Monday, 7 June 2010

The Dell Streak

After a week and a smidge off work, I've returned to find the biggest and smallest Android devices waiting for me. First up the dell streak is demanding my attention. My first introduction to this is from one of Apple's latest (iPad) customers who has been using it over the weekend. He makes his thoughts very clear indeed. He tells me,
"Multitouch doesn't work in all the applications, The Apps from the Android store don't work it doesn't auto rotate" and his conclusion is
"it's rubbish".
I decide to continue unabated and insert my own sim. Upon boot up I'm given a very brief overview of the devices key features. Three large home screen (for which normal widget's look far too small) are available to start, with a panorama of London as the background; spanning all three. It looks like Android, It feels like android, but somehow, it feels like it's missing the sparkle of the Sony and HTC models. It seems Dell have decided less is more, and it all feels a little sparse. I check out the Android store to see if the Apple Fanboy's claims are justified. I install several apps, disappointingly, all of which work perfectly well. Facebook looks good, although the text is small and the screen space not utilised as best as it could be. The Web browser works well, pinch'n'zoom working fine too. I install Opera to see if it offers an improvement over the standard browser, it doesn't it's awful. The standard web browser does far better. Curiously, I go to see what flash looks like, any parent of 5-9 year old kids will tell you Moshi Monsters and Cbeebies is where its at. So I point the browser to www.moshimonsters.com and it does load. But no flash. I follow the links to the Adobe website where I'm told my device is not supported. I steal a HTC Desire and follow the same steps. On this, it is supoprted. But flash frame rates are so slow (1-2/sec), its unusable. I doubt any self respecting 5-9 year olds would put up with such shoddy performance. In essence, Apple are right, Flash on a mobile device is still no part of "the best web experience". Sky news looks good, but the video is slightly blocky. Google Sky Maps, is tremendous. The huge screen looks fab filled with stars, and its a great way to test that there is also an electronic magnet on board as well. Dragging apps down to the bottom of the screen puts them on the home screen, where they can easily be re-arranged. I've been playing Angry birds and Harbour master on the iPhone and iPad, both of which look great, sadly, neither are available from the App store, so it's tough to test for gaming. I install labyrinth, which provides 1 minute visually appealing entertainment. The camera is a 5mp auto focus affair, which has good picture quality, the photo browser is ok. Video plays back really well and looks crisp and clean on this beg screen. But alas. I'm uninspired. And I don't know why. The machine does everything and it does them all competently. Its a great vehicle for the Android OS and Dell have implemented it very well indeed. But it all seems a tad clunky, and (like the iPad) there's still no (in-built) option for usb devices, or an external SD card reader. This is too big to be considered over a HTC smartphone, so should be aiming to capture some of the tablet market. But without the ability to 'folder manage' and 'image capture' from other devices, 'print', or 'something else', it remains a clumsy mid sector oddity. Too big for a phone, not enough advantages to replace a tablet or laptop. Shame, I really wanted to like it.
If developers of this type of machine want some hints, Make something that we can take on holiday and blog from (somewhere we wouldn't take a laptop). That we can back up our pics from a number of different memory cards, view the pics and blog from. I know the iPad can do this. But not without clumsy adaptors that are begging to be lost/replaced.

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