Though the SD card slot was a nice gesture toward ease of use, Dell had to go and throw its proprietary 30-pin connector on the bottom, making charging and syncing the device a bit of a hassle. Once connected to your computer, the Streak appears as an external USB drive and comes preloaded with DoubleTwist software for syncing and managing media. It's not the elegant plug-and-play of the iPad and iTunes, but it gets you close.
Of course, the biggest feature the Streak 7 has to offer is compatibility with T-Mobile's 4G wireless network. Because 4G is still in its early rollout phase, coverage will vary from location to location, so check with T-Mobile's 4G coverage map before making the jump. For us, the 4G speed enabled faster loading for YouTube videos, with less frequent dropouts. We'll update this review with test results from the CNET Labs with a more in-depth speed comparison once results are available.
From an app perspective, Dell and T-Mobile throw in a few gems worth your attention, including games (Asphalt 5, Let's Golf), music-streaming services (mSpot, Slacker), e-readers (Kindle, Zinio), and video-streaming apps (Blockbuster, T-Mobile TV, and YouTube). Because the Streak 7 has received Google's blessing, you also get unfettered access to the Android Market, and Goole's suite of mobile apps, including Latitude, Maps, Navigation, Places, and Google Talk.
Unfortunately, app performance is no better on the Streak 7 than it was on the Samsung Galaxy Tab or any other Android 2.2 tablet we've seen. The awkwardness of running smartphone apps on a tablet-size screen is still no easier to accept in 2011 than it was in 2010, and will likely not be solved for Android devices until Android Honeycomb makes its way into the world. At the time of this review, Dell has made no statements assuring that the Dell Streak 7 will be compatible with future versions of Android.
Aside from the Streak 7's 4G network compatibility, it isn't particularly swift or responsive when it comes to general tasks, such as navigating, composing e-mail or browsing the Web. Dell promises there's an Nvidia T-20 Tegra chip under the hood, but for the most part, we found the Samsung Galaxy Tab outperformed the Streak 7 in common tasks.
In spite of the aid of haptic feedback and Swype touch-screen keyboard technology, typing on the Streak 7 lagged behind that of the Tab and the iPad, and keypad accuracy was noticeably fickle, requiring longer presses to register input. Linger too long, though, and you may inadvertently kick in the Swype system, which predicts your text when you swipe your finger across groups of letters. In short, the Streak 7 is not a typing champ. We actually found the originaleasier to type with.
Another performance disappointment is screen quality. Sporting an 800x480-pixel resolution screen with only average viewing angles, the Streak 7 appears dull sitting beside the vibrant, smooth 1,024x600-pixel resolution display on the Galaxy Tab.
For Web browsing, putting aside the touch-screen keyboard issues, there's some noticeable system lag when it comes to scrolling though pages. We still haven't seen any tablet that can stand up to the iPad in this regard, on which Web pages seemingly glide across the screen on their own imaginary momentum--but the Streak 7 is no step forward for Android tablets.
Finally there's battery life, which never seems to be a strong suit in 4G devices. The Streak 7 is no exception, requiring frequent recharges during our review process and running down rapidly even while in standby mode. Battery conserving measures, such as switching off 4G, GPS, and Bluetooth, and turning down screen brightness, are all recommended tactics in the device manual. At the time of this review, Dell hasn't published an official battery life rating, but we think it's fair to say that if the company could brag about it, it would. Here are our official CNET Labs tested results. More tablet testing results can be found here.
|Video battery life (in hours)||Web site load time (in seconds; lower is better)||Maximum brightness (in cd/m2)||Default brightness (in cd/m2)||Contrast ratio|