Is bigger better?

Between the onslaught of large-screen smartphones and the emergence of tablets, we're being asked as consumers to answer a question the manufacturers themselves seem unable to answer definitively: how big do we want our mobile screens? Dell has answered that question with a 5-inch display on the Dell Streak and brought it into the CNET Australia office to let us see for ourselves.

The Streak has just been launched in the UK and will soon see the inside of phone stores in the US. Dell can't yet commit to a release date in Australia, though we got the distinct impression that several Aussie telcos could be interested in the Streak and we could see it down under sooner rather than later.

With a 5-inch diagonal screen measure, the Dell Streak appears enormous at first glance. Next to other smatphones, the Streak seems much bigger than it actually is, but if this seems like a problem as you weigh it up in your hands or test it out in your pocket, the trouble fades as soon as you start playing with the screen and navigating through the menus or browsing the web.

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Better browsing?

Apple has made an interesting play with the iPad this year, suggesting that we would prefer two different devices for making calls, multimedia and web browsing, when the same tasks can essentially be performed by the same device. We don't agree, and would much prefer to use just one device for all of these now-common tasks.

The Streak displays about 80 per cent of the main content section of the CNET Australia website, meaning that at the default zoom level you will have to scroll horizontally to view all of the page's content. At this zoom level we found it was easy to read all the text on the page without touching the zoom controls. At the time of writing, the Streak runs on Android 1.6 and will need to run on 2.2 before being able to install Flash 10.1, but the Dell reps said this firmware upgrade was definitely on the roadmap.

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The Streak features the same basic navigation controls of all Android phones, using a capacitive touch system rather than physical keys. While we're on the subject of Navmans, Dell also plans to sell a few accessories for the Streak, including a car kit with a built-in charger.

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Below this enormous Dell logo you'll find a sizeable 1530mAh capacity battery and a microSD card slot, which Dell is hoping to fill with a 16GB card. This memory card would supplement the 1GB of internal memory inside the Streak.

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Like the iPhone 4 and unlike most Android phones, the Streak features a forward-facing camera for video calling. You may have also noticed the Streak's 5-megapixel camera in the previous slide, complete with a dual-LED flash.

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Super slim for skinny jeans

Though the screen of the Streak looks enormous compared with other phones, the handset's slim profile is its saving grace. At 10mm thick and weighing 220 grams, the Streak is thinner than most phones and only slightly heavier. Compare this with the iPad's 9.7-inch screen and 750-gram weight and the Streak is considerably lighter per inch of screen.

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Apparently this was one of the major considerations in using a 5-inch display, it being the maximum size for a phone that can still slip easily into a shirt pocket.

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Alongside the optional car kit, Streak owners can also choose to purchase this sexy dock, perfect for mounting the phone by your bed before sleep or using the Streak as a photo frame.

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Multimedia out

The dock also features video and audio out via an HDMI port and a 3.5mm headphone socket.

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