dell_streak_leadNAME: Dell Streak

PRICE: $299.99 w/ two-year contract

FUN FACT: Dell re-entered the mobile phone game this year with its Android-powered Aero smartphone.

THE BACK STORY: Over the next couple of months we're going to see how each computer company envisions what a tablet computer should be. Some believe they can replace large PCs, while others, like Dell, see them more as complementary gadgets. For its first tablet, the Streak, Dell built a product that blurs the line between smartphone and tablet computer with the the hopes of giving users a gadget that delivers actual mobile productivity in a package that doesn't necessitate a backpack.


Slim, minimal design: The best design is no design, right? When turned off, the Streak looks like a black slab of glass. It's five-inch screen takes most of the front, while three touch buttons are situated beneath. There's nothing distracting you from whatever is happening on the screen. It's the best-designed Dell product, probably, ever.

Great screen: Tablets live and die by their screens. Thankfully, the Streak has a bright and responsive 800 x 480 LCD screen. The surface stays smudge-free for the most part, and maneuvering around the OS is made easier by the screen's accuracy.

Android-powered: Historically, Dell has a been one of the most, if not the most avid supporters of Microsoft and its Windows platform. But recently, they've wisely decided to explore other options. Instead of going with Windows Mobile, Dell opted for Android. Yeah, it's only Android 1.6, but it promises to have a 2.2 update later this year. How does it perform? Just as you'd expect it to. You easily breeze through photos, browse the web, and use all the available Android apps. Dell also built multi-touch into it so you can pinch and expand your fingers like you do on an iPhone.

Fast and connected: Sporting a 1 GHz Snapdragon processor, the Streak is one of the fastest tablets on the market. And it shows. Playing games or watching video is flawless. Browsing the web happens quickly as well, thanks to the built-in AT&T 3G and wi-fi antennas. We did most of our browsing over wi-fi, but using the 3G mobile connection was just how you'd expect it to be on a smartphone. Depending on your location, it could either be really good, or horrible. But there's a reason we decided to stay on wi-fi...



Weak camera: We appreciate having the ability to take photos and look on them on the great five-inch screen, but the five-megapixel camera built into the Streak is just weak. Photos came back washed-out and dull.

Outdated OS: We mentioned it before, but for a new product to feature old software is a little painful considering Dell's asking $300. Yeah, they promise to update it in the future, but for now you're stuck with an OS that doesn't provide the best user experience and won't play some of the best new Android apps on the market.

Battery life: We've left our iPad running for days without the battery dying. We expected the Streak to do the same, but nope. We couldn't go a full day without the battery completely draining.

Way more expensive w/o contract: If you don't mind being tied to AT&T for two years, then go ahead and cop it for $300. But if you're like us and would want the Streak single like a Weezy song, you're going to have to pay $550! For $50 less you can cop the wi-fi-only iPad with a bigger screen, more apps, and a better OS.


FINAL SAY: Despite the fact that some Android phones are already encroaching on this territory with their massive screens, we find the Streak to be a welcome hybrid of tablet and smartphone. For those copping the 3G version, it's a pretty good value when compared to other 3G tablets. We'd love for there to be a cheaper wi-fi model to undercut the iPad. But the Streak gives you a full-powered tablet in a very manageable size, with options—e.g., SD card slot and Exchange support for our suits out there—that other tablets don't have. If you don't have a touchscreen smartphone, and can't see yourself buying a full on tablet, this is for you.

Click Here to Buy It Now at Dell, $300