February 01, 2011, 11:33 AM —
The Dell Streak 7 is a study in contrasts. This Nvidia Tegra 2-based Android tablet counts smart and subtly sharp design among its strengths--unfortunately, its unimpressive display and inelegant software implementation constrain its appeal. T-Mobile's aggressive pricing--at $200 after a $50 mail-in rebate with a two-year contract (as of February 1, 2011), it's $100 less than the Samsung Galaxy Tab on the same carrier--may make the Streak 7 worth consideration, but the device's numerous weaknesses might not outweigh the value price.
The Streak 7 is the follow-up to Dell's 5-inch Streak, introduced last summer. That model suffered from a size that was too compact for a tablet but too large for the phone it really was. Still, that first iteration made me itch for a variant with a larger screen and more polish. The Streak 7 delivers on the first of those two items, at least.
Although the design of the original Streak didn't impress me, design is the Streak 7's greatest asset. It's not that the new Streak is especially slim or stylish; rather, its build quality, button placement, and subtle contours are appealing.
The unit measures 7.9 by 4.7 inches, 0.4 inch longer than the Galaxy Tab; both devices are half an inch thick, although the Streak gives the impression of being a sliver thinner. It also seems to be lighter, even though it actually weighs 15.5 ounces versus the Tab's 13.4 ounces. In the hand, the subtle curves of the Streak feel comfortable to hold; they're preferable to the more squared-off design of the Tab. The Streak also feels more conducive to hold in one hand.
On the whole, its design feels streamlined yet functional. Only the headphone jack, situated at the top right (vertical) or upper left (landscape), seems awkwardly situated.
Even the port cover is well designed: It's sturdy yet not bulky, and it smoothly fits with the edge (something that often can't be said of port covers). It provides easy access to the full-size SD Card slot and the SIM-card slot. To open the port cover in the first place, you'll need to use your fingernail, but it notably snaps open and closed easily.