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Dell Streak review

by Russell Barnes

The Dell Streak. Is it a tablet, or is a smartphone? Get your answers on a postcard, but not before checking out Linux User & Developer’s review…

This article originally appeared in issue 90 of Linux User & Developer magazine.Dell Streak review Subscribe and save more than 30% and receive our exclusive money back guarantee – click here to find out more.

Tech Specs:Dell Streak review
Android 1.6
Processor: 1GHz Snapdragon
Memory: 512MB RAM
Dimensions: 79.1 x 152.9 x 9.98mm
Weight: 220g (inc. battery)
Display size: 5” (800 x 480)
Expansion: microSD, SIM card
Dell homepage

Pros: It’s a great-looking device and is very well constructed. The extra screen real-estate makes browsing and navigation all the easier
Cons: The bundled software isn’t all that great, the 720p video player still doesn’t work as advertised, and widgets are poorly designed

There are two questions many people tend to ask when they first see Dell’s Streak. The first is usually “what is it?” And the second, following a slightly puzzled look, is “who’s it for?” On one hand it’s essentially a 5”-screen smartphone masquerading as a tablet device; on the other it’s a small-form-factor tablet pretending to be a phone. It’s a case of dual personality and whichever way you look at it, there’s no easy way to pigeonhole it. If you were to ask the folks at Dell they’d certainly err on the side of tablet, but this does little to change the fact that it’s basically a very large example of any of the latest Android-based Smartphones you can read about here or elsewhere.

It does everything standard 3” and 4”-screen smartphones do. You can make calls, install the thousands of apps in the Android Market, make use of Google’s free point-to-point navigation software or watch a video saved on its copiously proportioned 16GB memory card.

Dell Streak review

The device itself is very thin – just under 10mm – and sits comfortably in both hands in landscape mode, much like you’d hold any popular handheld games console. The design is a very fetching gloss black with a user-facing camera and ear-speaker on the left and three capacitive touch backlit buttons for Home, Back and Menu on the right. The top bezel is home to the volume rocker, the power button (which doubles up as a lock switch) and a dedicated camera shutter button that will also call the camera to the fore when you want to make use of its 5MP, dual LED-lit lens. The chassis design is second to none and sure to garner attention from gadget fans wherever you take it.

Since its main function buttons are capacitive it’s best to grip with the left hand, since accidental presses of the Home key are all too easy – lefties should beware. Screen navigation is easy with the right hand, though, and anyone familiar with an Android device will feel immediately at home. For everyone else Dell has included a useful ‘Getting Started’ app which shows you the basics capably enough.

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    • MikeFM

      I think the 5″ size could be decent enough but until Android gets it’s act together so it’s interface isn’t clunky I can’t see it being a big hit. One of these companies needs to get it through their heads that all Android tablets will be doomed until somebody really cleans up the user experience. Do that and pair it with halfway decent hardware, especially a nice looking screen with accurate touch, and you’ll have a competitor. Software is at least as important as hardware.

      Of course why should it be a surprise. There were no decent phones, PDAs, or tablets before the iPhone so why should they grok the difference now. They don’t even get it enough to copy someone else.

    • Bob Harvey

      I’m very tempted by this thing – the main thing that puts me off is the appalling customer service I have had from Dell – But with Android 2.2 out and 3.0 announced I won’t be buying anything that still ships with 1.6.

      According to Dell’s web site it has A-gps, and the last two A-gps devices I had could only use the GPS if a data connection was available, making navigation variably useful. None of the reviews I have read discuss this issue.

      I’d use a bluetooth headset for making phone calls anyway, so the usefulness as a phone would be fine. And as I get older I appreciate larger screens anyway. In that regard this might have been made for me.

      It’s only a shame that, in a device this big, they have not included a dual-sim capability, to let me insert sims from my company and private phones. I suppose that is because they are trying to sell the thing through phone companies, a discredited and wretched business practice. Given how badly O2, Orange, and Vodaphone mangle other handsets, I can’t see why anyone interested in serious android – and this is a serious android machine – would want to wear teleco handcuffs, especially at this price. on O2, for example, you can’t even make phone calls – theirs is data only.

      According to Electric Pig it uses a proprietary charging connector – why? – with replacements costing £40. But they also report two days use between charges, which sounds very attractive indeed.

      At £449 this thing is more expensive than many laptops, which somehow can’t be right.

      So, a very desirable device but not without compromises – supplier reputation, OS version, pricing, flexibility. I’ll pass, for now.

    • Karen

      @Bob Harvey
      ” on O2, for example, you can’t even make phone calls – theirs is data only.”
      I have the Streak on contract with O2. I am unsure as to where you have got the information that it is data only, as mine is perfectly capable of using to make calls.

    • Puskow

      Check the price of the blackberry bold 9700, it’s going for 320-350 pounds. And the damn phone can’t connect with any of its applications such as the yahoo/hotmail messenger or even the opera over wifi if the sim has not been provisioned for the blackberry network. And yet they want you to pay the the price of a laptop for the phone. I’ll go with the dell for 449 instead of the crappy blackberry.

    • logan

      good review. i like my new streak. it’s easy to manuever and the apps are fun. it’s got great games and it helps me with my business. great unlocked cell phones. the wifi and email are great for keeping in touch with my clients. my wife and daughter love theirs for the games. keeps em quiet in the car :) seems some people have a problem with the size but i’m ok with it. much better than my tiny unlocked blackberry phones. anyways i got 3 and i like it. ipad was too big and my old pearl was a little ant compared to this. also got my phone unlocking and blackberry unlock codes for free! got my last couple streaks at pretty good. 2 thumbs up on this device.

    • tmorgan

      I bought a Streak 5 for CDN $0.11 and the standard price 3yrs voice/data plan from Rogers.

      Step 1: Calibrate the touch screen or just choose factory reset to solve the unresponsive screen. (Power off phone. Power On while holding both volume up/down pressed. In the menu choose calibrate screen by pressing camera-button. Wait 3 minutes without touching the screen)

      Step 2: Charge your phone battery. Go to settings and get the correct URL for Android 2.2 operating system. It’s better to dowload it on your PC and then rename the 163 MB file to “Update.pkg” so it can be dropped onto your SD card. Use the process in step 1 to update the package. It takes 10 minutes and when it reboots you press the green lock and slide finger up to the green dot to unlock the device.

      HD MKV converted with DivX Converter 7.1 using a 720p profile but size modified down to 800×480 aprox gives the best audio/video quality for playback. It can do 1024×576 but audio goes out of sync.

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      geographical or demographic region, advertising on internet
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      Listening to Internet radio is a breeze for anyone who’s familiar with the World Wide Web. Turn on iheartradio and then look at a different app, your station will keep playing and you can control everything from the “running apps” menu (double-click the home button).