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Dell announces Streak tablet phone US launch on Friday

Dell's latest touchscreen tablet-cum-smartphone will take on Apple's iPhone and iPad in the US on Friday when the company launches its 5-inch Streak for $299 with contract, $549 without.

The Streak, which has been anticipated as a major competitor to both Apple's iPhone and iPad, will be available for pre-sale on Thursday and to the general public on Friday. AT&T, which also offers plans for Apple's iPhone and iPad, will serve as the US carrier for the tablet, offering a $250 subsidy on the device with a 2 year contract.

Garnering significant hype at CES in January, the Streak was officially announced by Dell in May. At the time, Lionel Menchaca, chief blogger for Dell, noted that in his 16 years at the Round rock., Tex., company, this was the most buzz around a single Dell product that he had seen.

With its 5-inch form factor, the Streak has been alternately called an over-sized iPhone and a mini iPad. Although originally slated for US release in late July, the device was pushed back several weeks to its release date on August 13. During the time between the Streak's preview at CES in January and its US launch on Friday, Apple announced, released, and had record sales of both the iPad and iPhone 4.

The Wall Street Journal has proclaimed the Dell Streak as "the first major competitor" to the iPad.

The device will ship with the older 1.6 version of Android. Over-the-air upgrades to Android 2.2 have been promised later this year. Although originally demoed in Cherry Red, Carbon Black will be the only color offered at launch.

The UK saw the Streak's initial release in early June. Despite the buzz surrounding the product, sales were underwhelming. During an analyst meeting in June, Chief Executive Michael Dell referred to the device's UK launch as "interesting, exciting, but immaterial to Dell's $60 billion in revenue."