After months of dangling the details but withholding price and release date, Dell finally confirmed that AT&T will begin selling its Android-based Streak smartphone/tablet in stores on Friday for $299.99 with a two-year contract.
The pricing, with shoots up to $550 without an AT&T commitment, places the Streak squarely in the middle ground between its two schizophrenic identities. With its 5-inch screen, it's about $100 more than comparably equipped smartphones, but is considerably less expensive than Apple's popular iPad, which ranges from $500 to $830 depending on configuration.
The Streak comes with a customized version of the 1.6 release of Google's Android mobile operating system, though Dell promises an over-the-air upgrade to the current Android 2.2 release later this year. The device has a 1 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, a 5-megapixel camera, 2GB of internal memory and connectivity to both WiFi and AT&T's 3G cellular network. It works as a phone, yet Dell is touting it as a mobile entertainment, navigation and social-connectivity device, emphasizing access to Dell's new mobile application store along with Google's Android Market.
The Streak is the first of a barrage of smartphones and tablets Dell is expected to launch this year, including the Aero Android-powered smartphone it currently sells in China and a 7-inch tablet similar to the Streak, called the Looking Glass. Its also reportedly developing several devices designed to run Microsoft's Windows Phone 7.
In keeping with its hybrid nature, the Streak has gotten generally positive but somewhat mixed early reviews. Much of the criticism stems from the outdated software and some perceptions of lackluster phone performance. Its larger size than most smartphones, along with its diminutive screen compared to 9.7-inch iPad or even popular e-readers like Amazon's Kindle, makes consensus elusive.
For example, the popular UK gadget site Engadget finds the Streak quite practical to carry in the pocket of jeans, while the PC World review published by the Washington Post came to the opposite conclusion.Analysts are also surprised by the relatively high pricing, given that similar Android-based smartphones, like the Droid X that has a nearly-as-big 4.3-inch screen and runs the more current Android 2.1, typically cost $199. Many expect a relatively quick price cut, after the device has been sold to eager early adopters and Dell loyalists who aren't as price sensitive as most consumers.