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Dell Streak - Multimedia, Camera and Keyboard

Andy Vandervell

By Andy Vandervell

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

8

We've already covered the Streak's suitability as a sat-nav device, but its large screen and ability to play 720p video ought to make it an excellent portable media player as well. It's not without competition in this arena, however. If you're interested in an Android-based PMP, the Archos 5 Internet Tablet offers stiff competition and is very competitively priced these days. It might be a more limited device, of course, but it’s a specialist.

And, were one to compare the two directly, the Archos would come out on top quite comfortably. That the Streak has the potential to be an excellent media player is without doubt, but out of the box it falls a little short. As a music player it's adequate, and the music player's interface makes good use of the screen's size and resolution. However, it lacks support for some popular codecs (e.g. FLAC and OGG), and its audio quality is merely average, lacking the pop and fizz of a dedicated player or even some better phones.

It's really the video codec support that disappoints, though. A lack of MKV wrapper support is forgiveable, but out of the box it doesn't even support AVI files or DivX encoded videos. You're consequently limited to WMV, 3GP and MP4 containers, and h.263, h.264 and MPEG-4 codecs, which leaves you to either re-encode files you want to use or explore alternative players. All this said, give it a file it likes and Streak performs just fine. We had no problems playing a 720p WMV video, and though darker parts of videos can lack a little detail, on the whole image quality is very good.

That’s not a quality that can be attributed to the camera. On paper it sounds good: five megapixels, auto-focusing, dual-LED flash – what’s not to like? Aside from the usual limitations of phone cameras, such as blown-out highlights and chromatic aberration issues, the Streak has a nasty penchant for over-sharpening and over saturating. In the right conditions it does a decent job, and there are plenty of options to play with, but the end results are only passable. Another irritation is how close the lens is to the edge of the phone, often causing it to be obscured when in use.

There's a similar issue at play with the on-screen keyboard, too. For reasons not entirely obvious right now, Dell has decided to add a numeric key pad to it. This means you have to reach over it with your thumb to use the keyboard, which is distinctly uncomfortable. Despite this, it's a good keyboard and benefits greatly from the responsiveness and accuracy of the keyboard. And, should you choose to do so, installing a different on-screen keyboard will eliminate the numeric key pad.

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john g

July 16, 2010, 10:15 pm

I've followed Trusted Reviews for several years and really do trust your reviews but...





Please don't get starry-eyed about how thin and light the latest mobile phones are. I am always prepared to carry a large block of chocolate in my pocket, so a thicker, heavier phone wouldn't be a significant issue, whereas having a phone that can't make it through a full day's heavy use is, literally, a show-stopper. Please stop trumpeting manufacturer's meaningless size and weight boasts and start campaigning for appropriate capacity batteries. After all, it's only a few years ago that reviewers got quite giddy if a new phone was smaller than the last one, whereas now we all see the benefits of larger screens.





Also, please remember that the purpose of your reviews is to give us information that moves us beyond first impressions - we can all go into Phones4U and marvel at the latest shiny, shiny gizmo for ourselves. The reason I'm saying this is that, from your recent reviews, I've got the impression that AMOLED screens are a must-have. However, in this review, you say that they are less visible in sunlight. So, less visible and unrealistic colours... sounds like a must-avoid. Ok, so they might use a bit less power, but I'm sure you've not been able to quantify this and so, yet again, it's beginning to look like a triumph of geek journalism over real-world experience.





Sorry if I'm being a bit harsh - I think my points are valid, but I blame my bad mood on having to schlep across London just to hand-deliver a letter. I wonder whether the organisation in question has mad dreams where someone has invented a method of written communication that doesn't rely on long-hand and post boys!

Ed

July 17, 2010, 2:53 am

@john_g: You seem to be quite muddled. Just because you want a device to be bigger so it can take a bigger battery, it doesn't mean everyone does. That has no bearing on the accuracy of our views - it's just a difference of opinion.





As for AMOLED screens, we've almost always noted that they have their downsides. The point Andy's making in this review is that while AMOLED displays are much talked about at the moment, and do have some advantages, this screen is still very good so the technology used shouldn't be of concern.

Stuea4

July 17, 2010, 6:30 am

Not read this review yet, but got to say I agree with John. Really can't stand this trend at the moment where the battery is an afterthought and the least important component. The E90 had great battery life, the Xperia X1 was alright (improved vastly with custom ROMs) and since then every single smart phone I've had has been terrible in this area. A day of usage should be MINIMUM. Not *maybe* a day if you don't surf the web or listen to music much.





I'm off to London for the weekend tomorrow and I know my iPhone will keep me entertained up until lunch time. After lunch it'll be a burden and a hindrance. I'll have to plan my day around getting it recharged. Because of it's crappy battery I have to carry a charger, my Nokia 6303 and a list of charging station locations. Would a better battery really take up more space than all of that?





I would honestly drop the phone for a different one in an instant if I thought it'd make much difference. I hear the iPhone 4 is a step in the right direction, but it'd cost me ~£300 to upgrade it while it still isn't up to the standard of the phones of a few years ago. It's not just down to higher consumption, battery capacities have gotten smaller as well...

Ed

July 17, 2010, 12:14 pm

As an aside, the iPhone 4 is a big improvement over previous models and generally lasts two days without a problem so hopefully that improvement is a sign of things to come.

Vinny

July 17, 2010, 3:31 pm

Im in agreement with John too for the same reasons. I frequently call in to the O2 shop to admire the UI, curves and quality of their small choice of phones. Greater emphasis on performance when multi-tasking, availability of apps, most useful app(s), accessories and call quality should feature more in any review of a mobile phone/phone tablet.

Enarca

July 18, 2010, 1:17 am

Is the fact that Dell Streak is under 'Apple' as a category a known mistake?

Ed

July 18, 2010, 2:53 am

@Enerca: Not sure what happened there but it's been fixed. Cheers.

Castalan

July 18, 2010, 10:53 am

@Stu





Yes I had the same problem with my 3GS - and my wife says now she has upgraded to IOS4 it has just got worse.





I know I do bang on about the Nexus - but when I bought it I bought an additional battery to go with it - so on those days I know i'm out and about I take the spare with me.





It's a radical thought - a removable battery ;) Maybe one day all phones could have this feature.





Ohhh hang on ...





The streak does look nice - unfortunately android 1.6 is a deal breaker for me and I'll be looking for something ( dare I say it ) iPad sized ..





but I'm sure for some with a regular phone that lasts a week for making phone calls something like this instead of a smart phone, yet portable and a much more pleasantly sized screen for viewing could be perfect

rav

July 18, 2010, 3:26 pm

You did seem to emphasise the lack of divx support. I can't remember this ever being noted as a limitation in any of the iPhone reviews despite that not even playing WMV and having codec support that isn't expandable (without jailbreaking). Rockplayer is available on the market (free and paid) and handles Divx great.

swift11

July 19, 2010, 9:12 am

Android is a mess. I will wait for the Nokia MeeGo and its 6-month update cycle.

LetsGo

July 19, 2010, 12:49 pm

@swift11 Android is a mess. I will wait for the Nokia MeeGo and its 6-month update cycle.





Please elaborate.





This looks like a solid device, it would be better if it run the latest and greatest Android OS.





As for battery life what do you expect if you treat your smartphone as a mini laptop you should either carry a charger or spare battery. Few laptops last a whole day without charging.

Keithe6e

July 19, 2010, 2:14 pm

@Stu: iPhone will keep me entertained up until lunch time.





You ever thought about getting a battery case, or battery pack?

swift11

July 19, 2010, 2:52 pm

@LetsGo: If I buy a high-end device, I want to be sure that my OS updates will follow soon after the Google updates. But with Android, you simply never know, except for the Nexus of course.





So my choice is the Nokia MeeGo ;-)

Kaurisol

July 19, 2010, 4:31 pm

@LetsGo - I would like to see the 6-month update cycle working before relying on it. Having said that, the updates have been coming through Maemo.





It would be even better if Meego and Android were brought close enough that you could develop s/w for one that could be run on the other. After all, they're both based on the same version of Linux (as I understand).

swift11

July 19, 2010, 5:49 pm

MeeGo = 100% Linux


Android = Linux + Java (Dalvik)


Intel's Moorestown is compatible with both, so we'll soon see some benchmarks. There is no doubt in my mind: MeeGo is much faster than Android ...

LetsGo

July 19, 2010, 11:00 pm

@Kaurisol Yeah Debian strains I think.





@Swift11 I think manufacture's should get their products working solid much more than running the latest and greatest OS. I did not let Vista touch any of my PC's after fixing a mates newly bought PC for example (well I did run it on a virtual machine).





@swift11


MeeGo = 100% Linux


Android = Linux + Java (Dalvik)





Being faster will not count for much if Developers don't have the right tools for the job. Java has a lot of research dollars going into it NASA uses it, IBM uses it in small embeded devices ... Also you can always use NDK which uses C this is how the quake clones are converted for various Android handsets.

swift11

July 20, 2010, 5:54 am

MeeGo will have one of the best tools: Qt Mobile, compatible with Symbian, Windows and later maybe Android.

dellstreakhacksd

August 18, 2010, 10:24 am

I received my dell streak yesterday and i'm loving it. i'm now learning how to hacks it, unlock http://dellstreakhacks.com or jailbreak it. hope i can do all of the above. I'm also learning how to upgrade to Android 2.1. any help?

mkpaul

August 25, 2011, 4:32 pm

Skype on Dell Streak with 2.2 Froyo only transmits voice, not video. I understand that Android 2.3 will allow Skype video to be transmitted.

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