Dell Streak - Split Personalities

Launch SRP: S$938

Performance

Two is Better than One
 

The Hardware Checklist

To put things into perspective, we need to examine what the Streak is capable of with its hardware features. Powering the Streak is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 1GHz processor, the underlying chip that's a common sight with smartphones of a higher tier. That gives us a clue on how the Streak should perform on a comparative scale with similar devices such as the HTC Desire, or even Windows Phone 7 devices that have been stipulated to use the same Qualcomm processor. There were times when the unit was slow to respond to our commands, especially when we tapped on the touch buttons to access the menu, or return to the previous app or home page. While it might be sluggish in the transition, the Streak still performed decently when it was heavily loaded with apps, which is mostly apparent from the smooth operation via its customized user interface (as discussed in the Features page). Its user interface is considerably above average in terms of usability. And it helps that the Streak is loaded with Android 2.2, which comes with improved features such as Wi-Fi tethering and most importantly, Flash 10.1 support.

 

All About Performance

On its own, the Streak's audio playback wasn't sub-par, but neither was it boosted with audio enhancing equalizers. But if you aren't too concerned with this, we do think you don't need any equalizer settings to have an enjoyable audio experience with the Streak. The video experience, however, depends on how you perceive the Streak. Remember, the Streak is designed with a 5-inch screen, a supposedly suitable size that should satisfy those who are looking for a comfortable screen, without the bulk. But consider this - if you rather have more real estate to read your magazines, news or more importantly, videos, the Streak's 5-inch screen can't give you the same comfort level for your eyes as what the Galaxy Tab or iPad can. However, if your mindset is locked on the Streak as a smartphone, you won't find fault with the viewing space you get for your messages and emails.Though video playback was smooth and handled well with minimal frame loss, the 5-inch screen and the Streak's 800 x 480 pixels display resolution doesn't seem to be a good match for the fact that videos have a tendency to look less sharp.

Similar to the Galaxy Tab, the Streak comes with two cameras - one at the front for video calls, whilst the rear houses a 5-megapixel sensor with dual LED flashes. During our daily tests, we noted some photos that brought up some concerns over its quality. Our resolution and color charts came in handy to see if that is the case, and the results do confirm our initial impressions. On the resolution chart, we noticed a high noise level, which was especially prominent at the edges of the line readings. Our tests also push the camera's white balance to the limit with a tungsten light source, with the color chart reporting on its performance. The end result was warm colors on the palette, and we also have noise issues on the edges of the color chart. Our final check ended with a standard image, which definitely showed a lack of detail and sharpness for a cluster of fine objects, such as fur details of our test subject.

To end off the performance test, we put the Streak to the battery test. While it is also designated as a tablet, we decided to subject the Streak to the smartphone battery tests to give a clearer indication of where its mileage stands. This means we'll be looping a video of 240 x 320 pixels resolution endlessly on the Streak at 100% volume and brightness. Wireless connectivity options such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, with data constantly pushed to the Streak via Twitter or emails, were added in to push the device to its limits. The Streak is compared against the HTC Desire HD, Samsung Galaxy S and HTC Desire for two important reasons - similar hardware specifications (especially on the display size and processor) and its operating system - Google Android

Specifications/Device Dell Streak HTC Desire HD Samsung Galaxy S HTC Desire
Connectivity
  • Wi-Fi 802.11b/g
  • Bluetooth 2.0 + A2DP
  • HSDPA
  • GPS with A-GPS
  • Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 2.1 + A2DP
  • HSDPA
  • GPS with A-GPS
  • Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 3.0 + A2DP
  • HSDPA
  • GPS with A-GPS
  • Wi-Fi 802.11b/g
  • Bluetooth 2.1 + A2DP
  • HSDPA
  • GPS with A-GPS
Dimensions
  • 152.9 X 79.1 X 10mm
  • 123 x 68 x 11.8mm
  • 122.4 x 64.2 x 9.9mm
  • 119 x 60 x 11.9mm
Weight
  • 220g
  • 164g
  • 119g
  • 135g
Screen size
  • 5.0-inch, 480 x 800 pixels
  • 4.3-inch, 4800 x 800 pixels
  • 4.0-inch, 480 x 800 pixels
  • 3.7-inch, 480 x 800 pixels
Battery
  • 1530 mAh
  • 1230 mAh
  • 1500 mAh
  • 1400 mAh

The results didn't really surprise us. With its battery capacity rated higher at 1530mAh, the Streak managed a longer up-time against the Desire HD with a lower battery capacity, in spite of a smaller 4.3-inch screen. Though its mileage is a close match to the first HTC Desire, do note that the Desire sports a smaller 3.7-inch display, and our tests for the Desire were conducted on its first production batch using OLED display, which is a power-saver compared to the Streak's LCD display. Similarly, the Galaxy S, which uses Samsung's Super AMOLED display, shows itself to be the reigning power efficient device by lasting at least an hour above the Streak's limit.

Even though the Streak has the edge in its overall battery life against the Desire HD and Desire, its portability index isn't going to score very well due to its heavier weight and larger dimensions. From the above chart, you can see how it stacks up against the other three devices. This is where the Streak's position as a smartphone might suffer a hit for its less than compact nature.

Putting the Streak to our day-to-day use as typical smartphone with voice calls and intermittent data usage, the Streak lasted for around 12 hours on a single charge. You might find this to be an oddity, but the truth is, the earlier battery test is a harsh test that's designed to highlight the lower limit of your device's mileage. Beyond that, how you use the device, and its ability to handle the power drain from each feature, is very subjective. In this aspect, the Streak doesn't do well to entertain you over a long stretch.

For a parallel comparison of how it stacks up against the Apple iPad and Samsung Galaxy Tab, you could refer to this page. Note that a more taxing video clip was employed to test a true tablet with Wi-Fi enabled but no 3G services. As such, the numbers and comparisons aren't ideal, but they do give a rough idea where the Streak stands among them.  Where battery up-time is concerned, it would seem that the Dell Streak is almost on par with the Samsung Galaxy Tab, but once you factor in the screen size differential and the test clip type, the Tab is the better contender if size isn't an issue. Of course, the iPad is still reigning in sheer battery life but not as great in portability. In a nut shell, our above conclusion still stands as the Streak isn't a very convincing entertainment device. It tries its best, but there are limitations to what it can do.

7.0
Design
7.5
Features
7.5
User-Friendliness
7
Performance
7
Value
7
The Good
Pleasing aesthetics
Practical widgets
Responsive and intuitive user interface
The Bad
Unresponsive touch buttons
Poor imaging quality
Flushed buttons