If I'm looking at my calendar correctly, we're entering what amounts to the second full week of July, or the seventh month of the year. Thinking back to late last year in the months leading up to CES 2010, there were rumors and sightings of some exciting new products on the horizon. From Dell, in October we first saw the innovative Dell Streak, an Android-based tablet with a 5-inch screen and cell phone functionality. On the other side, we had a cool little clamshell UMPC that would be called the Viliv N5, which was basically a continuation of Viliv's popular S5 tablet with the addition of a keyboard.
The whole reason I'm even looking at my calendar is because it's time to start thinking about CES for 2011, where hopefully I'll be able to check out the upcoming Dell Streak and Viliv N5 – oh, wait a minute! Didn't these already come out months ago? What's that you say? They're not out yet, but coming soon? Seriously? Silly me, I thought the second versions are the ones we were talking about, but I vividly remember actually seeing and using one of the N5 units at Viliv's booth, and Dynamism is just now taking preorders on the model from last year?
Exaggerations aside, the delay from both companies has been ridiculous and, dare I say, unwarranted. But luckily with all of this extra time for my sanity to kick in and ask why I need these devices that I so lusted after all those months ago, I've come to one conclusion. I'm not buying either device, even if for no reason but pure spite. Dell Streak and Viliv N5, consider yourselves boycotted.
You're probably thinking that I've just had a bad day or maybe bumped my head into a wall a few times, but hear me out. I know the Streak is sorta-kinda available, at least in the UK and to those lucky Austinites just an hour up I-35 from me that are participating in some super-secret Dell beta test. Jenn even has two of them, one from the UK and one from the US, so we do at least have real proof that the number of Streaks in the wild outnumbers the unicorn population. But she wrote a post the other day asking if people were having second thoughts about the Streak, and it got me to thinking about what I had already decided a few months ago. After reading many of the comments, it seems like many people have grown tired of the wait, and I can hardly blame them.
There have been a ton of alternatives that have come out since we first saw the Streak last year, and frankly, many of them are better and at least have newer versions of Android or more hopeful upgrade plans. Is Android 1.6 really the best you can do when given nearly 40 weeks to work with, Dell? At this rate, Froyo should be a realistic goal by 2012, but hopefully before the world ends, because that would be an absolute bummer to miss out.
In the meantime, I'm hoping that many of the potential buyers do decide to move on to other devices. I sure have, in the form of my Nexus One, my HTC EVO 4G, two iPads, and my upcoming white iPhone 4. Oh, by the way, most of these products were announced after the Streak first appeared, yet I have owned all of them for months, with the exception of the iPhone 4. By showing Dell our displeasure and unhappiness with the long delays, especially here in the US, maybe it learns a lesson. Of course, maybe it couldn't care less what the loyal gadget buying community wants to spend their hard-earned cash on. Hmm, probably not.
And so I'm not just picking on Dell, let's revisit the Viliv N5. Remember, this is a device I was actually able to demo at CES this past January, and it looked like a real winner. The price was estimated to be around $500 and the build quality was top-notch (as Jenn noted in her recent review.) In the ensuing months, the price jumped up either $150 or $300, depending on the model, and the Atom Z520 processor and 1GB RAM suddenly look weak when compared to competing models like the new Sony Vaio P and Fujitsu UH900, which both have faster processors and 2GB RAM.
Not helping matters, I happened to pickup a gently-used Kohjinsha PA for half the price of an N5. Same specs, only with 512MB RAM, but it also adds a swivel-screen and the video-out feature which is missing from the Viliv. Keep in mind, the PA was announced in October of last year, barely two months before the N5 was, yet it was already in the hands of buyers by November, and into my hands a few months ago. Thanks for saving me hundreds of dollars, Viliv!
If you're still with me and reading this mini-rant, hopefully you will also think about your mobile device needs and decide if the Streak and the N5 are in your future, or if it might be better to sit this round out. There are plenty of companies that have no problem announcing and actually selling their wares on schedule, and from now on these are the ones that will get my business. Apple already does, and they have for many years now, selling millions upon millions of iPads and iPhones in just the time that Dell and Viliv have bungled the launches of their two products that should have been game changers.
Better luck getting to my wallet next time, guys!