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Blackberry Mobility Featured Article

May 27, 2010

Dell's Streak Tablet: What the U.K. Debut and Device Will Mean

By Doug Mohney, Contributing Editor

Dell dares to be different in the tablet world - or is it?

Dell has officially announced it will launch Streak, an Android (News - Alert)-based tablet, in early June. Interestingly, Dell is launching its new device in the United Kingdom first -- not the United States -- and the device itself is smaller than the iPad. Will smaller mean better?

The Dell (News - Alert) Streak will be launched in early June in the United Kingdom exclusively on the O2 network. Pricing and UK data plans will be announced closer to launch date, with the Streak available at O2 stores, the O2 website, The Carephone Warehouse, and later in the month -- another interesting point -- through Dell.co.uk.

Later this summer, the Streak will be made available in the United States. Dell is being tight-lipped as to which U.S. carriers would have the tablet or if there would be a CDMA, LTE, or WiMAX version (i.e. Verizon, Sprint (News - Alert), or Clear) available, so right now it is the 'usual' GSM-running suspects of AT&T and/or T-Mobile USA until an announcement is made.

Dell Streak TabletThis isn't the first time Dell has rolled out a new mobile device overseas before hitting the United States. Dell's first Android phones appeared in China and its second generation of Android phones are expected to appear in the United States later this year, if the rumors are to be believed.

Launching a new tablet in the United Kingdom means that Dell gets compete with the iPad in a market where Apple is only starting to launch its product. But it won't be a head-to-head duel by any means, because the Streak is a different animal than the iPad.

Dell is positioning the Streak as hitting a 'sweet spot' between traditional-sized smart phones and larger-screen tablets with its 5 inch display roughly half the size of the iPad. Under the hood, the Streak uses the 1 GHz Qualcomm (News - Alert) Snapdragon -- currently the 'in' CPU for hot phones -- 2 GB of internal storage, a micro SD slot for up to 32GB of removable storage, 3G, 802.11 b/g WiFi and Bluetooth. Cellular connectivity includes the usual UMTS/GPRS/EDGE/GSM and HSDPA acronyms with a max link speed of 7.2 Mbps; not bad, but not the latest and greatest.

The device also includes a 5 megapixel camera with dual-LED flash, a VGA front-facing camera for video chat, and will be loaded with 'integrated' Google Maps and support for Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube (News - Alert) apps.

Code geeks will be a bit bummed that Streak will come with Android 1.6 at launch, but the device will get an Android 2.2. upgrade later in the year, including support for Adobe Flash 10.1. I'm also not sure that a total of 34GB of flash memory between onboard and micro SD is just right or a little tight; maybe being able not to load the full 'Lost' series on your phone is a good thing.

If we take a step back from the 'Tablet' marketing speak, the Streak looks like a bigger iPhone competitor rather than an iPad killer. And Dell has already that it will build a family of tablets with bigger screens, so the Streak gives Dell the opportunity to put the baseline hardware through its paces before introducing more -- and more expensive -- models that will be directly compared to the iPad.

About the most interesting data point is the one to be announced later -- the price. Will the Streak be cost-competitive with the iPhone and other Snapdragon-based Android phones or be higher because it has a bigger screen? We'll find that out in a week or two.

Doug Mohney is a contributing editor for TMCnet and a 20-year veteran of the ICT space. To read more of his articles, please visit columnist page.

Edited by Michael Dinan

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