Another day, another tablet in the category now dominated by Apple's iPad. On Wednesday, Dell CEO Michael Dell said his company will offer a second tablet, a seven-inch version of its Streak device.
The company's deeper investment in tablets joins its already-released five-inch Streak. Both tablets are based on Google's open-source Android operating system, although the current Streak, which is part smartphone, launched with the older 1.6 version.
'Sweet Spot for Tablets'
Dell showed the newest tablet at the Oracle conference currently under way in San Francisco, Calif., but declined to provide further details. He did say that the five-inch Streak will soon be offered through Best Buy stores.
The seven-inch form factor could become "the sweet spot for tablets," said Sarah Rotman Epps, an analyst with industry research firm Forrester. She said the iPad's size, with a 9.7-inch display, "is great for display and reading, but seems not the best size for human ergonomics." By contrast, she said, a seven-inch tablet can be held with one hand.
Epps said the five-inch tablet is "too small to type with two hands, and too wide to use your thumbs."
Samsung's Galaxy Tab, which will be released in the U.S. through the four biggest wireless carriers, is a seven-incher, and there have been reports that Apple is currently manufacturing a seven-inch version of its iPad, possibly for release as early as the first quarter of 2011.
Setting size aside, Epps noted "several problems" with Dell's growing Streak product line. The five-inch Streak, she pointed out, does not use the most recent version of Android, which means, among other things, that it doesn't support Adobe Flash.
'Little Too Stripped Down'
In general, she said, the user experience of the current Streak "is a little too stripped down," and it "almost feels like a mini-Dell computer." But the tablet category is rapidly changing, and Epps said her firm expects "multiple new devices to populate the space between smartphones and netbooks." In addition to Dell and Samsung, tablets have been announced, released or reported in development by Hewlett-Packard, ASUSTeK, BlackBerry maker Research In Motion, and others.
RIM's upcoming BlackPad tablet, reported this week in The Wall Street Journal, will also be a seven-inch touchscreen. But even though the device is expected to have this now-popular size, it will have two new approaches. It will feature an operating system that is completely new to tablets, from RIM-owned QNX Software Systems, and it will only be able to connect to cell networks through a BlackBerry smartphone.
The approaches will certainly distinguish RIM's new tablet, and differentiation -- including competitive pricing -- will be crucial for any of the new tablets to gain any market share.
Given the current and expected field of tablets, Rotman said that none will become a "one-to-one competitor to the iPad." However, she predicted that, "collectively, Android-based tablets will outsell the iPad within two to three years."
Posted: 2010-10-14 @ 5:41am PT
"A seven-inch version of Dell's Streak tablet computer is in the works, according to CEO Michael Dell. The Android-based device would be larger than Dell's current five-inch Streak tablet/smartphone."
It is interesting that the 7 inch model is going to be larger than the 5 inch. I am not science or math major but come on. 7 inch larger than 5 inch? Dah! That is too funny.