The Streak also lacks predictive text and spelling-correction features, which tend to make typing on a touchscreen a faster and more accurate process. Dell has also excised the trackball that you see on most Android phones. That keeps the Streak looking slick, but makes it tough to place the cursor in tiny text. Unlike the iPhone OS, which has a little magnifying glass that helps you find your place, Android doesn't have a software-based solution to this problem. It's another example of how the Android software needs to be tweaked for a tablet to take full advantage of the hardware's potential as a serious emailing and writing device.
Work in progress
In general, the Streak is a good first attempt by Dell at making an Android tablet, but there's plenty of room for improvement. Dell has promised that it will send out an automatic update to version 2.2 of Android within the year, but the Streak is stuck with version 1.6 in the meantime.
On a phone, many users won't miss the latest features of Android. But, on a cutting-edge -- and expensive -- tablet-like device such as the Streak, the absence of the latest version of Android is a disappointment. The lack of support for Exchange email feels like a huge hole, and the app that's pre-installed to handle the task, TouchDown, isn't user-friendly or good-looking.
The big, beautiful maps that you see while running Google Maps are let down by the fact that there's no multi-touch capability to let you zoom in and out easily with a two-fingered pinch or stretch movement -- although you do get this feature in the Web browser and the gallery. There's no free sat-nav in the form of Google Maps Navigation either. Both of these missing features came with a later version of Android.
Videos from YouTube and other sources look good on the Streak's WVGA screen, but BBC iPlayer is a no-go zone. The Web site blocks Android phones, and the unofficial beebPlayer app is no longer available. When the update to Android 2.2 comes out, you'll also get Flash Player 10.1, and the Flash video on the iPlayer will finally be yours. In the meantime, you're out of luck.
The Streak is still packed with features, such as the Android Market, which will let you download thousands of apps and games. But it's no fun to shell out for a new gadget that already feels slightly dated, and then have to wait around for an update without even knowing exactly when it will arrive.
Although the software left us saddened, the Streak's hardware didn't disappoint. Sleek and slim like the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey, the Streak also has a decent 5-megapixel camera that can shoot video. There's even a VGA camera on the front, which will be great for video calling once Skype pulls its finger out and gets its app on Android in the same way it has on the Nokia N900.