Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Dell Streak is a capable, but small tablet - Electronics

American consumers ready for a tablet one quarter the size of the iPad .We should find out soon, because that's when Dell says its 5-inch Streak will go on sale in the US.

The Streak uses the Android operating system found on numerous smartphones and can serve as a fully-functional, if large, smartphone. But Dell has positioned it as a tablet. An as of now, carriers and plans haven't been announced.

I have a press sample of the Streak, which I've been using for a short time.Based on that experience and my perspective from having used the iPad tablet for four months, here are some preliminary impressions.

Size matters:When it comes to tablets, that's the 600-pound gorilla in the room. The iPad has been criticized for being nothing more than an oversized iPhone or iPod Touch. I've explained why I disagreed with that criticism. Using the Streak has reaffirmed my conviction.

I found the Streak's 5-inch display big (and reasonably sharp) enough for e-mail, quick Web browsing, viewing snapshots, and watching YouTube videos. However, I wouldn't want to be confined to a display that small when reading books, watching movies or TV shows while leaning back (as when flying), viewing landscape photos, or playing action games—not to mention Scrabble.

Keyboard and touchscreen: The Streak's on-screen keyboard (it has no built-in mechanical one) offers a full QWERTY array accompanied by a numeric keypad. So typing a mix of letters and numbers requires fewer key presses than on the iPad, which uses a secondary keyboard for digits.

Software: The sample I used came with Android 1.6, which is nearly two versions behind the 2.2 version of Android now being rolled out to smartphones. One of the limitations of 1.6 is that I couldn't pinch-to-zoom when using Google maps; I had to click an on-screen plus or minus.

Hardware: The Streak had most of the features you'd expect on an Android smartphone, such as Bluetooth, a rear-facing still and video camera (5MP), and a microSD card (16GB). There's also a front-facing camera, though I'm not sure if you can use it for videoconferencing.


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