The Streak is back with Android 2.2 and a whole host of new features such as stages, but can it finally start climbing the ladder towards smartphone perfection and tablet excellence, T3 puts the hybrid through its paces.
The Dell Streak was a bold move from the PC manufacturer when it launched earlier this year – with a whopping five inch screen it was the first move towards an Android tablet before the Samsung Galaxy Tab came along to do it properly. But the Streak’s hybrid nature, lack of Exchange email support and the fact it only came with Android 1.6 counted against it, and users failed to flock to the innovative device
The Android 2.2 update has brought with it a few cool new features, and one of the most visible is stages. These offer the user a group of widgets, be it on email, the web or just the most used applications, and not only do they really help with functionality, they look great on the five-inch screen.
Speaking of the home screens, Dell has optimised the Streak to run a lot faster on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 1GHz chip, and you can really feel it. Where before it would judder and shriek at times, it’s pretty much flawless in operation when moving from app to app.
In the six months since the Dell Streak was released the rest of the smartphone market hasn’t stood still, so things like multi-touch only working on certain applications and no inbuilt Exchange client began to jar quickly on the old Streak.
Both of those issues have been addressed, with Dell making use of the basic Android email client (which is perfectly reasonable, if a little rigid in what you can do with it) and offering multi-touch throughout and text reflow for the internet browser.
We’re not sure the multi-touch is still up to the task at times though, as it is prone to not following your gesture fully at times. Text reflow also can bounce about the page a bit when you zoom in, with single or double taps needed to convince the Streak to shuffle the letters around.
Dell Streak review: keyboard and battery
Another new feature is the overhauled keyboard, something the Streak really needed, with Swype now installed as the default method of text entry.
The slightly erratic word prediction aside, we think that this tech is a really odd choice – swiping across the keyboard of a phone you can’t reach both sides of the screen on is a little tricky, so you quickly need two hands to text, which can be a chore.
Battery life seems somewhat increased too with the Android 2.2 upgrade; while it’s not going to suddenly last over two days with the new OP platform, you’ll easily get a day’s charge out of it even with heavier use – using the music and video player a bit, downloading apps and surfing the internet, for instance.
Dell Streak review: verdict
The Dell Streak is still a great gadget because of its innovative size and operation – and it’s certainly a darn sight cheaper than the Galaxy Tab. Android 2.2 really does give it a slick overhaul, with all the features we’d expect a top end smartphone to be running (inbuilt Exchange, Flash video etc) now all present and correct.
At this screen size it’s not going to be for everyone, and things like the Swype keyboard do still jar slightly, but overall we’d have no trouble recommending the Streak to anyone that spends most of their time using apps and browsing the internet on their smartphone. A definite improvement on the first version, the Dell Streak is definitely one for tablet fans to check out.
Dell Streak price: 16GB £149 on a 30 month contract, or free on £40 contract, £399 on PAYG,
Dell Streak release date: Out now