Dell has just introduced the Dell Streak 7, a tablet that is marketed as a potent product to work, but also to play, watch video and “be watched” in video calls. The Streak 7 is also presented as an accomplished eReader and an overall multimedia device to consume music, photo and the web.
The box contains:
- Dell Streak 7
- USB cable
- Hands-free Headset
- Wall Charger
- Quick Start Guide
- Terms & Conditions
The hardware design for the Streak 7 is vastly improved from the Streak 5. I was one of Dell’s harshest critics of the Streak 5 as the back battery panel came to easily detached from the device.
Like the Tab the back of the Streak 7 is a solid non-removable panel. The back also contains a small diamond texture design similar to the texture feel Dell has been putting on more of their consumer notebooks.
One of the things that stands out the most with the design of the hardware is that it appears to be designed with landscape mode in mind as the major way the product will be used. From the camera positions, to the power and volume buttons and most noticeably the orientation of the side buttons.
The design of the Streak 7 is much like the design of the Streak 5 where the sides of the device, if you are holding it landscape, have a slight curve. On the top of the device there are only two buttons, off and one and volume up and down. The Home, Menu and Back buttons are on the front. One thing that is noticeable is the absence of the search button so commonly found on other Android hardware. This could mean Dell intends to make the move to Honeycomb quickly where search is integrated more into the core operating system, or it could just frustrate users.
There are two speakers on the Streak 7 on both ends of the device, which gives it a true stereo experience with applications that use audio. In comparison the Tab has two speakers but they are both at the bottom of the device.
The tablet itself is 7.9 x 4.7 x 0.5 and weighs 1lb compared to the Tab which is 7.5 x 4.7 x 0.5 inches and 13.4 ounces. In this side by side comparison you can see the Streak 7 is slightly longer.
The rest of the Streak 7 is pretty standard. You get a good quality rear camera, a decidedly worse front camera, a few basic controls on the body – volume and power – and little else.
The rear camera takes acceptable pictures and includes a flash. The front camera is a bit more pixelated but the images are acceptable, as we see below.
The Streak 7 supports Wi-Fi Sharing and USB Tethering. It also supports GPS mapping and the entire Android Store so you can use it for ebook reading and other assorted activities.
Text input is very smooth and haptic feedback along with Swype “gesture” support makes this device considerably more usable. The device is also smaller and lighter than any of the other Android or iOS tablets I’ve seen, which is an added plus. It’s about eight inches long and four inches wide. There is no removable battery but a bottom flap opens to reveal a full SD card port and SIM slot.
The trouble with the Streak 7 begins as soon as you load up the specialized user interface, which, although unique, cannot mask the fact that it is a stylized version of Android 2.2. Though Android 2.2 serves smartphones well, it fails to create an intuitive user experience in tablet form factors. Text, websites, and media all feel awkwardly cramped given the amount of screen real-estate provided by the 7-inch screen. Dell promises to update the Streak series later this year when the tablet-specific Android 3.0 Honeycomb OS is released, but for the time being users are stuck with Android 2.2.
Still, Dell has tried to give users a custom tailored experience with data, app, and media hubs, which they call the Stage UI. Broken down into email, music, web, social, and home panels, the Stage UI design provides quick access to apps, media, bookmarked websites, and social networking and email feeds. Rather than having to jump into your Facebook app to view status updates, users can simply scroll through the social Stage UI widget, which can be pretty handy for quick on-the-fly use. Ultimately, however, the Stage UI is largely superficial, and users must load the full-sized apps if they want more than just the basic functions of each hub.
Video capture was only able to be shot up to 720p, though this might be due to a flaw or early version of the software
or hardware in the device, as we expected 1080p for this function. On the
other hand, 1080p was in full swing for playback, rocking pretty hard with flawless images and smooth frames. The front features a 1.3 megapixel fixed focus camera while the back employs a 5 megapixel autofocus camera with flash.
Again, it makes you wonder if Dell seemingly rushed the Streak 7 because we’re presented with the ordinary and boring looking stock Android music player. Yes, you heard that right; it’s the same exact one you’d find on any Android smartphone. Naturally, it’s more than functional, but its audio output is rather lacking when it comes to heavy bass tones; though glaring still at the loudest setting. Unfortunately though, there are no visualizations or equalizer settings to enhance the experience – which is a bummer indeed.
Playing with the Streak 7 feels good as games are more immersive than on smartphone. Unlike iPad versions of iOS games, these are the exact same than the ones running on Android phones. 3D games run fast, just as fast as other devices equipped with the same Tegra 2 1GHz chip. Don’t expect higher performance because there’s more room for cooling in the tablet format.
The battery life on the Streak 7 has to be my biggest complaint. Over the weekend I took it with me on a day trip to Berkeley and after a full nights charge it was dead by 5 PM. The next day faired a little better but just barely made it through a day.
The culprit is the Streak 7 only has a 2780 mAh battery while the Tab has a 4000 mAh battery. The bottom line is expect more frequent charging if you plan on heavy usage.
Dell Streak 7 Specification
2G Network GSM 850, 900, 1800, 1900 MHz
3G Network 850, 1700/2100, 1900, 2100 MHz
L x B x H 199.9 x 119.8 x 12.4 mm
Weight 450 grams
Form Factor Candybar Touch Tablet
Type TFT Capacitive Touch Screen
Size 7 inches
Resolution 480 x 800 Pixels WVGA
Input/ User Interface Dell Stage UI
Accelerometer Sensor for UI auto-rotate
Proximity Sensor For Auto turn or off
Operating System Android 2.2 Froyo
CPU 1 GHz Dual-core NVIDIA Tegra 2 Processor
3D Graphics hardware Accelerator
Internal Memory 16GB
Expandable Memory micro-SD card slot for memory storage up to 32GB
Browser & Messaging HTML, Flash, Web kit Browser
SMS, MMS, IM, Email
Still – 5 Megapixels
– 2592х1944 pixels
– LED Flash
– Auto focus , Digital Zoom
– Color Effects, Scenes, White Balance
Secondary – 1.3 Megapixels
– 1280×1024 Pixels
– Fixed Focus
Video Recording – 720p HD video recording capable @ 30fps
– 1280×720 Pixels
Video Calling Capable
DATA EDGE, HSDPA, HSUPA, HSPA+
Bluetooth & USB v2.1 with EDR & v2.0 Micro USB
Headset 3.5mm stereo headset jack
WLAN Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
3G HSDPA Up to 21 Mbps
HSUPA Up to 5.76 Mbps
Video & Audio
Video Formats 3GP, MPEG4, WMV, H.263, H.264
Audio Formats MP3, WMA, AAC, AMR, MIDI, WAV, AAC+, eAAC+
Type Li-Ion 2780 mAh Standard Battery
Video Playback Time –
Audio Playback time
Other Features 1080p HD Video Playback
Qik and Skype Video Chat service
Dell Stage UI 1.0
Turn-by-turn navigation, Voice navigation
Adobe 10.1 Flash compatibility
BrainPOP, T-Mobile Tv, Zinio
Android Market, G-mail, Google Maps, G-Talk
Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Picasa
Colors Availability Black
Aside from the Streak 7’s 4G network compatibility, it isn’t particularly swift or responsive when it comes to general tasks, such as navigating, composing e-mail or browsing the Web. Dell promises there’s an Nvidia T-20 Tegra chip under the hood, but for the most part, we found the Samsung Galaxy Tab outperformed the Streak 7 in common tasks.
The battery life is my biggest complaint with the Streak 7 and in terms of battery life the Tab is a better option.
I want to see how the Streak 7 performs when either Gingerbread or Honeycomb become available as an update. From things like multi-threaded support, more tablet centric OS and speed / performance gains all things that will add value to not only tablets in general but the Streak 7 as well.
- Affordable price
- Fast HSPA+ speeds
- Poor battery life
- Grainy looking 720p video recording
- Non-optimized core Android apps