Wednesday, February 02, 2011
Computer manufacturers have become active players in the smartphone tablet race for consumer wallets. The entry of white box computer manufacturers into this growing market segment is not surprising due to the commodity nature of computers and the shrinking market for high end PCs. White box PC maker Velocity Micro has created a  “No Name” tablet , branded as the Cruz Reader with a 7 inch screen at a $149 price point using the Android operating system.

Android is an open source software that manufacturers can use for FREE and is being adopted by all the major players. 2011 will be the “Year of Android” as I predict it will be the dominant operating system in the marketplace as hardware manufactures will use a common open system, versus the proprietary operating systems from Apple and Blackberry. Android has just surpassed Nokia’s Symbian and now is the number 1 operating system for smartphones, with a 53% market share of new shipments at the end of 2010.  The use of HTML5 as the industry standard for web software development enables content to be streamed to any device regardless of operating system is another trend that publishers must keep in their radar when making technology decisions.

While computer makers invade the territory of cell phone manufactures, the cell phone manufacturers are not sitting still either, as Motorola noted with its preview of the Xoom 10.1 inch tablet at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January. The tablet uses the Android Honeycomb operating system.  The Motorola Xoom won the “Best of Show” award from editors of CNet and Popular Science. This could be the start of a comeback year for Motorola as a dominant player again.

Dell can be considered the largest white box vendor in the marketplace and the Streak is their entry into the high stakes tablet game. The Dell Streak has a five inch touch screen with all the bells and whistles you need for a small portable device that can fit in your pocket or purse, plus a decent voice enabled GPS for driving. Dell expects to launch 7 inch and 10 inch versions of this device in the near future using the Android Honeycomb operating system that was designed for tablets.

The Streak is being marketed as a pocket tablet and is available for $399 on the Dell website, or $199 in the U.S. with a 2 year contract on AT&T's network. It's dimensions are 3 x 3.1 x 0.4 inches weighing 7.7 ounces. The amount of storage is 16 GB with 512 MB SRAM. It can be used as a video phone as it comes with 2 cameras.

The Dell Streak Pocket Tablet Scorecard:
The gadgets in this blog will be based on a scorecard and will be evaluated on these 4 criteria to arrive at the score.

Download Speeds: The connectivity options for the device include 3G wireless, wifi and blue tooth (computer to computer) with a 1 GHz processor, so there is plenty of power and speed for any application. To get an Android APP for the device requires you to have a Google account. The device is also Flash enabled, but you will need to go to the Android App store to download.

Readability: Reading on a 5 inch screen offers almost 2x more screen real estate for viewing than your typical smartphone with a 3.5 inch screen. The HD quality of screen offers superb high resolution graphics for a small screen. The type size of web sites visited was still small 4-6 pt but readable. You can pinch and zoom to make the type larger. Magazine digital edition replicas will not work well on a 5 inch screen, so publishers must consider a different presentation of their content on this size of device. A mobile version of the website or digital edition should be considered.

: The user experience is very friendly, the Android interface is an iPhone clone in my opinion. The small size of the device lends itself to big finger syndrome as I accidentally touched different links. Typing on the touch keyboard required me to hold it in one hand and tap with the other which I found clumsy. The “back “command was in the top right corner and I kept touching it with my fingers while using the device.

Price/Feature Value:
I found the device feature rich with more than enough options to keep me happy plus all the Apps that I can access. The voice enabled GPS is  a good added bonus and it is a lot better than any other ones I have seen on other devices, but it was not as good as my TomTom device . At $399 , it may have limited mass appeal, but  in the USA you can get one for $199 with a two year contract which makes it very affordable. If we ever break up the telco cartel we may see some price points like this in Canada.

The Gadget Report Rating:
4 out of 5

This was a good first smartphone tablet  from a leading computer manufacturer. It is a great piece of hardware with a very friendly user experience. The 5 inch screen enables it to stand out amongst the competition. I did find it a little heavy and slippery to hold in one hand due to the plastic outer case. Ryan Winsborrow, my resident geek from Nerds 4 Hire likes the machine based on the display quality, speed and user interface.

Is the the Dell Streak device, the tablet model of the future? This powerful mobile computing devices enables consumer to social network and email; read news, books and magazines; use a GPS for driving; listen to music; take photos; make video phone calls; surf the web; scan barcodes for product information; play computer games; watch tv and movies and just about anything software developers can dream of.

About Me
Martin Seto

Martin Seto is the producer of the Canadian Online Publishing Awards (COPAS) with 30 years of life expereince in technology, advertising, media and creative exploration. He can be reached at marty(dot)seto(at) or 416-907-6562, and on LinkedIn.

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Lorene Shyba says:
Full of terrific information, Thanks!...
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