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Review: O2 Dell Streak


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#1 The Guru

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Posted 20 June 2010 - 02:12 PM

Product: O2 Dell Streak Tablet
Supplier: O2 UK

O2 have once again kindly provided us with a rather unique product to review - the Dell Streak, which is a mammoth 5" screened beast of a machine running the Android operating system. This alas will be a review in brief as we only have the machine on loan for a very short time.

The Streak specification is as:

:rs: Operating System : Android (multi-touch UI)
:rs: Processor : QSD 8250
:rs: Bands : UMTS 2100 / 900 MHz, GSM / EDGE 1900 / 1800 / 900 / 850 MHz, HSDPA / HSUPA:HSDPA 7.2 Mbps / HSUPA 5.76 Mbps
:rs: Display : 5" (12.7 cm) WVGA (800 x 480) in-cell TFT LCD supporting multi-touch
:rs: Camera : 5.0M Rear-Facing Auto-Focus Camera + VGA Front-Facing Camera
:rs: Video : H.263 / H.264, .3GP, MPEG4, WMV
:rs: Sound : MP3, WMA, AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, AMR, Midi, WAV
:rs: Messaging : SMS, MMS, Email, IM
:rs: Browser : WebKit (Android)
:rs: Memory : 512 MB ROM + 512 MB SDRAM + 2 GB non-user accessible MicroSD for system & applications files only
:rs: Storage : 1 user accessible MicroSDTM cardslot (8GB, 16GB & 32GB pre-installed options available)
:rs: Connectivity : WLAN 802.11b/g, Bluetooth® 2.0 with EDR, USB 2.0
:rs: Dimensions : 152.9 x 79.1 x 9.98 mm
:rs: Weight : 220g
:rs: Battery :Li-ion 1530 mAh
:rs: Others : Ambient Light Sensor, Proximity Sensor, Accelerometer, e-compass, GPS, Capacitive sensor keys

Our review package comprised of:

:rs: The Dell Streak itself
:rs: The Li-ion battery
:rs: USB cable
:rs: USB to mains power charger
:rs: Streak 'sock' case
:rs: 16Gb Micro-SD card

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The very first impressions that the Streak gives are two fold:

:rd: It's very very BIG indeed 152.9mm wide x 79.1mm tall (landscape orientation)
:rd: It's very bright as the back of the housing is a metallic red!

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As you can see compared to other current devices:

:rs: HTC HD2
:rs: HTC Desire
:rs: HTC HD Mini

the Streak is massive indeed, but think on, a few years back most Windows Mobile users fell in love with the O2 Exec (HTC Universal). Granted the Streak is an inch (25.7mm) wider but it is slightly less in height and a lot thinner. So considering it is massively more powerful that the Exec with a heck of a larger screen maybe folks need to take those facts into account! Yes the Streak is bigger than current 'PDA' devices but as it is marketed as a tablet device it's really quite small.

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On booting the Streak illuminates the front LH side buttons:

:rd: Back
:rd: Menu
:rd: Home

and presents a glowing white Dell logo on a black background. You'll notice one button missing, there is no dedicated Search button.

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Which clears into a beautifully clear rendition of the O2 logo

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And eventually reaches the 'desktop', with the Dell lock screen showing at this time no SIM card has been inserted, that the screen is locked, and the current time and date. One nice touch is that the desktop screen (and indeed the three screen wallpaper) shows a rather nice landscape image on the O2 Dome. Pure class that is, and a nice touch by O2. Pressing the 'Menu' button unlocks the screen.

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The upper side (or top) of the Streak holds the rest of the control buttons:

:rd: Volume up / down rocker button
:rd: On / off button
:rd: Camera button

as well as the 3.5mm jack socket on the right of the volume rocker (underneath my thumb) :)


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The base holds the Dell non-standard (that is non micro-USB) USB connector. This looks to be based on a similar design as to that used by Apple on their devices and means if you want accessories you must use Dell specific ones!

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Moving on to the back of the machine we have the battery cover which is constructed of a very thin piece of steel, which feels flimsy indeed, and which is very easy to slide on / off. To the left of the cover is the single speaker which the back plate slides over when it disengages. To the right of the cover is the 5Mp camera as well as a LED flash / auto-focus sensor.

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Removing the back cover reveals the battery socket and battery as well as the slot for the micro-SD card and the SIM card. The SIM is inserted sideways and lies directly underneath the SD card. When the back cover is removed the phone automatically turns off - I assume to ensure that is the SD card is removed there is no data corruption.

As you can see to remove the SD card the battery does have to be removed.

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Once at the main desktop of the Streak (the central screen of the three available) you are presented with a goodly number of pre-loaded applications and widgets.

One nice touch is the Getting Started widget which is specific to the machine and it guides you around the control interface.

The control interface comprises of the segmented touch top of screen menu which offers (from left to right):

:rs: Menu which contains shortcuts to; Browser, Phone, Contacts, Email, Market, Google Mail, and More. Selecting the More icon pops open a modified Android launcher - See below:

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The next segment allows you to either access recently used applications or to add more screens to the desktop system, up to a maximum of six. This is pretty damned impressive and a nice Dell innovation.

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Next is the 'dot display' which serves (iPhone like) to show you which desktop screen is currently active. This is followed by the Notifications segment which when tapped pops downwards to show any current notifications.

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The final segment displays the status of the machine showing if WiFi is active, the GPRS signal, and battery remaining. If tapped upon it pops downwards to offer more detailed status information as well as allowing access to the more commonly used settings such as Aeroplane mode, WiFi and Bluetooth toggling, etc.

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When at the desktop the 'Menu' button activates a further pop out screen which allows you to add a program shortcut or widget (which you can of course also do by tapping and holding on the screen), change the wallpaper for that specific desktop portion, perform a Google Internet search, view any notifications, or access the main Android settings screen.

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As standard the far left desktop is populated with the Facebook and Twitter widgets, and you can of course change these to any others you may prefer. Installed as standard are:

:rs: Analog clock
:rs: Calendar
:rs: Email
:rs: Facebook Widget from Dell
:rs: Latitude
:rs: Now Playing
:rs: Picture Frame
:rs: Power Control
:rs: RSS
:rs: RSS - BBC Business
:rs: RSS - BBC Entertainment
:rs: RSS - BBC UK
:rs: RSS - Sky Business
:rs: RSS - Sky News Home
:rs: Search
:rs: TouchDown Calendar
:rs: TouchDown Email
:rs: TouchDown Universal
:rs: TouchDown Tasks
:rs: Twitter

Now you may be wondering what on earth TouchDown is, I was :)

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Touchdown is a commercial Exchange application of which a 30 day trial only is included on the Streak which is not good news, to me a license should be included. The good news though is that Touchdown can handle multiple Exchange profiles - I've just tested it out with my own Exchange accounts for home and work and it works perfectly!

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One very nice application included on the Streak is the Pictures and Videos program, when loaded it displays any media discovered on your storage card, and they are all displayed very sleekly with a timeline bar underneath so you can see when each was taken. Scrolling through the pictures is smoothly accomplished via left and right swipes of the screen.

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Tapping on an a photograph opens it in full screen.......

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And a further tap zooms the image to full size. All of the transitions are smooth and fast.

Impressive Dell, very impressive.

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We'll finish of the screen shots here with a few other applications. Here you can see the phone dialler, nice large buttons.

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Google Maps displays in awesome clarify and detail on the large 5" screen!

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And Google Night Sky (not loaded as standard) is amazingly impressive in both speed, accuracy and detail.

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The keyboard; Dell have made good use of the screen real estate and include as standard a full QWERTY keyboard with a numeric keypad, this makes data entry very easy, even though you do end up stretching a little due to the keyboards span. The only niggle here is that there is no haptic feedback which would be useful to indicate a key had been tapped.

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And finally, those who know me probably expected this. eBooks - I loaded FB Reader and wow - the large screen is wonderful for enjoying a good book - who needs a Kindle device!

Example Photos:

The camera application loads with a press and hold on the camera button, taking around 3 seconds to become fully operational.

There are the usual features concerning resolution, balance etc, but there are some omissions too; there is an autofocus on the camera but nothing to set the point of that focus, no tap to set the focal point, there is no auto-flash, it's a manual toggle.

There is however a 4X digital zoom option, although the quality when the device is hand held is not that impressive:

Note: Each of the below is a large thumbnail which may be clicked on to load an original non-reduced size image.

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Conclusion:

Dell have worked hard to produce something rather unique, that is a small form factor tablet device (or a large form factor phone device) that has a decent balance of size against functionality. Their customisation of the Android operating system onto the machine has been carried out with aplomb and the interface is a pleasure to interact with. The segmented bar along the top of the screen gives a lot of added functionality and works very well indeed.

However there are a few serious niggles that do need resolving (in my opinion of course):

:td: Google Contacts - When using search to bring up a contact, if that contact is then tapped on the contact application crashes.
:td: The micro-SD card is held in place purely by friction, there is no locking mechanism at all.
:td: The USB connector should really be micro-USB.
:td: The operating system is using Android firmware 1.6 which is now pretty old, really what it needs on there is Froyo - version 2.2.

Some of the above are obviously hardware issues that need a redesign but the others should be resolvable via an OTA software update. Dell have promised a Froyo reboot towards the end of 2010, and one would hope by then that the Streak would use the Android Exchange system to support multiple accounts instead of a third party application.

However saying that the current OS implementation is speedy enough and the Streak offers a lot of user goodness:

:tu: Large screen (well readable in sunlight)
:tu: Very smooth in operation
:tu: Dell customisation of the interface works very well
:tu: Photo and video playback are wonderful on the large screen using Dells enhanced software
:tu: Good battery life - 81% left after 5 hours usage with WiFi and GPS turned on
:tu: Impressive large keyboard

Final thought would I buy a Streak? That is difficult, if it felt a little more robust, and had the software glitches fixed, then yes. Otherwise if I bought one now I'd be handling it very carefully and complaining to Dell over the few bugs that are in there!

Out thanks as always are extended to O2 UK for providing us with the review sample!

[All images processed using Snagit from Techsmith]

Daron Brewood

C.E.O. Smartphonegurus

(Microsoft MVP Windows Phone Oct 2002 - Oct 2011)

Surface Pro2 / Lumia 925 running WP8.1 / HTC One (M7)

 


#2 fowljr

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Posted 20 June 2010 - 09:27 PM

Nice review Daron. It is a superb looking device. How did you find typing on the on-screen keyboard? Where you able to get any touch-typing going? Another interes
ting thing is that the Milestone has a the dot display to show you what screen you're in as well, I wonder if it's Android specific rather than a Dell add-on?

Jim Fowl
Moderator&Reviewer www.smartphonegurus.com


#3 Guest_KrisWB_*

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Posted 21 June 2010 - 10:13 AM

Hey,

Great review, and great device. To be fair, knowing that the software glitches can be rectified I am tempted to get one of these.

#4 The Guru

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Posted 21 June 2010 - 05:08 PM

Nice review Daron. It is a superb looking device. How did you find typing on the on-screen keyboard? Where you able to get any touch-typing going? Another interesting thing is that the Milestone has a the dot display to show you what screen you're in as well, I wonder if it's Android specific rather than a Dell add-on?


The on screen keyboard was a dream to use once I'd got used to the width of it, could only have been improved by having tactile feedback.

You could be right about the dot, I've not seen it on any HTC machines though, but maybe they hide it with Sense.

Hey,

Great review, and great device. To be fair, knowing that the software glitches can be rectified I am tempted to get one of these.


Only a very brief review though as alas the machine is being packed for posting off tomorrow. I did enjoy using it though I must admit!

Daron Brewood

C.E.O. Smartphonegurus

(Microsoft MVP Windows Phone Oct 2002 - Oct 2011)

Surface Pro2 / Lumia 925 running WP8.1 / HTC One (M7)

 


#5 fowljr

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Posted 21 June 2010 - 08:54 PM

Let's hope they can add haptic feedback then. I was impressed by the streak. I must pop back into the O2 store for a play.

Jim Fowl
Moderator&Reviewer www.smartphonegurus.com


#6 iMe

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Posted 21 June 2010 - 09:03 PM

I'm sure the one that I saw in an O2 store didn't have a red back.

I still just don't understand the thinking on the size

#7 fowljr

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Posted 21 June 2010 - 09:06 PM

I'll agree there, the one I saw didn't have a red back either. But I think it sits in between a phone and a tablet or iPad... Again I don't see it as a replacement device for a phone, it's a little too large to slip in a pocket really, making it inconvenient, but I can see it as a MID around the house easily. But if the SIM free cost-point is around or near an iPad, you may as well get an iPad methinks.

Jim Fowl
Moderator&Reviewer www.smartphonegurus.com


#8 The Guru

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Posted 21 June 2010 - 09:58 PM

From the figures I saw I think it's around half the price of an iPad. It certainly got a lot of interest from the guys at work!

Daron Brewood

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(Microsoft MVP Windows Phone Oct 2002 - Oct 2011)

Surface Pro2 / Lumia 925 running WP8.1 / HTC One (M7)

 


#9 Boz

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Posted 22 June 2010 - 07:30 AM

Nice review Daron, others have mentioned the size and I have to echo those comments. It has to be the biggest Android phone out there, and in my eyes not very practical.

Those issues aside it does look well made, the UI looks very intuitive and the keyboard is to die for, one plus point in having a large screen. :)
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#10 fowljr

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Posted 22 June 2010 - 07:35 AM

If I had one, I doubt I'd use it as a phone because of its size... Although I guess having the capability to make calls on it is a bonus...

Jim Fowl
Moderator&Reviewer www.smartphonegurus.com





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