Too big to be a pocket-friendly phone and too small to be branded a tablet, the Android-powered Dell Streak is a gadget conundrum
Dell may be hawking the Android-fuelled Streak as a multimedia tablet but it’s got more in common with its smartphone brethren than the likes of the Apple iPad. For starters, it can make phone calls, while on paper its 5in display isn’t much bigger than smartie giants like the HTC HD2 and Sony Ericsson X10.
But that extra inch of screen real estate makes a big difference. This expertly made 220g solid slab is too kingsize and heavy for even the most XL of pockets. Also putting the slate up to your face to make phone calls feels utterly ridiculous, failing as a candidate for your primary phone.
But it’s hard not to be impressed with the Streak. The 5in capacitive touchscreen is stunning, vivid and ultra-responsive but its size might rule it out for reading books – unlike the iPad. It’s also made from Gorilla Glass – tough and scratch resistant enough to withstand aggressive pen pokes and in-bag scrapes.
Unfortunately, the Android 1.6 OS is old news but a 2.2 Froyo update, complete with support for Flash 10.1, is expected imminently. The user-interface is also a familiar sight with a drop-down main menu window and notification pane – while you can add up to six sliding homescreens for major customisation.
Beyond personalising the screens with the usual shortcuts, apps, weblinks and folders, Dell has created convenient tailor-made Facebook and Twitter widgets, allowing you to flick through recent messages without leaving the main hub, although you will have to hop online to reply.
The Streak, with its Chrome-based WebKit browser, is a dream for surfing full-fat web pages, loading super-fast over HSDPA, while its multi-touch pinch-to-zoom action is the equal of Apple’s slate. The smattering of embedded movie trailers also shows the Streak's adept at smooth video playback.
Review continues after the break…
Thanks to the supersonic 1GHz Snapdragon processor, the Streak purrs along and didn’t once falter in our test, even under the demands of multi-tasking and marathon web browsing sessions.
The Streak is still the on right side of compact to comfortably use as a camera. A dedicated shutter key fires up the 5MP autofocus snapper and the user interface is intuitively arranged for making quick mode tweaks and accessing previously taken pics.
The lens captures colourful and crisp snaps and although there’s no macro mode, it retains nice detail in close-up shots. For a dual LED flash, illumination is surprisingly weak but posting your snaps online to Facebook and Flickr straight from the camera’s menu system, is a cinch.
The music player lacks any equaliser modes but plug in your own bass-accented earphones via the side integrated 3.5mm headphone jack and the audio gets some flesh on its bones. The Amazon music store is on hand for downloading tunes.
The Dell Streak clearly occupies the space between a smartphone and tablet – a smartlet? – but while it’s more compact and portable than the iPad, it’s still too clunky to make you ditch your phone.
The Streak proved a joy to use and we struggled to find major faults in its overall performance. But its identity crisis may just be its Achilles heel.
Dell Streak review
Awesome for web browsing and handling multimedia but this over-sized touchphone might struggle to find an audience