If it was possible to drown in plastic and silicon, we would so choke to death on all the Android tablets coming soon. This is a guide to not making one. The Dell Streak 7 followed it precisely.
The Dell Streak 7 is perhaps the last Android tablet from a major manufacturer that will follow this guide. In a couple of months, after the tablet-centric Android 3.0 becomes de rigeur for any decent producer of Android-powered knick-nacks and bobbles, we'll enter a new phase of Android tablets where across-the-field genericness is offset by the taste and utility of Honeycomb. (In fact, I hope manufacturers don't take too deeply to differentiating by tweaking Honeycomb, since they've proven over and over again Google has better designers than they do.) But that doesn't mean we won't see plenty more tablets from other manufacturers that follow the template set out by the Streak 7:
1. Use a middling, low-res screen with crummy viewing angles.
2. Use out-of-date software designed for a phone.
3. Halfway cover up said out-of-date software with a custom interface that is only mediocre—like covering a tiny face stretched across a giant head with a ski mask made out of wet flannel.
4. Make something with the heart of a cheetah—the Tegra 2—occasionally respond so slowly that a crippled turtle drowning in a meteor-sized ball of laffy taffy would move with greater speed.
5. Make sure that your pokes are ignored at least one quarter of the time you try to touch something on the screen.
6. Get rid of the search button without a good reason. (Was there not enough space? I do not think so.)
7. Require a two-year contract to buy it, tethering its money-draining corpse to you long after it's obsolete.
8. Turn the apps screen into a version of Minesweeper called, "App or Crapware?" (I am looking at you, BrainPOP.)
9. Design a paperback-sized device—that is still almost as much phone as tablet—around the idea that it'll primarily be held in a landscape position.
10. Pull all calling functions out of your giant phone-tablet.
If you absolutely must pick up a 7-inch Android tablet immediately, the Samsung Galaxy Tab is better at this very moment. The pickle is that the Streak has better guts and will one day be updated to Android 3.0, which will likely obliterate the software problems, while we've heard that the Galaxy Tab may not ever be updated to 3.0. (That said, Honeycomb won't do anything to fix the Streak 7's mediocre screen, which is totally inferior to the Tab, and we hate the idea of purchasing anything predicated on the hopes or promises of a software update, which is only slightly less risky than purchasing a lottery ticket.)
It's $200 with a two-year contract on T-Mobile, after a $50 rebate. Or you can buy it off-contract for $450. Given the flood of Android tablets that are in the pipe though, I'd very much just wait. Either for another Android tablet, or for this one to get 3.0.
Music by Kevin MacLeod