The Dell Streak, once known as the Mini 5 tablet, is now available from U.K. wireless carrier O2 with a stunning variety of pricing options - including, in several instances, free with a two-year service contract.
The plans vary from a free 16GB Streak with a two-year contract and a monthly fee of about $51, to $15 a month for 1GB of data-only service and $654 for a 32GB Streak.
The Streak features a 5-inch multitouch screen, GPS, WiFi, 3G and Bluetooth connectivity, a 1GHz Snapdragon processor, and, once they're available, it will be able to upgrade to both Android 2.2 and Adobe Flash 10.1.
The Streak's 5-inch display has caused many to wonder whether it's more of a larger smartphone than a small tablet, though its size still hasn't stopped comparisons to Apple's so-far enormously successful iPad. In a matter of months, Apple has grown worldwide consumer interest in a form factor that Microsoft and others long-ago abandoned, after meeting with years of low yields.
Charles King, principal analyst with Pund-IT, alternately suggests that, despite the tablet label, the Streak defies direct comparisons to the iPad, which was likely Dell's intention.
"Some might dispute this, but consider how the Streak is actually a study in iPad contrasts: a significantly smaller display, integrated camera, immediate support for voice calling and eventually for video chat, easily upgradable memory and accessible battery and, last but not least, support for Adobe Flash," King wrote in a June 2 report. "In other words, though the Streak presents a notably different form factor than the iPad, it offers a far broader and fuller set of features, including some that help define or enhance the quality of many users' online experience."
King pointed out that tablets, considered "companion devices," have so far generally mimicked the display sizes of laptops - the Asus Eee Pad, for example, features a 12-inch display. This, however, can introduce the problem of a tablet cutting into a vendor's laptop sales, as King says the iPad has reportedly done to some degree to the Apple MacBook.
With the Streak, however, Dell won't face any threats to its Inspiron or Latitude notebooks, says King.
"Instead, the Streak's features place it at an effective midway point where its compact size should make it adequate for simple tasks currently relegated to traditional laptops, and its capabilities will provide an experience for consuming online content superior to smart phones and media players," King wrote. "While the competition in tablets computing will be fierce, we believe the Streak could be a boon companion for many Dell customers and should provide the company a clear entry position in an increasingly dynamic and profitable market segment."
As for the Streak launching abroad, as Dell's smartphones have, analyst Roger Kay, with Endpoint Technologies, told eWEEK that "negotiations are going on in parallel all over the place. Some come to fruition earlier than others."
King, however, sees the UK as a more manageable launch market in which Dell, without Apple's experience for an iPad-size launch, can "catch any errors or potential problems before they become serious."
The Dell Streak is scheduled to debut in the United States later this summer.