dell_streak_web.jpgSAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Lately I’ve been feeling very self-conscious when talking on the phone in public and it’s not because I’m worried about strangers listening in on my private conversations.

Rather, it’s because the cell phone I’m using – the just-released Dell Streak – is actually a touch-screen tablet device that makes some of the clunkiest handsets from the late ’90s look diminutive by comparison.

The Streak ($300 with a two-year AT&T contract) is a complicated gadget. For a tablet computer, it is fairly small and thin — a fraction the size of Apple Inc.’s popular iPad. Its face is dominated by a touch screen that is 5 inches diagonally, compared with the iPad’s 9.7-inch display.

Yet Dell insists it is also a phone, and as such it is fairly enormous and uncomfortable to talk on. Beyond that, it comes with an older version of Google Inc.‘s Android software. Overall, it’s just too awkward to bear.

The Streak’s enormity is inescapable. It’s a little less than six inches long and three inches across, so it looked mammoth in my petite hands. I felt like a little kid holding her father’s smart phone.