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Dell Streak review

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…

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So who exactly is the Streak for? There’s no definitive answer, but it certainly ticks the boxes for the early-adopting gadget fanatic. This is partly thanks to its nonconformist 79.1 x 152.9 x 9.98mm dimensions and its wonderfully realised 800×480 screen that’s perfect for video (even if its bundled video player is not – it’s certainly in need of an update). Thanks to some shrewd software bundling, we’re quite confident Dell has designed it quite specifically with mobile professionals in mind, however. It comes pre-loaded with QuickOffice (with file format compatibility for a wide range of office applications) and TouchDown (which – via Exchange ActiveSync – can pull down email, contacts and calendars into one place).

More evidence for it supporting the office worker on the go comes courtesy of the Nuance voice control app, which can be used in conjunction with the bundled hands-free kit to voice-dial contacts or call-in entirely new numbers. Though performance of the latter was far from flawless, we can see the advantage of having the Streak in a cradle on the dashboard, ever ready to make calls, look up locations or hand out point-to-point directions. The size of the screen makes it an excellent satnav and in landscape mode the dialler has massive numbers that lend itself perfectly to making business calls on the move.

As useful as it is to have so much screen real-estate to play with (and we’re sure many developers could really utilise the extra space), it’s unfortunate that Dell seemingly didn’t put as much time and effort into the skinning of Android 1.6 (the Streak is due for an upgrade in line with modern handsets any time now) as it did with the construction of the device itself. Some of the widgets smack of sheer laziness, with Facebook and Twitter apps that look like Windows 95 throwbacks. In this respect Dell really must try harder.

Verdict: 4/5
For us the Dell Streak performed best as an eBook reader, satnav, gaming device and web browser. Though perfectly suited to hands-free calls, we weren’t at all comfortable holding it to our ear. Battery life just shy of ten hours was more than acceptable, though there’s clearly much work to be done on the software side to really make it shine. Give it another few months for software spit and polish, however, and the Streak will be a serious contender as our primary mobile device.

New info: UK customers can expect to see the Android 2.1 update (with 720p video recording) sometime in September.

Click here to read more reviews from Linux User & Developer, or see what else featured in issue 90 of Linux User & Developer…

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