No, Dude, You're Not Getting a Dell


This was supposed to be the big salvo in The Tablet Wars.  The Allies to challenge the Axis.  The von Blucher to challenge Napoleon.  The Android to challenge the iPhone.

But when the preview package arrived, I knew it was time to lower our standards.  Instead of a sleek iPad challenger, the new Dell Streak arrived in the newsroom to snickers.  It was like a bad imitation of  The Office, with comments like, “It’s only that big?,” “That’s not all that much to touch,” and “wow, it’s barely wider than my phone.” Insert your Michael Scott response here.

But guess what? We found a she who said she likes the Streak. Yes, the supposed contender to the iPad throne when it comes to early tablet computers is, in fact, much smaller.  Its screen is five inches in size, about half that of the iPad. For a  tablet, that’s pretty small.  For a phone, though — which the Streak has — it’s actually pretty darn big.

Here’s the new Streak in action:

And it’s the phone that makes the difference to Paulina Baytler. We found Paulina at Orchard Valley Coffee Shop in Campbell, where we brought the Streak to people who had never seen it before. Paulina knows all about the iPad, but hey, she already has a laptop, and the Apple device doesn’t come with a phone or a camera.  The Streak has both (5 megapixels for your photos), and she’s sold. “I like it,” she says, “BECAUSE it’s small and compact.”

Now, not to say that Apple should be worried about the Streak. Early reviews of Dell’s entry have been mixed at best. We’ve come to appreciate our photos, movies, and websites writ large on the iPad. Dell doesn’t give you that. The Streak is, again, barely larger than a smartphone (and the Sprint Evo’s screen gives it a run for its money).

But if Paulina is any indication (and we did find her with three gadgets at her coffee shop table), there just may be a market for a tablet that’s smaller.  The Streak will fit into a pocket or purse, and with the increasingly popular Android operating system built in, it does a lot.

It’s also a bit cheaper. With a contract (Dell, like Apple, is going exclusively with AT&T on this one), it’ll cost you $300. If you’re shopping for a tablet, chances are that the Streak is not going to bring you to lust, like so many people feel with the iPad.  But, if nothing else, it’s a very different choice. One that will actually fit into your pocket or purse.

Yes, Scott also expected something bigger.  He’s on Twitter: @scottbudman

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