The first thing you’ll notice about the Dell Streak is it’s size. There’s no way your not going to notice, this is one big device for something that is classed as a Smartphone. In reality, it feels more like a tablet that’s had phone capability wedged into it. Does this make it a smartphone? Who cares. It’s a big ass device that runs Android 1.6 and yes, you could use it as your phone, as many people are already.
It’s only been out just over a week, but when I had a play in the O2 shop, I had to take one away with me. You can see the unboxing in an earlier post by me. Here is the first problem though, it’s locked to O2 who apparently have no intention of unlocking it for anyone within the first 12 months. Some people have been promised an unlock code within 14 days, but I’ve also seen comment from someone from O2 saying these people are mistaken (the O2 reps) and no unlock codes will be given out for the streak.
I’ve tried a Rebel Sim II, which says it’s using the Orange network of my usual device, but then I don’t think I can recieve any phone calls and I definitely see any paid apps in the market. I’ve swapped back to the new O2 data only PATG SIM that I got with the device. £10 a month gives me 1gig, or I could move to £15 a month for 3 gig. That doesn’t seem a bad deal for data, but it did leave me paying top whack of £399 for the device.
Lets move on to the hardware itself. After you’ve been amazed by the screen real estate, you’ll probably notice how thin the Streak is. At just inder 10mm thick it’s actually thinner than my Nexus One, which is kind of impressive. At 15cm by 8cm it dwarfs the N1 and Desire when put side by side.
The screen is a 5″ TFT, which does mean the colours aren’t quite as strong as it’s AMOLED counterpart, the reds and oranges don’t really pop like they do on the Nexus One. This is still an fantastic screen though, it makes watching movies or TV a real possibility.
You can clearly see there is better colour and detail from the Streak Camera. This is a pretty big advantage, considering how much people love to take pictures and upload to Facebook or Tweet them while they’re out and about.
I might be a bit unfair in judging the battery life after one two full charges, but as you might suspect from such a big device, it isn’t all that great. The first charge lasted around 11 hours before I was down to 20%, now it would appear to be using around 5-7% per hour, with quite low usage. I fear if I was to play a game for half an hour or so, I would probably use 5-8% in one go. For me, this isn’t enough for a day to day device. If I leave the house at 7am, I want to know it wont need charging before I get home at around 7pm and with the streak, I just wouldn’t have confidence in this. If anything should happen, like I go to the pub after work, almost definitely this wouldn’t last. It’s a real shame, but at the same time, with such a big screen over the top of the 1ghz CPU, it’s not all that surprising. If I find in the next few charges the life improves a lot, I’ll update with more information.
Running on top of this hardware is Android 1.6, which was a bit of a concern for me initially. I have to say, having used it, you don’t really notice. It’s very fast, very smooth but does occassionally ‘lock up’ for 5 to 6 seconds. The ability to have so many icons and widgets on screen (4 by 8 as opposed to 4 by 4 on most Android devices) means I’ve not even come close to filling the 3 homescreens, or ‘rooms’ you start with, but if needed I can easily add more to go up to 6 rooms. That would be enough space for 192 icons!
The homescreens only work in landscape, which seems a bit of a shame, but at the same time you get used to using the device in that aspect and soon find yourself using apps in landscape that would be better off in portrait. Of course apps will rotate as you stand the device upright.
It is possible to install custom launchers on it, like ADW Launcher which lets you change how many columns and rows the app drawer has, which is very useful. At this point though, your left with just 4 by 4 on the homescreen, which is rather a waste on this beautiful big screen.
Games look amazing on this screen. I tried Raging Thunder 2 and I could really play the game. I could see what was going on and felt like I was playing something like a PSP. Robo Defence is also great, you can actually see the whole playing field! A couple of games struggle with the size though, images not filling the whole screen. This I don’t really understand, as far as I know it’s still an 800 by 480 screen, which is the same as the Nexus One and Desire. But things don’t look the same. You can see many more apps on the market or many more files on DropBox for example. I assume this is down to resizing fonts… but that would explain why when playing Abduction, the image of the ground only stretches across half the bottom of the screen?
The Streak has been rooted already, not being quite so locked up as some of the newer devices, but as yet no developer has really got hold of this device, so there are no custom ROM’s out there to try.
Browsing the internet’s a joy on this device. There’s no need to use mobile versions of websites, you can pretty much see everything on your screen if you stay landscape. Pages load quick, but of course flash is not supported at this point, although I could see and play the YouTube videos on our homepage, which I couldn’t on my Nexus until the 2.2 update.
It seems pretty quick too. You can see in this browser test, it only just gets beaten by my overclocked FroYo Nexus One –
The Nexus One loads the majority of the page very quick but takes a little while to finish, but then the Dell seems to throw it all up in one go, just after the Nexus One.
I’m used to using Swype on my N1, but found the Streak keyboard very nice to use in both portrait and landscape. I love having numbers available without having to press an Alt key. The drawback is, when in landscape, it’s hard to reach letters with your right thumb, as it has to reach past the numeric keyboard. If you ley the device flat on a desk, you can one finger type pretty quick on the screen, although often I found the device has ‘lag’ and I had to slow down for it to catch up.
Considering the Nexus One will score in the region of 40Mflops in Linpack, when running 2.2, the Desire will score around 7, it’s a little disappointing that this only scores 4Mflops. There is talk that FroYo will be coming to it before the year’s out, which I would imagine will push it into the 20′s, but until then, it’s rather the low powered option.
After only a couple of days use, I love this device but find myself wondering if I can justify keeping it (O2 have a 14 day money back guarentee). Even if I can get it unlocked to use my Orange SIM, I think it’s just too big to be kept in my jean pocket. The low benchmark which probably leads to the occasional lock up and keyboard lag also nags at me.
I’ll probably return this in a few days and will keep an eye on the ROM scene. If someone can port a FroYo ROM to the Streak, which opens up the performance a little, I might be tempted to have another go.
I can’t deny, right now with them both sat on my desk, if I wanted to check e-mail, look up something on Google Maps or just check my Astrid ToDo list, it’s the Streak I reach for, but at £400 and £10 a month, can I justify that?
What it has made me realise is that I do want a tablet. If I kept the Streak it would generally be for about the house. If that’s what I want it for, I might as well get something that’s 7″ or 9 plus inches.