Performance, Apps, E-Mail, and Web
The make-or-break feature for most Android apps is here: the Android Market. Lesser Android tablets lack market access, and thus the selection of Apps you can download is limited. But the Streak has access to thousands of apps, from gaming to personal finance, the look of each download is generally polished, and they functioned smoothly in my tests.
Game apps, like Let’s Golf, showcased impressive graphics without stuttering, but the screen’s low resolution means they look better on the Galaxy Tab. Amazon’s Kindle app is preloaded, making your tablet a virtual e-reader. Unlike apps on the iPad, however, many Android apps, Kindle included, seem to eventually take you to an actual Web page outside of the app itself. This is not a nuisance, just a difference between iOS and Android’s respective app selections. The preloaded Facebook app is easy to set up and is a useful, mobile version of the site, streamlined to focus primarily on friends’ updates and photos.
By and large, the preloaded apps are useful, and the ones available on the Market are well-polished. Video chat apps are a different story, though, and some of that may have to do with the Streak 7 itself—more on that later. Regardless, the app experience here is a far cry from the barely filtered, user-generated content you have to wade through in Archos’ AppsLib, which is making its way on to tablets outside of the Archos family, as well, like the Coby Kyros MID7015 ($199, 2 stars).
Being that Android is a Google OS, there’s integrated support for Gmail. It’s quite easy to sync your Gmail account with the tablet, but make sure you use the actual Gmail app and not the e-mail app. The latter will work, but notifications are slow—it’s best to use the E-Mail app for non-Gmail accounts. For Gmail and Exchange, your messages are pushed to the home screen as soon as they’re available; for all other accounts, like Yahoo, e-mails are pulled in timed increments, which you can adjust in the settings menu by multiples of five minutes.
Google Android 2.3 or earlier
Storage Capacity (as Tested)
4.7 x 7.9 x 0.5 inches
802.11b, 802.11g, 802.11n, 4G
Providing support for Adobe Flash 10.1 offers an advantage over Apple’s iOS Safari browsing experience, but it should be noted that the Android browser for the Streak 7 still has some issues. Often, it loads the mobile versions, because sites are likely mistaking it for a cell phone, and even when full versions load, there can be issues. I was able to load the full version of ESPN.com, but videos embedded in articles would not play. Generally speaking, this is a far better browsing experience than you’ll find on most Android 2.2-or-earlier devices, but, aside from the Flash advantage, it can’t compete with the iPad Web experience, which offers a more graceful on-screen keyboard and rarely has issues.
What does all of this mean? The Streak 7 lives up to its name—it’s fast, making it ideal for gaming and faster computing. Its processor makes the reaction time of the user interface faster, as well. Keep in mind that these tests are run, however, with no other apps running—obviously the more multitasking you are doing, the slower everything will be—and obviously, for online tasks, this applies to your 4G or wireless strength, as well.
Speaking of 4G…the Streak hit some snags in our upload and download speed time tests. Basically, no matter whether we tested the Streak 7 in the PCMag Lab or down on the street outdoors, all but one of our multiple tests resulted in speeds that are closer to 3G than 4G. This may be a 4G tablet, but, at least in our neck of the woods (Midtown Manhattan), it isn’t as fast as it should be. The average download test result was 1.4Mbps, the average upload was 1.1Mbps, and the highest result for each was: 2.104Mbps down and 1.3Mbps up.
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