LAS VEGAS-Dell and T-Mobile joined the tablet fray at the 2011 International Consumer Electronics Show with Streak 7 tablet, specifically designed for T-Mobile's 4G network.
The Streak 7, unveiled Jan. 6, features a 7-inch WVGA multi-touch screen fronted with ultra-tough Gorilla Glass, and runs Android 2.2 on a dual-core 1GHz Nvidia Tegra 2 processor. It includes full support for Adobe Flash and front- and rear-facing cameras, and a series of pre-loaded applications such as T-Mobile TV and online-newsstand Zinio.
That front-facing 1.3-megapixel camera comes preloaded with the Qik video-chat application for video conferencing over T-Mobile's network or WiFi. The rear 5-megapixel camera allows both still-image and video recording.
The Streak 7 joins Dell's 5-inch Streak tablet, which arrived in U.S. stores in August 2010. Early reviews picked at the Streak's Android 1.6 operating system, which seemed antiquated given the rapid pace of Android development; Dell waited a few months before pushing through the Streak's Android 2.2 ("Froyo") update, bringing the device onto the same level as other Android tablets.
For those who felt the original Streak was either too large for a smartphone or too small for a tablet, the Streak 7 offers a screen comparable in size to marketplace rivals such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab and Research In Motion's upcoming 7-inch PlayBook.
That being said, many of the upcoming tablets previewed at CES will utilize Android 3.0 ("Honeycomb"), which is supposedly optimized for the tablet form-factor. Motorola is showing off the Xoom, a 10.1-inch tablet running Android 3.0 on the Nvidia Tegra 2 dual-core processor. Toshiba also has an Android 3.0 tablet in the works for release later in 2011.
In the enterprise space, Dell and T-Mobile will find themselves locked in competition with RIM's PlayBook, also on display at CES. And all these tablet manufacturers face a sizable opponent in the form of Apple's iPad, the next version of which could be released within the next few months.
In September 2010, CEO Michael Dell had offered a sneak peek at a 7-inch tablet during Oracle OpenWorld, but remained tight-lipped about specs or a possible release date. "Michael made the point that devices are changing and evolving rapidly to keep up with the way users want to get their data-anytime, anywhere," read a Sept. 22 posting on Dell's corporate blog, Direct2Dell.
With Dell and T-Mobile promising the Streak 7 will hit store shelves "in the coming weeks," that time for Dell's tablet evolution is evidently at hand. The actual sticker price of that future, however, remains undisclosed.