Dell's new Streak 7 tablet throws down the gauntlet square in front of Samsung and its Galaxy Tab. The Streak 7 runs on T-Mobile's 4G network, and that's what gives the 7-inch tablet an advantage over the Galaxy Tab.
I took a press sample of the Streak 7 tablet for a test run, starting with some speed tests. On a 4G connection, it was able to download at 4 to 5 Mbps and upload at about 1.7 Mbps. The Galaxy Tab, on the other hand, generally downloaded at about 2 Mbps and uploaded between .5 and .8 Mbps over a 3G connection.
YouTube videos downloaded with little delay on the Streak, and video replay was quite smooth. But 4G coverage is spotty at best, and in our informal tests with phones, speeds varied significantly even within 4G zones.
The two tablets are similar in look and feel, although the Streak is a tad heavier at .97 pounds, compared with the .85-pound Galaxy. One interesting difference is the Streak 7's orientation to landscape use: Dell placed the power and volume buttons on the top (or bottom) edge, when you're holding the Streak in landscape position. The Home, Back, and Menu controls are along the top of the right side, easy to reach with your thumb. The forward-facing camera is also at the top center.
The Streak uses a capacitive touchscreen, which was smooth and responsive. But the display quality was disappointing. Resolution on the Streak is 800 by 480, while the Galaxy Tab's is 1,024 by 600. The Streak 7's display couldn't be turned up to be as bright as the Galaxy Tab's, and it didn't look as sharp. The Galaxy Tab appeared to have smoother text and less pixelation.
In addition, the Streak 7's viewing angle is better in landscape mode than portrait. In portrait mode, the brightness drops off more when you view the display from left of center than from right of center. That dropoff could lead to eyestrain when viewed from certain angles.
Other features of the Streak 7 include a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera and a 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera for video-conferencing. The Streak comes with 16GB of storage and up to 32GB of additional space with an optional, removable memory card. It has a dual-core processor and runs the Android 2.2 operating system.
The Streak 7 goes on sale tomorrow, February 2, for $250 with a two-year contract and data plan, or $200 with the $50 mail-in rebate offer. Data plans include one for 5GB that costs $40 a month ($50 for new T-Mobile customers) or 200MB for $25 a month ($30 for new customers). The Streak 7 costs $450 without a contract, and you can pair it with T-Mobile's pre-paid mobile broadband plans. You can also connect via any Wi-Fi router or T-Mobile's Hot Spots.
Find more buying information, reliability, and Ratings on tablet computers (available to subscribers) at Consumer Reports Online.