The Dell Streak Android tablet is basically a really big smartphone. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. the 5 inch display on the Streak gives you plenty of room to gaze at the web browser or other Android apps. And the fact that you can make and receive phone calls, send text messages — and run the Android Market with support for tens of thousands of third party apps, make this tablet a heck of a lot more useful than other 5 to 10 inch Android tablets we’ve seen so far.

That could all change if and when Google gets around to allowing non-phones to access the Android Market. But for now if you’re looking for something bigger than a smartphone with some of the best features found on any Android device, the Dell Streak is probably one of the best options around. Unfortunately it’s still saddled with Android 1.6, although an Android 2.2 Froyo update is expected in the next few months.

The catch is that it’s not available for purchase in the US yet… but Dell has just posted pre-order information. You can sign up to be notified when the device goes up for pre-order, which is expected to happen before the end of the month.

For now we’ll have to content ourselves with the fact that Dell sent out a handful of demo units for review. Here’s what a few tech sites had to say about the Dell Streak:

  • Laptop Magazine: It’s big for a phone, but not bad for a tablet, and the software user interface is good — but not great. Adding a number pad to the on-screen keyboard seems like a strange choice. The tablet felt a little sluggish sometimes. It’s a niche device that may not be for everyone.
  • Engadget: It’s a very attractive, very thin phone. The screen is usable outdoors, and is very responsive to touch. The camera wasn’t that great, and while the hardware is awesome, the software is very dated thanks to the limitations of Android 1.6.
  • PC World:  The tablet felt slow, and difficult to navigate — which PC World attributes largely to the older Android 1.6 operating system rather than the hardware. On the plus side, you get Exchange support and some other features that don’t normally come with Android 1.6.

Overall it sounds like the Dell Streak 5 is a mixed bag — but that’s largely due to software rather than hardware. And it’s a lot easier to update software than hardware — or to install unofficial firmware that could fix most problems.

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