Dell Intros Streak Tablet to Compete with Apple iPad
Dell has joined Apple and thrown its hat into the tablet arena with the
introduction of the Streak-a small tablet running Google's Android mobile
operating system and supporting Adobe's Flash technology.
Also known as the Mini 5, the Streak will be available in early June in the United Kingdom through the carrier O2 and at The Carphone Warehouse, followed later in the month at Dell's UK site. Pricing has yet to be announced.
Dell, the world's third-largest PC vendor, will bring the Streak to the United States later in the summer.
Like the Apple iPad, Dell's Streak measures one-half inch thick. With its 5-inch-wide, capacitive multitouch WVGA display, however, the Streak at a glance may appear more giant smartphone than teeny tablet-though according to the BBC, Dell has plans to offer 7- and 10-inch versions of the Streak in the future.
Also differentiating itself from the iPad, the Streak includes WiFi, Bluetooth and 3G connectivity, with support for UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System), GPRS and EDGE (Enhanced Data for Global Evolution) networks and speeds of up to HSDPA (High-Speed Downlink Packet Access) 7.2M bps. There's also a 5-megapixel auto-focus camera with dual-LED flash and Qualcomm's 1GHz Snapdragon processor.
Another key differentiator is Dell's support of Adobe Flash, a technology that Apple CEO Steve Jobs has called buggy and a power hog, and has refused to support in the iPad and iPhone. Adobe officials have objected to those criticisms of Flash.
Additionally, the Streak was "designed with the future in mind," Dell said in a statement, and so will support over-the-air updates, including platform upgrades to Flash 10.1 on Android 2.2 later in 2010, video chat applications and other software.
"The Dell Streak hits the sweet spot between traditional smartphones and larger-screen tablets," Ron Garriques, president of Dell's Communication Solutions Group, said in a statement. "Its unique size provides people new ways to enjoy, connect and navigate their lives."
Analyst Roger Kay of Endpoint Technologies Associates said he finds the Streak's size makes it more phonelike, which means it's not a direct competitor to the Apple iPad.
"It has some of the same touch metaphors as the iPad, but can be used for more specific functions, like [navigation]. It has a great nav package, including a car dock, Google Maps and other features," Kay told eWEEK. "This is the first small tablet into the market by a major vendor. HP has shown one but not brought it out; I suspect the Palm acquisition has something to do with that."
The Streak is less an iPad competitor, and more a different form factor, he said. "I predict that it does rather better than Dell's previous forays into the communications space."
Analyst Avi Greengart, with Current Analysis, also said he finds the Streak's size to be usual. "[Five inches] is a bit odd, as it's awfully big for a phone but not big enough to offer a dramatically different user experience," Greengart told eWEEK.
As with all Android devices, the Streak can multitask, allowing users to e-mail, text, send instant messages, accept voice calls, listen to music and receive social-networking status updates in real time, with integrated applications for Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. There's easy access to the Android Market and Google Maps, with free turn-by-turn navigation as well as street and satellite views.
The Streak comes with 2GB of internal dedicated storage and a MicroSD slot for 32GB more. And adding some green credibility, Dell will also be packaging the Streak with 100 percent sustainable cushions made from compostable bamboo.
According to Dell spokesperson Tavis Butler, the Streak is the first device to be created by Dell's new business division, which is focused on small-screen devices.
"This is the first in a family of devices," Butler told the BBC.
During Dell's fiscal 2011 first-quarter announcement May 20, CEO Michael Dell said he found the tablet space interesting. "Whenever a new device comes along, it's always kind of fun to get one and play around and kind of see what it's all about," Dell told analysts and media on the earnings call.
He said tablets create a whole new pattern for usage and demand, as well as purchasing.
"They don't necessarily replace an existing device, per se. Could you on occasion use this device instead of another? Yes. But generally speaking, the tablet form factor looks to me like a whole other device and a whole other purchase pattern," Dell said.
Research company IDC expects tablet sales to hit 7.6 million units by the end of 2010 and grow to 46 million units in 2014.