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The Dell Streak, or Mini 5 depending on which of the PC’s insiders you believe, is coming soon. Very soon. Michael Dell, the computer cobbler’s head honcho has not only confirmed that it’s landing in June, but also that O2 will be selling it on mobile broadband contract deals. But why is it such a big deal? And with another, rather impressive tablet just a week away from its UK arrival, should you really care?

Well, in a word yes. Because the Dell Mini 5 comes with Android inside. And that makes it a true indicator of what we can expect from Google as it looks to broaden its battle with Apple and take Android into the slate space in the coming months. The Mini 5, as its name suggests, isn’t nearly as big as the 9.7-inch iPad. It’s a mere five inches, striking a compromise between the slew of new slates being lined up and the bigger smartphones on the market. But having seen one in action, albeit a prototype at CES, it looks mighty impressive.

Michael Dell has recently shown it off using Citrex software to remotely control your PC while out and about. And what’s more it’ll have proper Android functionality, including access to Android Market, giving it an edge on tablets other than the iPad, which don’t come with fully loaded app stores to play with. JooJoo, we’re looking at you.

dell streak new

Yet beyond the Streak, what’s more fascinating are Dell’s plans for larger devices using the same Android software. There’s talk of 7 and 10-inch models which would really encroach on the iPad’s territory. If you want an alternative to Apple’s effort, then one of these could be a good bet. The Mini 5’s specs give a good indicator of what to expect, with multitouch, SnapDragon processor, a 5 megapixel camera, Bluetooth and 256MB of RAM. If Dell can get a contract or straight-up price well under the iPad’s opening offer of £429, then this could represent a more than viable way forward.

But the key factor here is that Google is taking the world of tablets seriously. It’s seen what Apple has done in such a short space of time and knows that it can offer the same, if not more. If Android 2.2, FroYo, arrives on the Mini 5, it’ll pack Flash 10.1 support and give itself a huge advantage over the iPad. Google is surely well aware that the success of devices such as the Mini 5 will prove its intentions to square up to Apple in an even more brazen fashion and give the Cupertino tech giant the fight of its life.

The Mini 5 is already rather snazzy, and it’s not even rocked up yet. But if you love Android and want a tablet, then it has to be the way forward. For once, it seems Dell is shedding its image for being a middle-of-the-road Microsoft lover and joining the cool kids on the Google side of the fence. Good on them, too.

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