Closer look at Dock Mode on Dell Streak and Streak 7
One of the noteworthy features of the new Dell Streak home dock, other than its compatibility with both the 5- and 7-inch tablets, is Dock Mode. It's actually nothing more than the stock Clock app, so if you've already checked that out on your Streak, then there's nothing to see here. Otherwise, please read on.
Putting either device into the dock automatically launches the Clock app over your current wallpaper (live or static), displaying basic information—time, data, weather, charging status—and providing easy access to alarms, photos, music, news, and your home screens. Tapping the Streak's home button when the tablet is docked will bring you back here; tapping the app's home button takes you to your home screen.
The Streak 7 doesn't charge via USB so if you connect the dock to your computer, it'll go into Dock Mode but the device won't charge. On the other hand, the Streak 5 will charge via USB but the only way to see the app is to launch it manually.
Dock Mode is identical in design and features on both Streaks, with the only difference being that the layout is more spacious on the Streak 7. It was designed with a bedside table/nightstand or desk in mind, so at-a-glance info and quick access are prioritized over robust features.
In the top right corner of the interface is a one-tap dimmer button, which lowers the brightness to its lowest setting so that you keep the Streak's screen on all night without being blinded.
The charging status and date/time aren't linked to anything, which I found a little disappointing. Being able to view battery information may not be useful to everyone, but I think tapping the date/time to bring up your calendar would've made sense. This omission looks like an oversight to me because you can tap on the weather info and actually go somewhere.
That "somewhere" is actually just the regular News & Weather app, which includes a 6-day forecast with additional weather information provided by The Weather Channel as well as various news feeds (top stories, world, U.S., business, sci/tech, entertainment, sports, health, and custom topics).
Clicking on a story title launches the web browser and takes you to the respective site to read the full story. Images and articles can be prefetched for faster access.
The rest of the soft buttons at the bottom of the interface are self-explanatory and take you to the respective app: the alarm button takes you to the alarm section of the Clock app and lets you set alarms, the photo button launches an automatic slideshow (with no customizable features) using the images stored on your Streak, the music button opens the stock music app, and the home button leads you to the home screen.
The Clock app functions as a fine desk/nightstand clock and it's nice that it launches automatically when the Streak is seated on the dock, but for people who don't know that "Dock Mode" is just a fancier way to refer to an app that's already on their device, it can be rather underwhelming.
To be fair, the Nexus One dock (among others) equates the Clock app to Dock Mode too, so this behavior isn't unique to the Streak. But if this the first dock you've ever bought for an Android phone, then Dell's description of "the new Dock Mode that turns your Streak or Streak 7 into a new device" is pretty misleading.