Dell's 7-inch Android Tablet is a Snoozer So Far

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Dell broke the mold with its 5-inch Streak tablet, but its 7-inch follow-up merely joins the pack.

Dell chief executive Michael Dell flashed the Android tablet at the Oracle Openworld conference in San Francisco, but provided no other details. It's just a prototype, he said. Price and release date were unspecified.

The company's 5-inch Streak was launched in August and worked as a tiny tablet, but faltered as a smartphone replacement. Still, with no other notable manufacturers planning 5-inch tablets, Dell owns that category. In 7 inches, Dell joins a field that's getting a lot of attention.

Image courtesy of Engadget. (Click to zoom.)
Is Dell's new tablet worth getting excited about? Definitely not yet. In April, Engadget leaked the Dell's tablet plans, and said the 7-inch model would run Android 2.1, with an 800-by-480 resolution screen and 4 GB of internal storage -- dismal specs considering the competition.

Samsung's Galaxy Tab, a 7-inch tablet that launches this holiday season, runs Android 2.2 and has a 1024-by-600 resolution screen and either 16 GB or 32 GB of internal storage. I would not be surprised if Dell is now trying to make its next tablet more powerful than previously reported.

But even if the Dell tablet catches up with the Galaxy Tab on specs, it's still a me-too product unless Dell finds another way to innovate. Samsung seems to have the basics covered -- a fast, light, 7-inch device with front and rear cameras and a suite of essential apps, to make up for Android's lack of existing apps for large screens. And if rumors of a tablet from BlackBerry maker Research in Motion prove accurate, the field of 7-inch devices will be crowded by the time Dell arrives.

Dell's challenge will be to load the 7-inch tablet with superior software than its competitors -- useful apps and the upcoming Android 3.0, which will supposedly be better for tablets -- or to sell it at an unbeatable price. Michael Dell's tease at Oracle Openworld was an empty gesture.

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