Dell Streak vs iPad vs Samsung Tab: Best tablet form factor?

PC World News Desk 25 Oct 2010

India today has the options of three tablets that can be bought off the shelf: the Dell Streak, the Apple iPad and the OlivePad-VT100. Samsung Galaxy Tab launch seems to be around the corner as well, promising to spice up the tablet war. While all these are essentially tablets, most of them running on Android, they have different form factors and that’s where each of them might appeal to different audience profiles.

Dell StreakDell Streak: With a 5-inch screen, the Dell Streak is the most compact tablet of the lot. It is not pocketable like the Samsung Galaxy S or the Apple iPhone 4 smartphone but it can possibly slip into a jacket and is the easiest to carry of the other tablets available in India. The smaller size does have its own share of drawbacks, though.

Typing on the screen is a lot tougher compared to the 10-inch iPad, especially if you are expecting to use the Dell Streak for typing emails. The smaller screen also doesn't offer the best experience in terms of browsing, watching videos & reading eBooks. Let’s not forget that the Dell Streak is also a phone, though it would be pretty difficult to use the tablet device as a primary phone.

Apple iPad: The iPad is currently the most popular tablet out there and its USP lies in being the best in what it does. The 10-inch form factor does not allow you to carry it on you (in your pocket). But, once you get past that limitation, the iPad is most definitely the best for browsing, and reading eBooks or magazines. If you can manage to get the iPad case that allows docking horizontally, you could type on the iPad just the way you do on a 10-inch netbook (We have seen people do that).

Apple iPad Tablet

The larger screen with higher resolution makes using the device easier, swiping or tapping on the screen is fluid and there are very few input errors thanks to the larger buttons on the iPad's 10-inch screen. But, obviously the current iPad is not a swiss army knife like the Dell Streak or the Samsung Galaxy Tab. You do not get any cameras, the capacity cannot be upgraded and while it has a 3G option available its limited to data only. And it (thankfully) cannot be used as a phone.

Samsung Galaxy Tab: The most eagerly awaited tablet of the season treads the middle path with a 7-inch screen, making it considerably compact than the iPad and while it still needs a bag to be carried around, holding the device in one hand is pretty comfortable. Unlike the iPad, where you might end up covering some part of the screen when holding it with one hand, the Galaxy Tab can be held comfortably without the paranoia of dropping a 30K device. At 7-inches the Samsung Galaxy Tab's screen is much more comfortable over the Dell Streak.

Samsung Galaxy Tab

Reading and browsing on the Galaxy Tab is a treat, it's almost at par with the Apple iPad. The Galaxy Tab's resolution (800x480) is a good choice for the 7-inch screen. Videos, gaming and other multimedia applications are also well handled by the 7-inch form factor, it does not feel limiting for personal viewing. The area where the Galaxy Tab loses out to the iPad is the typing speed. Unlike the docking option for the iPad that allows normal two-handed typing, Samsung Galaxy Tab would be best suited for thumb typing in the portrait mode and in the tablet's landscape mode, you can only use one handed typing like a normal phone.

So, now that you have the good and bad about each of the tablet form-factors. You can pretty much apply the same rules to any tablets that come with 5, 7 or 10-inch screens and choose the tablet that suits your needs best.

The Dell Streak priced at Rs. 34,500 (according to FlipKart) is the only one officially available in India right now, you can buy the Apple iPad on eBay India and Samsung Galaxy Tab is not in India yet. With Dell hinting at a 7-inch Android Streak and the 7-inch Blackberry Playbook announced internationally by RIM, 7-inch seems to be preferred direction.
Other interesting reads:
Dell Streak, OlivePad, Samsung Galaxy Tab: Android Tablet comparison
RIM Blackberry PlayBook: Five strong features
Dell's 7-inch Android tablet: Is it the Looking Glass?
Android 3.0 Gingerbread for Tablets: Feature leaks
HTC, Samsung, Acer Android 3.0 tablets: What do we know?