Dell Streak: AT&T Only, $299 with Contract, $549 Without

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The Dell Streak, you’ll recall, is a 5-inch Android tablet with phone-like abilities, a previously-reported launch date of “late July” and an initially-reported unlocked price of $500.

The Streak is up for pre-sale on Dell.com and still says “Available for purchase in late July,” though LAPTOP is now reporting that the unlocked price will be $549. Dell itself has also made it clear now that the Streak won’t work with T-Mobile, which has come as a surprise to some would-be Streak owners judging by a handful of the comments on Dell’s post.

The company’s blog post also says “There are many pieces that need to fall into place to release a product like this, and the reality is that we need more time to work out some things before we can share the details that many of you are waiting for.” It seems a bit odd to not be able to share details about a product that’s supposed to launch by this Saturday at the latest but, again, the Streak product page still says “Available for purchase in late July.” Perhaps it’s starting to look like the purchase date and the actual availability date will be two distinct points on the space/time continuum.

The details that Dell has covered in its blog post are that the “Streak will not be certified for T-Mobile operation overall,” the Streak will ship with Android 1.6 under the hood and “the Android 2.2 over the air update (Froyo) will come later this year,” and it’ll be available in Carbon Black at launch with Cherry Red “coming soon.”

What’s not mentioned in the blog post or the product page is the Dell Streak’s pricing. LAPTOP says that “it will run you $299 with a two-year AT&T contract and $549 unlocked.” And with that, a storm’s a-brewing.

For starters, Dell’s been showing the Streak off on video running Android 2.1, yet it’s going to ship with Android 1.6 and won’t be upgraded to Android 2.2 until “later this year.” Dell’s Ron Garriques told CNET it would be “Q4.”

Second, the “Tech Specs” on the product page list the Streak as having only 2GB of built-in storage, which may rub some people the wrong way. The memory is expandable but including 2GB seems low for a $299/$549 device, especially knowing that the UK version of the Streak can be had for free.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, a quick perusal of the comments on Dell’s latest post shows that the natives are getting restless.

Here are a few choice snippets:

“Here we are, probably on the eve of the pre-order, and I just find out that there will be no T-Mobile 3G, even after FCC clearance. If you planned to sell it unlocked, why on earth would you restrict yourself to AT&T?”

“It is clear that Dell has an Eclair (2.1) build of Android working on the Streak. Although the phone is coming with 1.6, I’ll be happy to get the phone earlier if I can update to the 2.1 build (even if it is still beta) shortly after getting the phone during the pre-sale (ie. no longer than 1 week after I get the phone). This would make it more bearable to wait for the 2.2 Froyo update. Otherwise the lack of functionality with 1.6 basically kills the deal for me (and from what I’ve read, many users won’t buy the unit – even if they’ve pre-sale registered like me – unless the OS deal is sweetened either by an immediate over-the-air update and/or given a firm date that is at latest beginning of September for update to Froyo).”

“I am not a regular poster but this time I feel compelled. Dell has done a poor job with this release. Android 1.6 is not acceptable as well as not allowing the phone to be used with T-Mobile. Where is the incentive to buy one when you are so far behind the others?”

“I have to agree with most of the sentiments posted here so far.This has been a strange, disappointing and frustrating product rollout, even more so given the fact that the product has been released already in the UK.”

So we’ll see if the Streak’s main selling point—the 5-inch screen—will be enough to ensure its success. As of now, it’s looking like Dell may be fighting an uphill battle against its own price tag, lack of carrier compatibility, and an outdated operating system.

More on Techland:

Dell Streak 5-inch Tablet to US in July, Priced at $500 Unlocked

Dell’s 5-inch ‘Streak’ Tablet to UK in June, US Late Summer

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