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Early BlackBerry PlayBook Reviews Roundup – Promising?

BlackBerry PlayBook Friday

At about 9PM last night a slew of BlackBerry PlayBook reviews were released by new sites around the globe. The results seem to convey a bit of confusion on the reviewers part at a device many reviewers feel is a bit “Half Baked” and “Rushed to market.” I wish we could dig deeper into that but until tonight at the launch party we won’t be able to say either way. I actually reached out to a few of the reviewers and it seems like RIM more or less let the device speak for itself which seems to have blown back in their faces. There is a reason Apple has a seriously coordinated and executed PR plan for reviews. Right now the only people defending the device seem to be in the comments on these reviews.

Until we can give our own take we decided to collect summaries of the conclusions from the main reviews. Let us know what you think:

Anandtech: “There’s a lot to like about the PlayBook, but unless you’re an existing BlackBerry user you’re better off waiting to see where RIM takes this thing.”

CrackBerry: “If you like the size of the device and feel of the BlackBerry Tablet OS, it may be the tablet for you, especially if you plan to use it mainly for web browsing, media consumption, and if you own a BlackBerry, to take advantage of the Bridge functionality.”

Bloomberg: “It’s impossible to say whether RIM’s bet-the-company strategy will pay off. Still, who would have thought that the maker of some of the world’s least exciting smartphones would have produced a product this slick? The PlayBook makes BlackBerry relevant again.”

AllThingsD: “unless you are constantly glued to a BlackBerry phone, or do all your email, contacts and calendar tasks via a browser, I recommend waiting on the PlayBook until more independently usable versions with the promised additions are available.”

BGR: “I can’t help but feel like the PlayBook, as it stands now, is an unfinished product. The hardware is there but the software is buggy at times,and  the apps are severely lacking and almost non-existent in terms of quality. While the Web browser is extremely solid, with no native email or calendar or contact apps, the PlayBook isn’t a very good standalone product.”

Joshua Topolsky: 6/10 “The worst part, however, is that I can’t think of a single reason to recommend this tablet over the iPad 2, or for that matter… the Xoom.”

CNET: 3.5/5 The BlackBerry PlayBook ably showcases RIM’s powerful new mobile operating system, but its middling size diminishes many of its best features.

GigaOm: “Android tablets have a worthy rival in the PlayBook. It lacks the overall polish of the iPad 2, but give it a little time and RIM could get the hardware and experience right. Even with this first release, it is among my top three tablets picks. I am glad they are in the market and will prove to be a worthy competitor.”

LaptopMag: 2.5/5 “The BlackBerry PlayBook is a powerful and good-looking tablet, but buggy software and the need to tether a phone to get BlackBerry e-mail and other key apps hold it back.”

Engadget: “Right now, the BlackBerry PlayBook is a tablet that will come close to satisfying those users who gravitate toward the first word in its name: BlackBerry. Those who were more excited about the "play" part would be well advised to look elsewhere, at least until Android compatibility joins the party. Then, well, anything could happen.”

Gizmodo: “In a lot of ways, the PlayBook is more polished and usable in its beta state than the Motorola Xoom, and it’s straight-up the best seven-inch tablet out there. At the same time, I don’t think anyone should buy it right now—BlackBerry user or otherwise—for at least a few months, to see if the platform has enough legs to carry itself to where it needs to be.”

NYTimes: “The PlayBook, then, is convenient, fast and coherently designed. But in its current half-baked form, it seems almost silly to try to assess it, let alone buy it.”

PCWorld: “The BlackBerry PlayBook gets a lot right, but it also feels very much like a work in progress. It could shine in the future, but for now it’s constrained by its limited app selection, software glitches, and choices in functionality or design that should limit the PlayBook’s popularity among consumers.”

Wired: “It’s a well-constructed device with great media-viewing capabilities, solid hardware specs and a price on par with the current tablet market. But with serious gaps in key areas like app selection and Flash stability, you may want to think twice before picking one up.”

TechCrunch: “As a whole, I’d say that RIM’s first attempt at an entirely new product is a valiant effort. The problem they face is the same one that everyone in the space faces: Apple.”

Let us know if you spot any others. It was kind of painful collecting all of these reviews that are more or less harping on the same lack of email/calendar for the Bridge, buggy experience, and lack of apps.

31 total comments on this postSubmit your comment!
  1. Holy crap. How did they let this backfire so bad in their face. What were they thinking. This is embarassing.

  2. Apps… who needs stinking apps? We have the FULL WEB! lol I kind of agree about the email/calendar thing though. But I still hope to have one on the 19th.

  3. I know now why there is no ad campaign. They don’t want anyone to buy an unfinished product and be unhappy. They want the geeks to buy it first. The geeks who know whats coming. So when they rave about it when its ready, people will be more inclined to buy. The advertising will ramp up when the software is actually ready.

    At least the hardware is top notch. You can’t upgrade that like you can the software.

    This doesn’t change my plan to buy this as I know the upgrades will come, but, this does make me feel disappointed in a company I love so much……….again…

  4. Apple had a 10 year head start with the iOS. the PB will catch up.

    • I don’t mind the faults per say. I know the faults are software based and will be fixed shortly.

      What is saddening is that this fact is being lost on the general public and being ripped by everyone.

      Not one reviewer said the product was bad, they just can’t asses it until its ready, and its not.

      Who knows, the update that comes when you have to open the box on April 19th may fix everything!

  5. Yeah I really don’t understand why they sent review models with out-of-date software to a bunch of reviewers who are notorious for bagging on them. Did no one in the office foresee this? Is it that ludicrous to assume they will not update the software and instead review based on beta? Overall with consideration that these are reviews on software that is still being worked on, they are pretty positive. You can tell the ones who chose not to update though.

    • 100% agree. I have read most of the reviews and they are almost all the same and almost all the issues are fixed with a simple update.

      I agree with you regarding the forseeing part, but, would it have been worse if they didn’t send out review units? Would BGR have posted an article ripping RIM for not sending out review units? I am not sure.

      They gambled and sorta lost. Now they gotta move on and put this setback behind them.

      • I dunno, but I don’t think they ever tried to just not send those people units. Apple does it. It would be better to get ripped on for not giving them anything than to get ripped on for the actual product.

        • see that’s the thing. Apple is notorious for spinning their own news. They pester reporters if they get anything less than an 8/10. They also force them to 1+ hour briefings that many times end up word for word in reviews… RIM just failed to plan and ended up in “best practice” hell

          • wow, I didn’t know they went that far. Thanks for the info Ronen.

          • I’m not so sure RIM failed to plan. Who releases a perfect product? How many months of testing do they have to undergo? I’m happy RIM released it and I appreciate them letting people form their opinions and hopefully they use that info to update the Playbook accordingly.

            I did not hear anyone calling the iPad a failed or unfinished product when it was released with NO CAMERA.

            People hold RIM to a higher standard. Why, I do not know.

    • For a change I agree with you 😉

      At the very least, they should have set expectations instead of just dumping off review units — and units that aren’t even reflective of the final hardware build. This is shown with the power button issue that *everyone* complained about– yet it won’t even be an issue in the final release. I hope at least that some of these places revisit their reviews in a month or so…

      (BTW – you’re here pretty regularly – might want to register, get in on the playbook contest?)

      • Yeah that power button thing is amazing. Years ago I was a Project Manager for OEM electronics manufacturer, and these units should pretty much be the mass production ones. Its weird how RIM says the power button is different on MP units. What did they send out then? My own customers used to gripe about little plastics problems months before MP, I would have got shot over this lol.

  6. I’m glad they made it out there. Hopefully it will never be a finished product and we can continue to look for better things ahead.

  7. I hope Display units will be updated! I would imagine we’ll see a flury of updates in the first few months.

    I’m still happy to have it on the 19th, but I have to think that when Mike L announced the Playbook way back they thought they were further ahead than they actually were.

    The reviews are true, they seem to us unfair because we were all hoping for a playbook home run, but really how can reviewers say run out and buy this if you don’t have a blackberry?

    I’ve read a few but not all reviews and the ones I’ve read all point to the potential of the product. That is even the likes of BGR does not say the playbook is shit. He just says not there yet, which is right.

    If RIM was not able to give us OS updates like with their phones, then I would cancel my order, but I’m willing to “ride out” the kinks and I bet you I will be pretty happy with this product.

    • [quote]The reviews are true, they seem to us unfair because we were all hoping for a playbook home run, but really how can reviewers say run out and buy this if you don’t have a blackberry?[/quote]

      Well said. *most* of the reviews are fair. What’s frustrating is this: they almost all agree that this is a solid device; it has a lot of potential. If you want to use it for media consumption (the primary use of tablets for many people) it’s really ready today.

      However, nobody has a summary or even a headline that reflects that information– even though the sentiment is expressed by 80% of the reviews.

      • Marc read Bloomberg and PCMag (Sascha Segan) links on crackberry. They are both pretty positive, especially bloomberg (a core audience for Blackberry BTW)

        The more I read and see, I’m thinking by April 19th these reviews will be a distant memory and we’ll all be ginning like Cheshire Cats! Actually it’s nice that these reviews allow us to see the product without our heads in the clouds, we’ll appreciate it more and if an app crashes we won’t be shocked.

  8. “Promising?” I’m not sure how you divine THAT from so many overwhelmingly negative reviews. Most of the reviewers seem to be saying the same thing, and I agree. There’s NO APPS. We can say “live on the web” and use browser based apps all we want, but the simple truth is the consuming public just isn’t there yet. Perhaps I’m biased because I’ve been using a ChromeOS cr48 for 4 months now and it’s got the same problem, few apps. In fairness, I DID give up my Windows laptop after this long with Mario, but that’s because I still have a desktop PC and a work laptop that I can go to and run apps.

    I think the good news out of all these (and I admit I have not read them ALL) is the generally favorable impression of the hardware. That’s good news for RIM, as it’s a whole lot easier to fix software than it is to fix the hardware.

    • Dave there will be 3,000 apps at launch. 3000>0 the last time I checked.

      Just as an example crackberry is showing an app for Four Square that will be up. You are going overboard with the no app stuff.

      You need to read them all and all the way through.

      I devine it because I’ve read the reviews all the way through. They are saying don’t buy this yet (especially if you don’t own a blackberry) they are not saying don’t buy this period.

    • Hey David notice the big question mark after promising? :)

  9. Just have to add some reviews were a little dumb like no apps when they know there will be 3,000 at launch.

    And finally…. didn’t we all see this coming? We live in a world gaga over anything apple does.

    I really think a big part of the bad review is current Blackberry phones which give these people a negative attitude going in. Given that the phones aren’t up to snuff the view is what’s wrong with this product? oh here it is, let me tell you.

  10. It is a little disheartening to read some of the early reviews. I do question the validity of some of their points though. I have read how the power button is very hard to press and is required to bring the device out of sleep mode. Other sites indicate that a swipe on the bezel will bring it out of sleep mode. The biggest complaint that any of the reviewers have is the lack of native email. That does concern me even though I have a Torch to bridge with. Yes, I’ve heard that you can just run your web mail, but it just isn’t the same. I hope that RIM is working quickly to create the native apps that need to be there for this thing to take off among non-Blackberry users.

  11. I think RMM made a critical mistake. Like the old adage in politics goes: Define yourself, don’t let your opponent can define you. They should have realized that these critics already have a biased view of BlackBerry in general and any small defect that the IPad would have been able to get away with, the PlayBook would not. Hopefully, consumers will look beyond the reviews and try it out for themselves. It would be a shame if poor marketing doomed a magnificent product.

    • you hit the nail on the head. I’m not worried about the product at all I’m worried that the marketing snafu will sink it before it has a chance.

      The question is who goofed? the head of marketing that is leaving, or is he leaving because some dummies over-ruled him???

  12. Let’s think about the native email for a minute here, if your BlackBerry has one and your playbook has one…would they both be linked somehow through RIM?
    Besides, the apps for emails are so silly I usually check my computer to see images properly.
    People are so biased by the apps thingy they are forgetting that apps are usually made either to simplify (kinda) or make compatible in the first place (does java and adobe ring a bell)
    Patience lads….patience

  13. people who’ve got nothing better to do than trash on others are just losers.

  14. what about the bbmsn ? i guess is not comming on it as well ?

  15. Since no one put it up in this thread, although it may be up elsewhere on this site. The email issue has already been solved by a third party client that will support gmail and ms exchange.

  16. The Only reason I went in and bought one at FutureShop – Was that it played Flash Beaaaaauuuutifully!!

    Also, it’s size! My God, I have the iPad… but the pixels shoved into that screen size makes it much worthy than pixel sparsed 10″.

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