Make no mistake: Dell will not be sitting out the Tablet Wars the way it did during the Struggle Against Smartphones. No, Dell is fighting, and by that I mean it is intent on pouring money into what is obviously a hole of futility.
Its latest volley in the skirmish is the Dell Streak 7, an overgrown version of the 5-inch tablet it kinda-sorta released last year. And in most ways the Streak 7 is a typical Dell affair: foolishly overdesigned in an attempt to stand out, and coming up short all around.
The size (7 inches diagonal) and operating system (dusty old Android 2.2) pit the Streak 7 squarely against the Samsung Galaxy Tab. Sadly, that is a battle that the Streak loses on virtually every front. Are looks important to you? The weird slopes and baffling button placement of the Streak 7 make it less comfortable to hold and far less pretty than the Tab. Or perhaps you’d like a something with a really nice display? The Streak 7 is an utter disaster on this front. It’s bad enough that the 800 x 480 display looks visibly chunky, but the viewing angle is so poor that moving your head even a few degrees from dead center creates a screen-door effect so bad that it borders on nauseating. It’s not just the worst tablet display I’ve ever seen, it’s the worst display of any kind I’ve seen since the dawn of the LCD screen.
Other drawbacks are palpable but pale next to the screen debacle: The Streak 7 can’t charge at all via USB — not even trickle charge. It needs wall power, and it gets incredibly hot to the touch after a few hours of use. Well, after an hour of use: We thought we were in for an easy “Tired” when we read reports that the Streak 7 could only muster five hours of battery life vs. seven or more for its competition. We were aghast when it turned out that the tablet crapped out after a mere two hours (and three minutes!) of video watching on the device (tested with radios on).
There is but one bright spot with the Streak 7, and that is performance: Equipped with the hype-fueled Nvidia Tegra 2 processor, the tablet absolutely rips at web page rendering, app loading, running Flash, and just about everything else. If we could actually make out the display, and the battery alert wasn’t constantly threatening to shut the thing down, it’d be totally awesome.
- Hands-On With T-Mobile’s 7-Inch Tablet, Due Feb. 2
- Report: HTC Planning Three Android Tablets in 2011
- Steve Jobs Says 7-Inch Tablets Are ‘Dead on Arrival’
- Acer to Phase Out Netbooks in Favor of Tablets
- Dell Streak Smears Line Between Phone and Tablet
Photos: Jonathan Snyder/get-gadget