After using Dell Streak 7 for awhile, you may have a mixed feeling. Its powerful Tegra2 CPU can guarantee an acceptable performance and the subtly sharp design may appeal those who look at the tablet for the first time. Unfortunately, the inelegant software implementation and its unimpressive display may turn off potential buyers. You can get the tablet from T-Mobile at an attractive price of $200 with a 2-year contract. The fact that the same carrier offer Galaxy Tab at $100 higher, may make Dell’s new tablet worth consideration.
Last summer, Dell introduced the 5-inch Streak, unfortunately the tablet is too small for a tablet but too large to be considered a smartphone. It made many people itch for a proper variant with more polish and a bigger display. For now, The Streak 7 may deliver on these issues, well…sort of.
Design is the Streak 7’s biggest appeal. It may not be stylish or slim, rather its subtle contours, button placement and build quality are simply appealing. At 7.9 by 4.7 inches, the tablet is just 0.4 inch longer than Samsung’s tablet. The Streak may appear to be a sliver thinner, but actually both are equally half an inch thick. At 15.5 ounces, it is also 2 ounces heavier than Galaxy Tab. You may consider the Streak as comfortable to hold due to its subtle curves. Overall, the design is streamlined yet functional. Some people consider that the headphone jack is awkwardly situated, at upper left (landscape) and top right (portrait). It has sturdy port cover, which fits with the edge smoothly. When opened with fingernails, it will notably snap open to reveal SIM-card and SD Card slots.
The tablet is intended more as a two-handed device, held at landscape orientation. At this position, the front-facing 1.3Mp camera is conveniently placed at the middle. Likewise, two speakers are found at the right sides and top left, giving more than enough clearance from where the device is usually held. Of course, this is a nice touch, as Galaxy Tab and other tablets have speakers at where our hands might usually fall. Others have speakers at the back, which ruins the audio quality if the tablet rests on a table or your lap.
You may have some gripes with the usability issues. The Dell Streak 7 will face especially stiff competition from other tablets that ship with the Honeycomb (Android 3.0). Although Dell has promised that it will release Android 3.0 for Streak 7 users in the future, the current Android 2.2 OS is inherently insufficient because this version is originally intended for smartphones.
If Galaxy Tab has the TouchWiz interface, the Streak 7 has little in the way of customized interface. Except for changes on the home screen, you’ll get an essentially a stock Android version. The customized home screen has a decent design, it has widgets with different content type. For example, the Social offers a quick hook into Twitter and Facebook; and Mail shows your newly arrived e-mails. Music and Web merely show the most recently played songs and accessed URLs. While useful, the whole arrangement leaves much to be desired. Some reviewers complained that they occasionally need to re-enter their e-mail address when using the Mail widget, while the Social widget only offers truncated updates, you need to sign in to your Twitter or Facebook account to see the full text.
Users may find another sore spot on its mediocre capacitive display. Just like HP Zeen and Viewsonic ViewPad 7, it has 800 X 640 pixels resolution. The multitouch screen is a huge disappointment; it is glaringly inferior when placed next to the Galaxy Tab (with 1024 X 600 resolution). Images lack punch and look washed, texts is barely passable due to sparkly background and noticeable pixilation, long stretches of reading will fell like a torture with the Streak 7. The powerful dual-core Tegra2 can’t seem to prevent the graphics to appear pixelated and blocky.
The Android 2.2 is a stop-gap measures before we have the more widespread availability of Android 3.0. As the result, you may find some issues due to the fact that the version is originally used for smartphones. Many smartphones apps on the Android Market are not designed for larger screen; they are displayed in smaller form and flushed to the upper left corner. Some apps even cause Dell Streak 7 to freeze, perhaps due to its inability to scale non-tablet apps. The problem may not be related to the underlying Android platform, as on the Galaxy Tab, those apps did just fine.
The battery life is another disappointment, if the Galaxy Tab carries a 4000mAh battery, Streak 7’s 2780mAh battery won’t last as long as you might hope. When using mobile broadband continuously, the tablet will last for only about 15 hours, while Galaxy Tab can run for about 19 hours for similar usages. Its 5Mp rear-facing camera can be a little awkward in your hand and you won’t be impressed with its responsiveness. The virtual keyboard is usable and responsive; all of its keys can be reached by both thumbs at portrait orientation. When pressed, the key has a blow glow around it, which allows you to prevent typos during fast typing.
What connectivity features you’ll get? It supports T-Mobile HSPA+ network, 3G, and UMTS network. For short range data transfer, it offers Bluetooth 2.1+EDR and 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi. Its browser is fully HTML5 and Flash capable, but many websites still recognize the device as a smartphone instead a full-bore tablet.
T-Mobile offers us a host of apps; the T-Mobile TV gives an easy access on on-demand and live TV, The Zinio magazine reader, Brainpop for children, Amazon Kindle, Slacker, Asphalt 5, Let’s Golf HD (demo) Qik Video Chat, Think Office and Blockbuster. Unfortunately, you don’t get file manager and task killer, which are essential in any operating system.
For $40, existing consumers get a monthly unlimited data plan from T-Mobile (full speed for the first 5GB and throttled thereafter). For a two-year contract, you can get the tablet for $200; but without contract, T-Mobile offers it for $450 and you can buy monthly data plan separately. T-Mobile allows the tablet to become a mobile hotspot at no additional charge, with the ability to connect to more than five devices.
T-Mobile highly competitive and aggressive pricing make the Dell Streak 7, attractive if budgetary constraints is your paramount consideration. Had this tablet shipped together with the original Streak, we may more easily excuse its faults. Because the Galaxy Tab can give you a significantly better user experience for another $100, you should think hard whether you want a Dell Streak 7.