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Dell’s Android mini-tablet unveiled

May 25, 2010 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive
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Dell says its Streak mini-tablet — featuring a five-inch touchscreen, voice telephony, the Android operating system, and a Snapdragon processor — will begin shipping next month. Meanwhile, Opera Software announced an Android-ready, “touch-optimized” tablet version of its Opera Mobile 10 browser.

Dell did not add many hardware details to the specs for the Streak —  originally referred to as the Mini 5 — that have been tipped in rumor-mill stories going back to October. But it did reveal that the mini-tablet will first ship next month in the U.K. via the carrier O2, and will be available in the U.S. later this summer.

At CES in January, Dell showed off a "slate" prototype that appears to be the forerunner of the Streak, and then last month, Engadget posted a leaked photo of the Streak, along with some other details. Now Dell has confirmed most of these specs, adding some more detail, but has yet to post a full spec list.


Dell Streak
(Click to enlarge)

As had been previously tipped, the Streak runs on a 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon, now commonly found in high-end Android smartphones. The MID-like mini-tablet ships with 2GB of internal flash memory, as well as an SD slot capable of holding up to 32GB, says Dell. The company does not supply internal RAM details, although Engadget suggests the figure is 512MB.

The Dell Streak is equipped with a five-inch capacitive, multitouch touchscreen with WVGA resolution, says Dell. As expected, the device offers WiFi, Bluetooth, and 3G connectivity. The latter is a UMTS/GPRS/EDGE class 12 GSM radio with speeds of up to 7.2Mbps (HSDPA), says the company. According to Dell, the Streak will support voice telephony.

As had been previously noted, the Streak offers a five-megapixel autofocus camera with dual LED flash, as well as a VGA front facing camera, according to Dell. There are no details on other likely features such as accelerometers and audio jacks.

Dell did not mention which version of Android the Streak will initially offer, but considering that the Streak is said to feature integrated Google Maps — with turn-by-turn navigation, plus street and satellite views — Android 2.0 or 2.1 seem likely. Android Market, as well as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube integration are also said to be part of the picture.


Dell Streak with what appears to be interface enhancements to Google Maps Navigation

(Click to enlarge)

Dell says it will include "Dell interface enhancements" atop Android. The screenshot above suggests that such enhancements may be at work with Google Maps Navigation. According to Dell, navigation is safer on the larger five-inch screen than it is on a smartphone.

The Streak will support over-the-air updates, including platform upgrades. Updates are said to include "Adobe Flash 10.1 on Android 2.2 later this year," as well as video chat applications "and other software innovations."

Don't call it a MID

Along with other vendors introducing five-inch Android tablets, Dell is gambling that the MID (mobile Internet device) market fizzled not because of the size of the device, but due to the use of the underpowered, battery-hogging Intel Atom and rough-edged, app-deprived Moblin Linux stack.

Indeed, with the app-rich, increasingly mature Android running on a 1GHz Snapdragon, the experience should be considerably improved. Of course, later this year, Intel, Nokia, and their allies are firing back with the faster, more power-efficient N6xx "Moorestown" version of the Intel Atom, and a more mature MeeGo operating system based on Moblin and Maemo.

Most vendors rushing to build tablets are opting for larger screen sizes, ranging from seven to 11 inches on the diagonal, so the Streak may be something of a risky bet. The Streak is not large enough to look "iPad-like" or fit comfortably on one's lap, yet, judged as a phone, it's a bulky device.

Still, one could argue that most of today's Android apps will look more at home on the smaller screen that they would, say, on a 10-inch tablet. Battery life is also likely to be better.

Stated Ron Garriques, president, Dell Communication Solutions Group, "The Dell Streak hits the sweet spot between traditional smartphones and larger-screen tablets. Its unique size provides people new ways to enjoy, connect, and navigate their lives." 


Dell's Looking Glass
Source: Engadget
(Click to enlarge)

Dell itself is planning a seven-inch, 800 x 480 tablet called the "Looking Glass," according to the previously mentioned story in Engadget. Due in November, the Looking Glass (pictured above) will run Android 2.1 on an Nvidia Tegra 2 processor, says the story. Other features are said to include ATSC or DVB-T programming via an optional TV tuner, a 1.4 megapixel camera, and 4GB of flash.

Opera to release tablet-focused browser for Android

Dell did not mention which web browser would be available on the Streak, although it is presumably Android's native WebKit version. Another option may be available by the time the Streak comes stateside, however. This week, Opera Software announced it would soon unveil a new web browser aimed at e-readers and tablets, according to a story in our sister publication, WindowsForDevices.

Due to be uncloaked at next week's Computex show in Taiwan, "Opera for tablets" will be "touch-optimized" and deliver "out-of-the-box productive quality" for both Android and Windows CE, the company says. The software will also target publishers who want to make books and other content available on "standards-compatible, open platforms," according to the story.

Opera says e-reader OEMs will be able to develop customized browsers based on the Opera Presto rendering engine. They'll also be able to tab into an "end-to-end" widget solution, an applications store, and an existing developer community, the company adds.

Opera for tablets will be based on Opera Mobile 10, which has been promised for Android, but not yet been publicly released. However, Opera Software did recently release an Android version of its Opera Mini 5, previously available only in a Java Virtual Machine (JVM). (For more information on Opera's tablet browser, see the coverage in WindowsForDevices, here.)

Availability

The Dell Streak will be available in early June across the U.K. at O2 stores, O2.co.uk, The Carphone Warehouse, and later in the month, at Dell.co.uk, says the company. Pricing and data plans for the U.K. will be announced by O2 ahead of availability. Later this summer, Dell says it plans to make Streak available in the U.S.


This article was originally published on LinuxDevices and has been donated to the open source community by QuinStreet Inc. Please visit LinuxToday.com for up-to-date news and articles about Linux and open source.

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