While a slew of iPad rivals will try to beat Apple at its own game, blindly following its form factor into a fight for the other podium positions, Dell is taking a slightly different approach with its hotly-anticipated Streak tablet.
The sleek device, with its 5-inch multi-touch screen, boasts the processing power, functionality and the Android operating system necessary to take a run at 2010’s top tablets, but also offers a good bit more than that.
Indeed, its real ace in the hole is where the lines are blurred into smartphone territory. It’s the first gadget Dell has ever released in the UK to have voice calling and, along with the familiar phone-esque Android interface, text messaging, five-megapixel camera and removable battery, it appears to have a shot at muscling in on some of the main mobile players.
So. Smartphone or tablet? Neither or both?
Dell seems keen to stick to its computing roots and is vociferously pronouncing this a tablet, with the Apple iPad very much in its sights.
Perhaps the company is wary of entering an arena so densely populated with the likes of the HTC Desire, Google Nexus One, Motorola Milestone and the Apple iPhone 3GS (with iPhone 4 looming), and is simply sticking to what it knows?
For now we’ll go along with that, however if there’s any device out there that can tick all of the boxes, negating the need to own both tablet and smartphone, it could well be the Dell Streak.
In terms of design, it does favour the typical tablet layout with a landscape-based home screen interface rather than the upright layout seen on most full-touch screen smartphones.
The vastly inferior Archos tablets that came before this, and those incoming from HP and Lenovo, have opted for this design, so in this respect we’re definitely looking at a tablet.
The capacitive multi-touch screen, as we mentioned, measures up at 5-inches, which would be too small to be called a tablet, strictly speaking, yet too big to quality as a smartphone. The Dell Streak will need to smash those conventions if its to be a success.
It’s a very slim device and, at just 9.98mm, it’s slimmer than our top ranking handset, the HTC Desire. It only weights 220g and, if you don’t mind the top poking out, it slides quite nicely into a jeans pocket too, measuring up at 152.2 x 79.1 x 9.98mm.
But how are we supposed to hold this thing? In terms of the grip, it feels very natural adopting a two-handed approach in landscape mode, letting the device rest between both palms.
Also it’s by no means too large to clutch like a regular smartphone, and when reading web pages and making calls, that’s what you’re going to want to do.
All in all, it’s a very, attractive device, up there with Dell’s luxury Adamo range of laptops in terms of design. But while those devices are aspirational underperformers, the Streak will cost you no more than your average modern-day smartphone and it’s got it where it counts.
O2 has exclusivity and is offering it for free from £25 per month for a data package and £35 per month for voice calling deals, which in all honesty sounds like an absolute steal.
In terms of external controls, the front features a touch-sensitive panel featuring Back, Menu and Home buttons, each of which greet you with a pleasant haptic vibration upon contact.
There are also three hard-buttons on top of the device (we’ll refer to the top as it would be if held in landscape): volume controls, a power button (which also controls the screen) and a camera shutter button.
To the left of the volume controls is a 3.5mm jack, which appears strangely positioned, but all things considered, it’s the only place for it.
A few more of the external features that will make iPad owners a little jealous are the 5-megapixel camera with dual-flash and the front-facing VGA webcam.
There’s also a removable battery, with a home for your SIM card, and up to 32GB of storage via microSD card.
The external speaker sits next to the slide-off back plate. Unhinging that plate switches the device off, for some reason. The very Apple-esque charging port, is at the bottom of the device, but it’s quite sharp and can be uncomfortable depending on how you choose to grip the Streak.
The screen is vibrant and colourful, with a 480 x 800 resolution that’s perfectly suited to playing widescreen video footage, but there’ll be much more on that later in the review. It also comes with reinforced, scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass, which is as tough as a 50 pence rump steak.
The Dell Streak also has plenty of gas in the tank, housing the Qualcomm Snapdragon 1GHz processor-du-jour, which was utilized to great effect on the Google Nexus One and HTC Desire. That speed is immediately evident and is backed up by 512MB of RAM.
Apple wants you to own an iPad for the home and an iPhone for the road. Here, Dell is offering a single platform solution that could not only bridge the gap, but own this brand new space. On the surface, the Dell Streak looks very promising, so let’s dig a little deeper.
The Streak runs on Android but it’s only version 1.6 rather than the new and improved ‰clair 2.1 operation system. Obviously, that’s a little bit of a disappointment.
This means there’s none of those attractive live wallpapers, and limited use of the voice-to-text functionality. Here, it works with the Google Search bar on the home screen and within the contacts app.
However, it is, in our experience, 100 per cent accurate and we’d love it to see it deployed across the messaging and email platforms.
Hopefully, Dell and Google can work together to bring us a nice tasty ‰clair in the near future.
Moving past that, this is certainly an impressive use of Google’s mobile operating system. Much like how anyone who has used an iPhone will quickly master an iPad, Android fans will find this an equally simple and rewarding experience.
It’s instantly usable, and has some surprisingly useful innovations, probably second only to HTC’s Sense UI in that respect.
The extra space offered by the 5-inch screen, which Dell tells us offers 90 per cent more screen capacity than the iPhone 3GS (although the iPhone 4 will increase the resolution) really allows you to infinitely customize those home screens (Dell calls them Rooms), with full-sized widgets and as many apps as you could possibly desire.
Starting with three Rooms, which can be increased to six, swiping between the screens is as easy as you’d expect on a responsive touch screen such as this. However if you half-ass it, it will reject the swipe and return to its original position, so give it some welly.
Thankfully, however, there is an easier way to get to the Room of your choice. The tabs at the top of the screen (again, in landscape mode) are a great addition, and the second one along brings up shortcuts to all of your home screens. Holding the Home button performs the same action.
It isn’t quite as sexy as HTC’s Leap, where pinching reveals all of your Home screens, but is equally effective. The dots within that tab also help to keep track of where you’re currently at.
The tab in the left hand corner brings up the Android menu, featuring all of your apps and widgets, which can be minimized to feature the most prominent applications in a single row. It works exceedingly well.
The third tab along is for notifications, while the fourth offers connectivity options, alarms and battery life. Basically, most of the functionality can be accessed from that top strip.
An on-screen bar which controls screen brightness, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, and syncing with one-touch is another fab little addition we found ourselves using a lot, especially in those circumstances where the screen needs a little more light. Switching the extra brightness off offers an instant battery saver.
Thanks to the 1GHz Snapdragon processor, moving between screens, opening applications, and indeed multi-tasking is extremely fast. There really is a quite surprising zip to proceedings that’s up there with anything on the market at the moment. Smartphone or tablet.
The three touch-sensitive buttons on the right-hand side are perfectly placed and underpin the whole interface. It’s so easy to move back within an app, access its menu, or indeed return home without altering your PSP-like grip on the device. The haptic feedback is always comforting too.
There might not be any live wallpapers, but the panoramic sets which run through the Rooms are almost equally neat.
So, whereas the Archos 5 tablet flattered to deceive when employing the Android OS in its most organic form, here Dell’s new skin has offered a little more and, in the main, has done an excellent job of adapting the open source OS.
The UI is sensible, with some fabulous touches the make this device a pleasure to use.
Contacts and Calling:
Setting up the phone is also very easy. Adding in your Gmail, Outlook and Facebook accounts will quickly populate your contacts book, with profile pictures, and it’s easy to eliminate those duplicate contacts using the Merge feature.
That could be less time consuming if the contact you’d like to merge stayed in the same place rather than instantly moving to the top of the book. It means you have to scroll back through the contacts, when more often than not, the contacts you’d like to merge are right next to each other.
Next to each name are the methods of contact, enabling you to call, send email, texts or visit their Facebook without entering the actual contact page. It’s a time saver that’s quite convenient.
Once inside the contact, there’s a wealth of information for you to edit, with Skype and address fields and many more.
Our only quibbles here lie with the Streak’s inability to consistently render Facebook pictures. A lot of the time you’ll be left with a wealth of blank faces as you whiz through your contacts with pictures taking a good while to reappear.
Also, if the contacts book is absolutely loaded, only being able to split the alphabet into three or four letter sections means you’ll still spend quite a lot of time scrolling to find your desired target.
As with most things on the Streak, there’s a way around that. Holding the Menu key brings up the keyboard, and you’re able to scan for contacts that way.
It’s also quite hard to be accurate with the scrolling as, although lightning fast, it doesn’t boast nearly the same level of control or the same fluid experience that’s available on the iPhone and the iPad.
It’s easy to select the set of contacts you would like to view however, so if you want to hide your 800 Facebook acquaintances when trying to find your mother, then that’s instantly doable.
Dell is insistent that the Streak is a tablet PC, yet it can make voice calls. So, strictly speaking, it’s a mobile telephone. The iPhone makes calls, hence it is a phone. The iPad does not, hence it is a tablet. Right?
Well, the lines are thoroughly blurred here, but that’s by no means a bad thing. As long as performance isn’t diminished, the more strings to the bow, the more attractive the proposition, we say.
The calling experience is as straightforward as on any other Android phone out there. Press the phone icon and the dialpad appears to the right of the screen.
On the left, is a list of your recently dialed contacts. Simple.
We’d have liked the ability to start typing the name of our desired contact into the alphabet on the dialpad and to have it recognised, but that’s a no-go and it’s certainly something that’s missed.
Wading through contacts nowadays seems like such an unnecessary extra step these days. Like warming up beans on the stove before microwaves.
The Streak gets around that, in a way, by offering Voice Dial calling functionality thanks to the Nuance plug-in. Like the Google voice-to-text search bar, you’ll be amazed at how accurate this is, as it effortlessly repeats your demands (in a sexier voice) before placing the call. It’s really cool.
The dialpad and call screen is an area where the big screen seems superfluous. It offers almost the same experience as using an app designed for iPhone on the iPad, but its an acceptable trade-off for having the larger screen.
What are they supposed to fill it with? It’s just a dialpad after all and there’s no need to go all Fisher Price, like the Nuviphone.
The calling experience itself, is great. Voices come through loud and crisply on the both the phone and loud speakers, and it’s as good as anything out there in that department.
But, the big question is, will you feel a wally walking round with what looks like a handheld games console pressed to your head? We didn’t. It actually feels surprisingly natural, and we didn’t get any strange looks. Well… no more than usual.
This device works as a phone, in fact there’s nothing separating it from being a classified as a smartphone circa 2010, with a very large screen.
Is having a 5-inch screen such a crime? The HTC HD2 boasted a 4.2-inch screen, but we didn’t call that a tablet, while the Google Nexus One has 3.7-inches. The days of less being more are over in the smartphone world, and if that means extra functionality at greater speed then bigger screens will certainly be tolerated.
As well as being able to make calls, the Dell Streak has text messaging functionality, adding weight to its smartphone credentials.
There’ll be a lot of debate as to which grip to use when sending texts and sending emails. Two-handed in landscape is probably quickest and offers the most natural feel. Two-handed in portrait is easier on the thumbs, but strains the index fingers as they run parallel along the 15cm length of the phone
One-handed portrait causes no strain, but it’s harder to be accurate. One-handed in landscape also works well as the full QWERTY is obviously larger, and has a dedicated number pad akin to a desktop PC’s keyboard, allowing us to be more accurate.
This is completely open to interpretation though, and everyone will have their preferred grip.
As a smartphone, having the larger keypad is a natural advantage, but as a tablet it almost doesn’t seem big enough, and mistakes are prominent.
One of the things we most loved about the iPad was how easy it was to rattle out error-less emails. The trade-off there, however is that that device needed to be laid flat to do so.
There are also regular-sized smartphones like the iPhone 3GS and the HTC Desire which allow more accurate typing than the Streak. The screen is very responsive, but nowhere near as forgiving as on those devices.
One thing that makes those phones more forgiving is the interface, rather than the hardware. Both have very good auto-correct functionality that wipes out most errors, with the handsets intelligently learning from your mistakes.
It’s something we’ve come to expect from touchscreen phones, almost as a nod from manufacturers to say, “Yes, typing on these things isn’t as easy, but here’s our solution.” The Dell Streak thankfully has that too, but leans on the Android in-built dictionary rather than developing its own.
This means it can be a little haphazard at getting the words right, whereas those from HTC and Apple traditionally are spookily intuitive.
It also extends to things like writing in emails – surprisingly we didn’t want to email [email protected] Although he is a surprisingly nice chap.
The Streak’s full-sized email widget sits comfortably in one of your Rooms, updating live and enabling you to scroll through the most recent 25 messages.
You can select between the accounts you wish to view, or add another widget for additional accounts. Go on, treat yourself. There’s plenty of space. We had Gmail and Hotmail sat next to each other in one Room. The Read All tab takes you to the full account, while Send New prompts a new message screen.
Occasionally you’ll think you have unread emails, but they’re just emails from your sent box, which usually have unviewed attachments. It’s a strange one, but you just need to mark the entire sent folder as read.
There’s also a distinct lack of threaded emails, and there aren’t many bespoke smartphone widgets fulfilling this request at the moment. Gmail users would be better off downloading the Gmail app for this.
There’s also a dedicated Exchange client, called Touchdown, which is available as a month-long trial with your Dell Streak. The full version costs £14.54, however. It’s very well specced, with all the features you’d get from your desktop client pushed onto your handset. Sorry, tablet.
All in all, it’s a fine gadget for email, and everything is done with tremendous speed. Whereas we’d be more inclined to pick up the laptop rather than the smartphone to send a longer email, having the Dell Streak next to us changed that somewhat.
It’s widely accepted that the reason for the tablet to exist is for internet use. The category’s convenience as a browsing device supersedes the awkward, shrunken experience of the smartphone, and is far more portable than the average laptop.
The Streak can potentially bridge that gap further, so how does it fare?
Although the Opera 5 app is worth a try, the WebKit Android browser is still the best available for handsets carrying the 1.6 operating system, with Mozilla’s new Firefox for Android release only available on Android 2.0 and above.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing. The Streak has a very good browser indeed. We really like using it in portrait mode when browsing blogs and reading news stories.
The screen is large enough to have an eBook reader feel to it and adopting a one-handed approach and using the thumb to scroll though the page came naturally.
As with everything else on the Dell Streak, anything you want to access is easily accessible and, more often than not, a single tap away.
Hitting the bookmark tab in the top right of the screen allows access to bookmarks, most visited pages and web history, while the Rooms tab offers access to the web windows you have open. It’s about as easy and straightforward as it comes.
You can add individual bookmarks to the Homescreen, but we’d like the chance to add the entire menu.
Pinching to zoom works very well on the touchscreen and, as you’d expect with the Snapdragon chip on board, rrendering pages is magnificently quick.
Live feeds like BBC and Sky News offer news headlines without accessing the browser, and they’re also a better fit on the 5-inch screen than they are on other Android phones.
Dell could’ve scored some serious points over the iPad by incorporating Flash, but in the Streak we have another web-savvy device, sadly lacking one of the internet’s most important ingredients.
Never mind Smartphone or tablet, how about digital camera?
The surprise package on the Dell Streak is the fantastic 5-megapixel camera with the dual flash.
Jam-packed with shooting settings that would make your average compact cam proud, it ranks among the best cameras we’ve seen on a smartphone device and certainly the best Android cam out there.
Pictures can be taken using the hard shutter button at the top of the phone or the touchscreen, but a single press on the shutter button produces a super-fast auto focus before taking the picture, and that method provides the better results.
The large screen offers all the smooth detail you could desire from such a device, unlike many handsets with a jumpy view of reality through the lens.
Even in automatic mode, colours are wonderfully detailed, and reproduction is very accurate, but once you get into the settings you can tailor your pictures extremely well.
There are six scene options (Automatic, Night, Portrait, Landscape, Sport and Snow) and each adds an individual flavour to the picture.
Moving beyond that, there are four White Balance presets (Auto is fine, but the Snow pre-set in scene mode also does a great job of sorting the whites outdoors) and you can even alter brightness and contrast.
There’s a host of resolution and quality options, while the Multishot functionality enables you to take up to ninr pictures at a time, which is great as the shutter is occasionally too slow to capture the event as you’d like.
Pictures also take a little while to complete the capture and return to shooting mode, but at this quality, we can live with that. You can turn the flash on and off, add a self timer and geotag pictures. We almost forgot to mention the decent 4x digital zoom for a second there.
Results are extremely detailed, and look great on the screen as well as on the laptop. Heck, we even transferred some onto our HDTV for a closer look and they stand up very well there too.
It can handle getting in really close to the subjects thanks to a really good auto-macro mode, with a lovely tight depth of field. It’s a fabulous stills camera, it really is.
Video is VGA quality and has all of the applicable options, including the ability to switch between MPEG-4 and H.263 capture. You can’t zoom mid-record in video mode though. Results are detailed and colours are reproduced well. Overall the footage is akin to the video quality you’d see from phones like the iPhone 3GS.
There are a host of share options for the video and stills. Video can go to YouTube and can be uploaded fairly rapidly using Wi-Fi. You can even do a little bit of citizen journalism by uploading to Sky News’ Your Reports section.
Picture share options include Facebook, email and MMS as well as Flickr and Picasa. Downloading the Twidroid app will enable you to upload photos and video to Twitter also.
Another ace in the hole is that front-loaded VGA webcam, which will enable video conferencing once a compatible application appears in the Android Market. This will give the Dell Streak a massive advantage over the iPad.
At present, the Streak’s webcam can be used for self-portraits and web-blogging. Sound recording quality is pretty grim though.
The musical interface on the Dell Streak is very nice indeed. Navigation is logical, information is clearly presented and the ‘now playing’ widget for the Homescreen is a handy way to carry on controlling music while working in other areas of the phone.
However, sound quality doesn’t really match. Through the speakers, it’s light and tinny despite throwing out a fair few decibels. Housing the speaker on the back of the device doesn’t help as it’s usually covered by the grip or completely muffled if the Streak is laid down flat.
Playing through the headphones isn’t that much better either, and sounds decidedly low-res even when funnelled through a wicked pair of B&W P5 beasties. An iPod touch, it’s not.
As we’ve mentioned, the interface is good enough, but for some reason the phone isn’t nearly as snappy when using the music player in any way shape or form. It’s sluggish, in fact, and we’re not sure why.
Aiming for the ambiguous return to library command is hit-and-miss and more often than not you just end up skipping back a track, which is one of the only things about this tablet that can be considered annoying.
You can create playlists quite easily and there is a Cover Flow-like interface. Skipping album or playlist tracks is possible from the Homescreen, so it’s not all bad news, but it just stands out as being a little inferior to the rest of the device.
Tracks can be downloaded directly to the device via Wi-Fi and 3G using the Amazon MP3 app, but it’s quite straight forward to drag and drop music into the corresponding folder on the microSD card. Pretty much every mainstream audio format imaginable is compatible with the device too, which is a bonus.
Video is less of a worry. At 5-inches, boasting a resolution of 480 x 800 it offers a better experience than most of the tablets out there. Video looks as clear and crisp if the footage is of sufficient quality.
Some of the movie trailers we downloaded were a little fuzzy, but that’s more of a reflection on the file rather than the screen or player. It even plays WMV files!
It was just nice to be able to watch the videos in their native format, rather than shoehorning them onto a smaller screen. Of course it’s not as large as a regular tablet, and fingerprints are a real issue on this device, but we were pretty happy with the video viewing experience.
The Android YouTube widget remains competent on this, but we’d love to be able to the access the iPlayer app available on 2.1.
The third part of this holy media trinity is photography, and viewing photo albums is also a pleasant experience, with pictures rendering quickly even when zooming in.
The slideshow setting is a handy feature, moving and scanning around pictures nicely as they transition into each other. The phone’s multi-tasking capabilities mean you can even set your slideshow to a lovely piece of classical music.
With a camera as good as this one, the pictures deserve a nice slideshow and the rolling album animation when you come out of a photo and return to the album screen is lovely.
Ultimately, the media capabilities on the Dell Streak aren’t necessarily a highlight. Something which is understandable on a smartphone, but less so on a tablet. It falls right in the middle here.
The iPad is tailor-made for watching movies and enjoying music and pictures and the Dell Streak falls well short in this department.
Battery, Maps, and Connectivity:
The Dell Streak boasts a 1530mAh removable battery, which compares favourably to the 1400mAh cell on the HTC Desire. It’s powerful for a smartphone, but the iPad‘s epic battery life comes thanks to the 25W beast that keeps going and going.
The battery life on the Streak is nothing to jump for joy about. You will get a day’s solid usage of it, but not a lot more, especially with heavy use of 3G and whacking the brightness up to experience the 5-inch screen in all it’s bright and vibrant glory.
Even with the screen off, it doesn’t save that much power. We went to bed with half a battery remaining and woke up to find it as dead as Ulrika Johnson’s career.
It does charge fairly rapidly though. We plugged it in to the mains at nine per cent and it was back to full strength in an hour. Impressive. Unlike the iPad, you can also plug it into just about any USB port to charge it.
Again, it’s impressive for a cellphone, but less so when comparing it to Apple’s all-conquering tablet. The battery is removable and replaceable though, so it has that advantage.
Google’s turn-by-turn voice navigation plus a 5-inch screen equals a stand-alone sat-nav device of considerable note, and is another reason to opt for this device over other tablets and smartphones.
Offering this service for free is a real game-changer from Google and there are few devices with the screen space to put it to use in the way Dell has here. It’s a brilliant application that utilises the Streak’s built-in compass and GPS to guide you to your destination.
It’s easy to add layers to the basic map view, like the satellite maps as well as traffic, parking and gas station information and it’s easy to switch to Google Street View by double-tapping on the screen.
There are various other views, such as street level and helicopter, and voice instructions are as clear as you’d expect from a stand-alone sat-nav device. This application dumps all over Co-pilot and it’s something that Google could easily charge a fair whack for on the Android Market.
It’s also easy to forget there’s an awesome deployment of regular old Google Maps on board, but Navigation really makes the headlines on the Dell Streak and offers a definite reason to buy this over the iPad and every other non-Android tablet on the market.
In terms of competing with the smartphone world, the 5-inch screen seems to make sense here. Try squinting to look at directions using Ovi maps on the Nokia N900. Try resting an iPad on your dashboard. Try making calls on a TomTom. In terms of convergence, the Dell Streak does a fantastic job with this satnav functionality.
Everything you’d expect from a modern smartphone here, with HSDPA on the O2 network at 7.2Mbps, as well as EDGE and GPRS for on-the-go mobile broadband. The £429 iPad, which is the same price as the SIM-free Streak deal, only offers Wi-Fi. You’ll need to shell out an extra £100 to get 3G on that device.
Wi-Fi is naturally on-board, with 802.11b/g connectivity maintaining signal exceedingly well and yielding some super-fast browsing, working in tandem with the 1GHz processor. Bluetooth 2.0+EDR also features and, like the Wi-Fi and GPS settings, is accessible from the handy connectivity bar on the Home screen.
We’ve explained how effective the GPS is in terms of navigation, but it’s also useful for geo-tagging pictures too.
The Android Market improves on a daily basis, with 130,000 promised by the end of the year. Outside of that, we found the custom Facebook and Twitter widgets to be particularly effective, occupying half a Room each, comfortably alongside each other.
Both widgets have been specifically designed for the Dell Streak and feature live updates as well as the ability to update your status with a single touch.
Any status update can be automatically sent to the other site too. If you want to go further than viewing statuses, you’ll need to launch an external application and you’re probably best going with the browser.
We mentioned the live news, YouTube and email widgets earlier in the review, which really make use of the extra screen size, but aside from that it’s your regular array of Android 1.6 applications, downloadable from the nicely-designed Market.
When comparing it to the iPad though, it really is men against boys. The Apple device has already pioneered a host of specifically designed applications that revolutionise not only the way we think of applications, but the way in which we use the web.
There isn’t that same sense with any Android device at the moment, and it’s difficult to see a host of creation tools, powerful music apps, games, magazines with built-in image galleries and video content or revolutionary new incarnations of our favourite websites emerging in the near future.
The Dell Streak isn’t really a contender in those stakes, and is probably lagging Motorola’s Motoblur and HTC’s Sense UI in terms of the manufacturer widgets outside of the Android Market.
In this job, reviewing gadget upon gadget, it isn’t often that a device comes into the office that you really don’t want to give back once the review is complete. This is one of those devices we’ll be clinging onto until the legal teams get involved.
As to whether the Dell Streak is a tablet or a smartphone? We think this device transcends the question. After careful investigation we can safely say that’s it’s so much more than the sum of its parts, and can confidently declare this as one of the finest convergence gadgets available on the market.
If Dell was marketing this as a smartphone, it would be a noble first entry for the company into that arena, but as the tablet it professes the Streak to be, it offers the functionality and power to provide a viable alternative to the impending Apple procession.
We were impressed with the interface Dell has pasted over the Android 1.6 operating system. It’s very logical and allows rapid maneuvering between the Streak’s outstanding feature set.
Moving between home screen Rooms, whizzing through menus and working within applications is extremely snappy thanks to the 1GHz processor, which is a match for any smartphone we’ve seen this year.
Amid all of the arguments about whether it’s a smartphone or a tablet, and whether the screen size is suitable for either, it’s easy to forget that this device fulfils so many other needs very well indeed.
The camera yields results better than anything outside of Sony Ericsson’s well-specced stable, while Google’s turn-by-turn navigation turns the 5-inch screen into a competent satnav free of charge.
There are minor disappointments, such as the poor speakers, under-performing music player, distinct lack of a messaging dictionary and lack of Flash support, but mainly our experiences using this device are overwhelmingly positive.
There are plenty of reasons not to buy this device. It may be too big for you to feel comfortable using it as a smartphone or too small for it to truly consider a tablet despite the fact that it works well as both.
If you have your heart set on an iPad then this won’t change your mind. Apple’s App Store and the multitude of impressive new apps are beyond reproach, notwithstanding its brilliant touch screen and overall user experience that’s currently on a different level to everything in the world.
In truth, it’s probably also a little too small to sway iPad fanciers, who have preconceptions about how big a tablet should be. Asus and HP might have a better shot at that.
However, this device can confidently claim to offer greater functionality than most devices, including the iPad. A smartphone, a brilliant camera, a web-savvy tablet PC and a satnav packed into a sleek and sexy package that’s still small enough to fit in the pocket.
Here is a device that truly bridges the gap between the smartphone and tablet universes and proves, once and for all, that you really don’t need both.