Dell Streak - Split Personalities

Launch SRP: S$938


Turning Green

While the iPad might have triggered the tablet outbreak in 2010, there is another catalyst that brought forth the growth - Google Android. Tablets such as the Galaxy Tab, and the recently announced Viewsonic Viewpad, have chose the open-source Android platform as its operating system. And we haven't yet touch upon the wide range of OEM tablets out there. Hence, it's no surprise that the Streak follows the trend by loading its hardware with the Android platform. Its initial announcement pointed to an Android 1.6 OS, with an impending update to Android 2.2. While we are essentially a few months late in laying our hands on the Streak, the bright side is, we get Android 2.2 right out of the box.

A quick check on its firmware version revealed the Froyo (Android 2.2) variant, which gives us Flash 10.1 support and Wi-Fi tethering.

The lure of the green droid is in its flexibility when it comes to customization. Dell is definitely not shy in that aspect, and went ahead to toss in a few changes to its interface. Focusing on the widget realm, Dell introduced Stage Widgets, which covers basic features such as contacts, email, gallery, home, music, social and web. What caught our attention was the social widget, which gives you a quick glimpse of your Facebook or Twitter feeds. While each social widget allows you only one specific social network, you can add multiple social widgets, up to the 7-page limit of the Android home screen.

Dubbed as Stage Widgets, these widgets are linked to the basic features of the Streak.

You can choose to have Twitter or Facebook on your social widget...

...which gives you a glimpse of your social network news feed.

In line with its tablet identity, you get the Kindle and Zinio app preloaded onto the Streak. The former will be favorite if you're an avid book reader. In our opinion, at 5-inches, the display is still relatively comfortable for book reading. Zinio, on the other hand, might not get the optimum treatment. The magazine content on Zinio is better suited for a larger screen, say the iPad, or if you're not too picky, maybe the the Galaxy Tab's 7-inch display.

Reading Zinio magazines such as our very own HWM in there (forgive us for the shameless plug!) might be a bit tough on the 5-inch display.

Talking about displays, the Streak uses a capacitive touch screen at a resolution of 800 x 480 pixels with multi-touch capabilities - fairly common aspects which are available on smaller smartphones. To give it a slight boost, it uses the same Gorilla Glass display as the Galaxy Tab and the iPhone 4. On paper, it's supposedly scratch resistant and much more durable than your usual glass panels. But we  would still advise due caution and care to be taken for the Streak's display.

The Gorilla Glass display might be scratch-resistant, but its casing might not be as resilient.

Preloading the Streak with apps is just one of its added bonus. As mentioned earlier, the flexibility of the Android OS gives Dell the option to customize its interface. Nonetheless, the customization is more for practicality's sake. One apparent change is its menu, adopting a horizontal (in-line with its landscape orientation) scrolling instead of Google's original vertical scrolling. Swype is also included as the default input method. As such, you don't have to laboriously type on the Google keyboard, and have an easier time swiping letters on the keyboard to get your message out quickly and accurately.

The menu uses horizontal scrolling to suit the Streak's default landscape orientation.

We swear by Swype, one of the most accurate and quickest input methods on mobile devices.

The Good
Pleasing aesthetics
Practical widgets
Responsive and intuitive user interface
The Bad
Unresponsive touch buttons
Poor imaging quality
Flushed buttons

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