Not an iPad: The Blackberry Blackpad tablet, what we want and don’t want based on our time with the iPad
Tablets are awesome. But right now it’s really a one device show, Apple has the only marketable tablet out there. There is no real RIM, Android or Windows competitor in the field. But with a mysterious RIM event this week bringing the remote possibility of a surprise Blackpad announcement, its time to start the tablet discussion.
A few of us on the staff have owned iPads for a while now (I won’t out anyone but myself). As Blackberry users who own iPads, here are our thoughts on what RIM can keep, ditch or improve on when creating a unique tablet.
Leave your own suggestions in the comments!
- Screen size: The screen has to be large enough to fit an almost full sized qwerty and still leave some pixel real-estate for working.
- Jewelry like exterior: As a consumer, one of the main differences between an Apple product and others is the exterior build. Because of Jonathan Ive, Apple products are polished and designed like high end jewelry for gadget lovers. I think its time RIM hires its Jon Ive and makes its high end products aesthetically appealing to a broader range of users and specifically those who might have never considered a Blackberry labelled tablet before. A new product line might be time for a new start.
- Use one service connection: Apple gives you the choice of buying a separate AT&T data contract or relying solely on WiFi. RIM can do one better, by allowing users to share their Blackberry’s Internet connection. Carriers might have been hesitant to allow account sharing with multimedia based tablets because of the increased bandwidth required (especially with the current trend of data capped service plans). But if the Blackpad is somewhat as business oriented as the Blackberry, then the increased bandwidth may not be a problem at all.
- Have a USB port: On a mobile phone, I understand why a micro USB connection is needed. However, when making a larger device there really is no excuse.
- Apple’s closed app store: BB App World already filters apps based on what model device you are using. But the App World could use some element of RIM approval and ratings. Users should have some way of knowing when an app is trustworthy and good. Keep the app world open to all, but incorporate a RIM team’s notes and tests. This way, when downloading put side of app world, people will know that they are taking risks that aren’t necessary.
- Integrate support for Microsoft Office products: People want to take a tablet seriously. In order to do that the need to use their serious apps–Microsoft Word and Excel, not some stripped down lite version.
- A healthy market for cases and accessories: Large screen devices have a greater, more sensitive surface area. Anyone who takes it on the road is going to want to protect both it and their investment. RIM has to work with accessory companies such as CaseMate, to make sure that attractive options exist for their Blackpad. Below are two great iPad cases that CaseMate has sent to me to review. I hope that cool cases like this will be in the works for the Blackpad when it is released. But if you have an iPad now while waiting for a RIM competitor, I highly recommend them both.
- The case exterior is a leather-like material with criss crossed fibers for traction. It feels nice on the fingers.
- The binding is soft and shorter than the front and back panels, so unlike Apple’s case the binding will not form sharp edges when closed.
- Typing in the case is doable, but the case really shines when watching videos. The conversion process takes a minute or two. Three snaps have to be unfastened and then the iPad just has to be flipped over and propped at an angle.
Traveller: The traveller is my personal favorite case because it is simply just a carry case that protects the iPad when not in use.
- The exterior material is a soft tan leather, making you feel like you are carrying a high end pouch or notebook. Walking around the streets of Manhattan holding this made me feel like something between a Brooklyn hipster or a fashionable Fifth avenue shopper (for the record I am neither).