Dell’s tiny Streak tablet takes on iPad

Dell Streak: Too Little, Too Late

The Dell Streak tablet-smartphone crossover goes on pre-sale today, tackling Apple’s iPad, iPod Touch, and iPhone devices in one go. The Streak, however, sends mixed messages regarding its size, price, and viability as a replacement to any of your Apple devices. So, can it make the cut?

The Streak arrives in the U.S. after several delays (it was available two months ago in Europe), and will cost $300 with a two-year AT&T contract, or $550 without. It has a 5-inch touchscreen, works as a phone as well, and comes with Google’s Android 1.6 mobile operating system. In a nutshell: too little, too late. Here’s why.

Most high-end smartphones now come at $200 with a two-year contract. That includes the Apple iPhone 4, the Motorola Droid X and upcoming Droid 2, or the BlackBerry Torch. The Streak, which serves as a smartphone as well, comes in at $300, its 5-inch screen is only 0.7-inch larger that of the Droid X, and the resolution is lower than iPhone 4’s 3.5-inch Retina display.

On the tablet front, the Streak doesn’t fare any better either. It’s $50 more expensive than the cheapest iPad, when bought unlocked as a tablet. Price difference aside, the streak’s screen is only half as large as the iPad’s. What the Streak has over the iPad is the 5-megapixel camera on the back, and a front-facing VGA camera.

When compared to the iPod Touch, the Dell Streak is $100 more expensive, if you want to use it as a multimedia device. Of course, the iPod touch lacks dual cameras and 3G capabilities. Darin Fireball’s John Gruber threw a bone speculating that Apple will release a dual-camera, Retina display-laden iPod Touch next month, making the Streak irrelevant if this proves to be true.

Software-wise, Dell’s Streak will come with a year-old version of Google Android OS, namely 1.6. The current version of Android is 2.2, and it already started to trickle down to several smartphones using the OS. Dell said it will offer an over-the-air upgrade to Android 2.2 “later this year,” but gave no specific date.

The Dell Streak’s screen size is too big for the device to be used as a smartphone (it would cover half of your face when talking), but yet too small in comparison to other tablets on the market.

The pricing of the Streak doesn’t help Dell either, as it’s more expensive than a phone, or a tablet as well. The software on the Streak is ancient in comparison to Android smartphones on sale now, and the AT&T-only contract could set off some of the users who want to avoid the iPhone-clogged network.

Is the Dell Streak something you would consider instead of a smartphone? Would it be an alternative for the iPad or other Android tablets? Do you think the Streak’s price is too high for either the smartphone or tablet categories? Sound off in the comments.

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