Dell Streak 7 Inch Android Tablet Reviewed
Tablets. All of us perceive the usefulness of these devices differently depending on our lifestyle, so let me tell you where I come from: I spend most of my time using a powerful desktop computer (a PC) with multiple displays. If I need to get some work done outside of the office, I use a laptop computer (Sony Vaio, Macbook Pro or Macbook Air). On the go, I keep track of emails with a smartphone, but I tend to reply only moderately from a tiny tablet because typing long emails is still slower (when compared to a laptop computer). I check news sites a lot, & I often use a laptop computer on my couch.
Dell has introduced the Dell Streak 7, a tablet that is marketed as a potent product to work, but also to play, watch video, be watched in video calls. The Streak 7 is also introduced as an accomplished eReader & an overall multimedia tool to consume music, picture & the world wide web. Dell has always recognized that the smaller Streak 5 incher is an experiment in terms of form factor & usage model, but the 7 inch version goes head to head with the iPad, the Galaxy Tab & other tablets. So how is it, how does it compare with other options? Here is a gist of my experience.
The Dell Streak 7 has a tidy design. It is plain & feels a bit plastic especially in the back, more so than the Samsung Galaxy Tab for example. Unlike other devices, this one has only two Android buttons – Home, Menu & Back. The Search button that Google loves a lot is missing, no clues why. At the top of the screen, the front camera & the microphone are visible. At the bottom, you can find the connecting port that can be used with a Dell USB cable, or with a dock. The port looks like the Apple 30-pin connector, although they are different at the pin-level. Other tablets like the Samsung Galaxy Tab have similar connectors. On the right, there’s three covered ports for the SIM card & the SD card. There are stereo speakers along with a standard 3.5mm jack. Finally in the back, there is a 5 Megapixel camera with a LED flash. The back has a light texture that improves the grip, but not by much.
The Android buttons are oddly placed. If you use the tablet right-handed, your thumb lands right where the buttons are. If otherwise, it is actually simpler to basically rotate it by 180 degrees & hold it from the opposite side. It works great, perhaps except in the event you use the webcam. Even then, I tend to find the Streak 7 to be a two-hands tool, despite its comparatively tiny size when compared to the iPad. With a single hand, it feels heavier than it looks, so keep this in mind. You might be surprised.
The Dell Streak 7 display size, is not the best in class. If you are into smartphones & tablets, you will notice right away that the resolution is comparatively low for a 7 screen. At 800X480, you get the same resolution than most 3.5 inch smartphones run, but picture is now blowed to 7 inch! Another thing that I have noticed is that the display has a poor viewing angle. If I put the Streak 7 on my table, the display becomes barely visible. This is a big concern to me, & one that everyone can be sensitive to. It’s true that the sheer size makes user experience more productive relative to a smartphone, but the low resolution also affects the readability in a noticeable way. In a outdoor setting, things get hard. All back lit screen technologies using LCD or OLED is makes reading in sunlight hard. But on the Dell Streak it is harder to read in direct sunlight. In the event you plan to make use of it outside, or in a bright place, this might make things almost impossible. How much does this affect the common majority of the people? Simply said, for majority of the people it is a good enough but, I would suggest you to compare it with against potential competitors like the Galaxy Tab or the iPad which offer greater resolutions.
On the hardware front, the Dell Streak 7 makes use of the Tegra 2 system on a chip (SoC) concept from NVIDIA. What I was expecting was a liquid user experience, but the streak 7 does not feel faster than most Android devices that came out 12 months back.
Media Consumption & Productivity – Books, News Videos and Music
One of the main reasons for the recent success of the tablet market is because of their use primarily as media consumption devices and not as media creation devices. So I did a few things like reading books, news, watch video & listen to music. The results are mixed & you can have different views depending on what you care the most: absolute quality or mobility. iPad wins hands down in the user experience and quality as a media consumption device.
Videos are not as sharp, neither are the eBooks. Of work, the Dell Streak 7 is smaller. Compared to a smartphone, reading news and books on the Dell Streak is much better, but cannot match the iPad experience. I used the downloadable Android application Kindle, but there are many options, including the Nook application from B&N and others. Overall, I found the experience to be lovely, although not the best. Videos also benefit from a bigger screen (when coming from a smartphone again). Things look lovely, but even over WiFi internet, youtube videos look more compressed than they are on the iPad. While the Dell Streak 7 hardware prowess can handle much higher bitrate videos, what I think is YouTube considers the Dell Streak as a conventional smartphone and provides lower resolution compressed videos for the device.
News can be consumed with great ease when you are indoors, thanks to the plenty of news apps, & news sites out there. In landscape more, you may even visit full-size sites like Yahoo, without having to to zoom-in to read the text. This is something that is impossible on a 4 inch smartphone with the same resolution where things would basically be too tiny to read without eye strain.
Music playback had no issues. The Streak 7 can handle local music playback or web services without sweating. There’s nothing special on this front as most devices can handle music well.
When it comes to productivity, the central part is the virtual keyboard and I must say that on a bigger screen, streaks “swype technology” rocks! In the event you are not familiar with swype, it is a virtual keyboard with which could can handle a swipe from one letter to the next in lieu of tapping. It is more correct because your finger stays on the screen surface the whole time. With tapping, most typos happen because your finger lands on the wrong spot. Swype technology eliminates that problem. It’s not ideal though, as Swype depends heavily on a dictionary, so in the event you tend to make use of slang or words that are not in the dictionary, Swype might not help as much. In my case, I find Swype to be competitive with the iPad keyboard, which normally would have an advantage because it is bigger in sheer size. From a productivity standpoint, the shortage of pixel real-estate & first rate copy/paste capabilities can be annoying in the event you use it often. Overall, I see the Dell Streak 7 productivity as being close to a smartphone, except that typing is much faster.
Excellent Web Browsing
Web browsing is excellent, like it is on most recent Android devices. The version 2.2 of Android used the Dell Streak has in-browser support for Flash. You can go to Flash sites (some industries rely heavily on Flash) & even play casual Flash games, although most of them are built for desktop machines & depend on a mouse or a keyboard. In horizontal mode, even tiny characters are readable which is not the case on a 4 inch smartphone display using the same resolution, so that works well in the event you have a lovely sight. In vertical mode, you must zoom in because things get small.
The Dell Streak 7 is less expensive than the Galaxy Tab, but it is still priced on the range of the the WiFi iPad ($499) which has a sharply better user experience. You can preorder the Dell Streak 7 Wi-Fi Tablet (Gray)for just $379 at Amazon. You can get it from Dell Website for $449. You will get subsidy when you opt for a 2-year contract from T-mobile for their 4G network, but if anything, that will make the total cost of possession (TCO) higher but its up to you.
It comes down to your tolerance to pricing & usage model. In the event you really require an Android Tablet now & in the event you dont need a tiny 4 inch Tablet, and can’t afford the Galaxy Tab, the Dell Streak 7 could be an option to think about. In case you don’t care a damn about Android & the smaller size, the iPad will provide a much better user experience overall. Dell has selected a powerful hardware platform for its latest Tablet offering. This is a sensible choice, as faster browsing & faster Adobe Flash support make the user experience better. The hardware is also currently the best you can find to play 3D games. However, the user experience lags the competition in three ways 1. the low-resolution display & the general use of the additional screen surface.