Dell's 5in. Android tablet, the Streak, is now available from O2 and Carphone Warehouse. Later this month, you'll also be able to buy it from Dell's UK web site. US customers will have to wait until later in the summer for their Streaks.O2's tarriffs include free devices on 24-month data-only (£25/month) and voice-plus-data (£35/month) contracts. You pay £399 for the Streak with a pay-as-you-go SIM and business contracts are also available from £25.53 a month for 3GB of mobile data and unlimited Wi-Fi. Carphone Warehouse also sells the Streak unlocked for £429 (inc. VAT) — exactly the same price as Apple's entry-level iPad.
Dell describes the Streak as a 'hybrid device', straddling the divide between a smartphone and a web tablet or netbook. In fact, with its 5in., 800-by-480-pixel screen and 220g weight, it's much closer to a smartphone such as the HTC Desire (3.7in., 480x800, 135g) than a web tablet like Apple's iPad (9.7in., 1,024x768, 680g).
The Streak's dimensions — 152.9mm by 79.1mm by 9.98mm — are small enough for you to be able to put the quad-band GSM device to your ear to make a phone call without looking conspicuously odd. You'll probably want to use a Bluetooth headset most of the time though. A feature we're pleased to see is the use of extra-tough Gorilla Glass for the screen.
Like many high-end Android smartphones, the Streak uses a 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor. It has 512MB of ROM and 512MB of RAM, plus 2GB of internal memory for system and application files. Further storage is available via a microSD slot, and the device comes with a 16GB card.
At the moment, the Streak runs the distinctly long-in-the-tooth version 1.6 of Android, but Dell says it will support over-the-air updates for platform upgrades and will push out Android 2.2 and Flash 10.1 later this year.
As well as quad-band GSM, the Streak has mobile broadband in the shape of HSPA at 7.2Mbps downstream and 5.76Mbps upstream (network coverage permitting), plus Wi-Fi (802.11b/g) and Bluetooth (2.1+EDR).
Unlike the iPad, the Streak has a webcam — two of them, in fact: a 5-megapixel unit with dual LED flash at the back and a front-facing VGA camera. The 1,530mAh battery is removable, and the headset jack is a standard 3.5mm unit.
Dell provides some interface enhancements on the Streak's implementation of Android, including multi-touch support and extra information in the notifications panel. Business users will appreciate full Exchange support courtesy of NitroDesk's TouchDown. Other software highlights include Google Voice support, integrated Google Maps (with turn-by-turn navigation, satellite and street views), integrated social media apps (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube) and Android Market.
Has Dell's Streak found a sweet spot that can satisfactorily accommodate both 'walking about' (smartphone) and 'sofa' (tablet) computing? That will require a full review, which we'll be supplying as soon as possible.