no full Flash until Froyo) and locally stored videos ripped to suit the display's resolution played well. The speaker is very loud and clear. You can use the included stereo earbud headset as well.
GPS and Battery Life
The Dell Streak has a GPS and compass, and both were very accurate in our tests. The compass worked so well that we used it for walking directions without fail. The tablet ships with Google Maps, Navigation and Places and Navigation includes spoken turn by turn driving directions. Thanks to the large display and loud, clear speaker, the Streak is a wonderful stand-in for a dedicated in-car GPS. Google's directions are solid these days, and the robotic female voice is certainly artificial but easy to understand. We particularly like the way Navigation handles arrivals: once you're within 30 feet or so of your destination, Navigation tells you that you've arrived and switches to a street view of your destination to help you identify it.
The Streak is an Energizer bunny thanks to excellent CPU optimizations and the 1530 mAh battery. Generally a device with a 5" display and 1GHz CPU doesn't have good battery life, but the Streak easily outlasted our Samsung Captivate and other high end Android smartphones. In a typical day that involved an hour of calls, working with email throughout the day, using the web browser for an hour and playing a few YouTube videos, the Dell easily lasted us a day.
It's hard not to love the Dell Streak unless you prefer smaller, voice-centric smartphones. It's not only a voice phone but a tablet with a 5" display that makes for a better Internet and multimedia experience than 4" and even 4.3" Android smartphones. Unlike the Samsung Galaxy Tab, it's pocketable, you can hold it to your head and make calls and you can use it as a phone (US Galaxy Tabs don't do cellular calls). This versatile tablet is gorgeous looking and speaks of quality. The battery door is fussy until broken in (get it completely in place or the device won't power on, or will power off if the door dislodges) though. If you need a pocket computer and Internet device first and a phone second, the Streak is enticing at $299 with contract. We can't wait to see what Froyo brings!
Price: $299 with a 2 year contract, $549 with no contract