Dell Streak Review - Multimedia, Camera and Keyboard Review


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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