Hands On With The Dell Streak: Five Inches Of Fun

Dell first showed off their five-inch, Android running tablet/smartphone hybrid back at CES. This morning, the guys from Dell Australia gave me the chance to have a play with the device. And I have to say that over the 30 minutes or so I was playing with it, the Streak really grew on me.

It’s an interesting proposition – bigger than any other smartphone on the market, yet smaller than all the other tablets you’ve seen. The Streak easily slides into your pocket, yet feels kind of clunky when you put it up against your ear. Not impossibly clunky though – just a bit bigger and awkward compared to the past trend of constantly shrinking mobile phones.

The device is running Android 1.6, with only minor customisations from Dell. They claim that this will make it much easier to upgrade the device to Froyo, should they decide to do that some time in the future. There are six customisable home pages, and adding apps is as easy as the Android Marketplace.

One of the most striking aspects of the device itself is the screen. WVGA at 480 x 800 pixels, the screen looks fantastic with both SD and HD content. But what impressed me the most was when playing back a standard 4:3 ratio YouTube clip, the vertical black bars on the screen blended in seemlessly with the phone’s black aesthetic, as though there weren’t any bars on the screen at all.

The 5MP camera takes both stills and video – using it is kind of awkward given the device’s size, yet not to the point that it’s too difficult to use. Having a 3.5mm headphone jack on the side could be problematic though.

Dell showed me an optional docking station that includes an HDMI output, stereo line out for a pair of speakers and USB connections. And that’s very clever – considering the device’s large screen and powerful Snapdragon processor, the Streak suddenly becomes a great tool for people on the road regularly.

The guys from Dell made it exceptionally clear that the hands on they gave me this morning is not an indication that they’re planning on launching the device in Australia. Yet the language they used seemed to indicate that they want the device to launch, and they want it to launch soon. And you can see why – in a crowded smartphone marketplace, the Streak stands out for its size. Sure you need to compromise, especially when making or receiving phone calls and placing the device up against your head, but the added screen size could make it all worthwhile.

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