Hands-on impressions of the Dell Streak 7

Photo 4 It's been almost two weeks since Dell officially announced Streak 7 at its press conference at CES 2011, so I think it's finally time to share my thoughts and first impressions of T-Mobile's "first 4G tablet."

I spent a fair amount of time handling the Streak 7 and visited it every day I was at the show, either in the Dell Suites at The Palms or at the NVIDIA booth at the Convention Center. I wanted to do much more with it than I was able to do, but I'll be able to check it out to my heart's content when I buy it the day it's released (whenever that is).

The fact that I'll be heading out to a T-Mobile store on launch day to pick one of these up for myself should make it pretty clear that I liked what I saw of the Streak 7 at CES, so let's take a look at some of the pics I got and talk a little more about the device below.

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In case you missed it earlier, here are some size comparisons to give you a better idea of how big the Streak 7 is:

The device isn't what I would personally describe as pocketable, but it is extremely portable and quite thin (Streak 7 and iPhone 4 shown below). I'm sure that some people will be able to slip it into their inner suit pockets or coat/jacket pockets, though, so I suppose pocketability is relative.

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The Streak 7 is definitely going to be a two-handed device for me. My hands aren't small but they weren't big enough for me to comfortably hold and use the tablet in one hand the way that some of the speakers at the press conference were doing. I don't see this as a bad thing since for me, the Streak 7 would be more of a couch companion than something I'd carry with me every time I left the house (that's what my phones are for).

This isn't to say that I would never use the device outside of the house, as its screen would make it great in all kinds of social situations, but I would primarily use it at home. It says right there in the photo above that it "fits right into the family," which to me means something to keep on the kitchen counter, coffee table, end table, or nightstand. Something that I can easily pass off to my husband or baby girl to use too.

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I don't really like the circles around the capacitive touch button icons, but other than that I think the Streak 7 is pretty sleek and stylish. It felt very solid and well built (I don't know if the units on display were production samples), with no creaking or flexing under some pressure.

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The Galaxy Tab may be a little stronger in the style department, but the Streak holds it own and has some nice elements like a textured back design (identical to the one on the Dell Venue Pro, I believe) that provides some grip, gives it character, and also resists fingerprints pretty well.

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A removable battery and microUSB port would've been able to quiet a lot of naysayers, but I don't mind the PDMI connector since it's the same one on the current Streak and the 2780mAh battery should provide a good amount of time between charges. There's also an LED light, stereo speakers, full size SD card (!), and easily accessible SIM card slot to take away some of the sting.

And let's not forget about the 1GHz dual-core NVIDIA Tegra T20 processor, a significant upgrade to the Streak 5's 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon CPU, that's powering the whole thing. There wasn't any noticeable difference when doing things like swiping between screens or launching apps, but you can bet that the improvement is rather dramatic for things like 3D games. I imagine that even things like web browsing will enjoy a boost in speed and scrolling smoothness; the WiFi networks are so congested at CES that I couldn't really get a good feel of real-world performance in this area.

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Some people have expressed disappointment over the Streak 7's WVGA screen resolution and while it's true that WSVGA (or higher) would have been a more competitive choice, I don't think it's necessarily a dealbreaker either. The Galaxy Tab has a WSVGA screen and most apps won't even display in full screen mode unless you employ a little hack-of-sorts using Spare Parts. Android 2.2 (Froyo) doesn't need 1024 x 600, and neither does Gingerbread (2.3). Honeycomb, on the other hand, may be a different story.

Dell said at its press conference that the Streak 7 would be upgraded to Honeycomb (we're dealing with T-Mobile this time around, so let's not be prematurely discouraged) soon after the new version of Android was released, but there are widely circulated rumors than the OS has a minimum screen resolution requirement of 1280 x 720. These rumors, however, were never confirmed by Google so I don't think there's any truth to them.

There's no specific timeframe for the Streak 7's release other than that it will be out "in a few weeks" (note that this was said two weeks ago), but I take it as a good sign that T-Mobile is promoting it on its website (a welcome change from the cold shoulder that AT&T is still giving to the Streak 5) and I for one am looking forward to its availability.

What about you?

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Jenn K. Lee

Jenn K. Lee is the founder of Pocketables. She loves gadgets the way most women love shoes and purses. The pieces in her tech wardrobe that go with everything are currently the Samsung Galaxy Note II, Sony Tablet P, and Nexus 7, but there are still a couple of vintage UMPCs/MIDs in the back of her closet.

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