Dell Streak review: Size does matter
Camera is a mixed bag
The Dell Streak packs a 5MP camera, which seems to be the norm for higher end Androids these days, but is the best you can get on a tablet. There’s also a dual-LED flash that makes it somewhat usable in low-light conditions.
The user interface is not particularly comfortable with more room available to the latest photos than the customizable settings. The recent pics have their own tab on the right, where the still camera/camcorder switch also goes, while the flash settings for example are only revealed after you slide the list to the right.
On the positive side there are a good number of customizable settings, including brightness, contrast, white balance and flicker adjustment. Geotagging is also available as well as compression (quality) and resolution settings.
You do get a dedicated shutter key too, which takes usability to a much higher level even with a screen this big. Touch focus however isn’t enabled.
The quality of the images, captured with the Streak shooter is hardly impressive. Excessive sharpening, a distinct yellow tint and large noise patches plague the images. Fine detail is lost as a result of poorly tweaked noise-reduction. On the positive side contrast is good and even after the aggressive processing there’s enough detail left so we guess, the optics is pretty good quality too.
We also snapped our resolution chart with the Dell Streak. You can check out what that test is all about here.
VGA video no longer cuts it
There are a few dozens of 720p-recording devices out there so you can imagine why we aren’t particularly impressed with the Dell Streak’s VGA videos.
To make it worse, the framerate isn’t particularly smooth, rarely exceeding 20 fps. The videos have the same yellow tint as the still photos and obviously suffer from compression. Resolved detail and dynamic range are mediocre and the interface is not particularly comfortable either.
All in out we wouldn’t recommend the Dell Streak to anyone that’s into recording videos. Even less so, considering that devices capable of capturing better video can be found for a fraction of the price.
The situation improves once the Dell Streak is updated to Android 2.1 Eclair/2.2 Froyo, which bump the video recording resolution to 720p.
Here's a video sample found on YouTube, shot with a Dell Streak updated to Eclair. The frame rate hasn't improved and there's heavy rolling shutter effect.
The Dell Streak is a well equipped device that won’t let you down when it comes to securing an internet connection wherever you go. To begin with, there’s quad-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE and dual-band 3G with network data speeds potentially reaching 7.2 Mbps for downloads and up to 5.76 Mbps for uploads.
As for local connectivity, you get Wi-Fi (b/g), Bluetooth v2.0 with A2DP support and USB v2.0. The only things missing are Wi-Fi N connectivity or the latest Bluetooth 3.0. Those are still pretty rare anyway.
Much like the Samsung Galaxy Tab (or the iPad), the Dell Streak uses a non-standard 30-pin port instead of microUSB. This could have been OK if Dell Streak had HDMI support. that’s not the case though and the only point is to limit users in their choice of accessories.
The Dell Streak has no inbuilt storage but it supports microSD cards of up to 32GB. Dell were kind enough to drop a 16GB card in the retail box.
The 3.5 mm standard audio port completes the connectivity rundown. You can keep your favorite headphones and use them with the Dell Streak hassle-free.
The web browser lacks Flash (for now)
The web browser has always been an Android forte and under Froyo it’s probably the best you can get. Unfortunately, the Froyo update for Dell Streak is still to come and you’ll have to settle for a Donut browser and no Flash support.
The user interface of the Streak browser is similar to what you see on other Donut-running smartphones. All you get on the screen is the static address bar and four virtual controls around it – back, forward, refresh and history.
The Dell Streak offers only pinch-zooming, but we think it’s more than enough. It works like a charm, but what bothers us is the scrolling. Whether you have zoomed on the page or not, scrolling is really slow and in time this becomes quite irritating.
The overall browser performance is a mixed-bag. Pages load very fast, but as you start hitting links there’s lagging and sluggish scrolling.
Hitting the Menu key brings up a pop up menu to let you select text, search on page, manage your bookmarks, share the page, view downloads or the currently opened tabs, etc.
The bookmark section keeps a list of the bookmarked pages and you also get a “most visited” list in addition to the history. The Window Overview shows thumbnails of your currently active tabs.
Web browsing being the main reason to consider a tablet, we can conclude the Streak doesn’t quite stand comparison to the Galaxy Tab. There’s no Flash support, scrolling is slow and the overall performance is far from convincing. We know Froyo will address most of those issues, but the Streak should have been released with Android 2.1 or 2.2 in the first place.