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A weekend with the Playbook; My First Thoughts

I am not a RIM only die hard. I am not an Apple fanboy. But I love tech. I had an iPad 1, Samsung Galaxy Tab, I have an iPad 2, and now I have a Blackberry Playbook. It has it’s strengths, it has it’s weaknesses. Some features are currently available, while others are promised to be coming soon. But one thing I can tell you right now, the Playbook (as it currently stands) is already the second best tablet on the market.

I have been reading all the negative reviews, and yes, they make some good points. A lot of the promised features are not yet here, the power button is tiny and hard to push, and the app store is bare. I have my own gripes, and trust me they are coming.  But all the reviews I have read seem to (a) set the bar too high (b) and overlook the Playbook’s strengths.

The Playbook browser is the most powerful tablet browser on the market

We all know the iPad 2 doesn’t play flash. But playing flash doesn’t mean anything unless you can do it well.  The Android tablets that supposedly support flash often do it poorly. Moreover, they wind up doing it in a mobile-only-version-of-the-internet kind of way–giving me watered down content in place of the full blown web. The Playbook browser let’s you run ANY site. We have played Hulu, and even edited photos on Picasa / picnik.
The Playbook holds its own against the competition
Build quality: Taking a cue from Apple, RIM used some serious materials and design.
Size: The Playbook might be smaller, but it feels great in hand. Typing is especially easy in portrait mode.
Selection / Tablet recognition: The Playbook is the only Blackberry tablet.  There is no need to navigate the crowded shelves of Best Buy to figure out which tablet hardware you want from which supplier, ala Android. Like the iPad, it will be self defining. In time you will be able to say you have a Playbook and people will know what you are talking about, without a long complicated explanation.
Conclusion: The Playbook will definitely be one of the top three tablets of 2011. The iPad dominated the tablet market in 2010. Android tablets were announced and disappeared week by week.  But I predict that the Playbook will be one of the only serious iPad competitors standing by the end of the year . . . and that by itself means a lot.
15 total comments on this postSubmit your comment!
  1. I ran into Staples this weekend to see if they had any accessories for the Playbook as I have already pre-ordered it. They actually had one hooked up. While it wasn’t properly setup so that I could really play around with it, it made a very good first impression. The size is very nice and the screen looks great. I can’t wait until I can get my hands on it. It’s been a long wait!

  2. Lucky, I went to my staples and they had nothing Best Buy as well had nothing and didn’t think they would get it tomorrow either 🙁

    I pre-ordered mine through staples and I was told I’d get it tomorrow but the website shows nothing. Shouldn’t it show shipped by now? 🙁

  3. Top three tablet is quite a feat to reach. Really need to get my hands on one.

  4. Can I write reviews and get them posted! This is a user review right?

  5. When I used it, it gave a feeling that it can take so much, can develop softwares for it like Adobe Photoshop, at an extent if USB limited to connect USB devices it can also burn CDs or printers 😀 , etc and it really doesnt need a hardware upgrade atleast for more 2 years (unless WiMax,etc).
    Its a great OS. I feel iPad always been carried by apps, apps and apps. iOS is great OS too. Its really a great competitor to the iPad

  6. Very Nice David, great stuff

  7. I would say it is decent review. It would have been better, if the author went in iPad2 Vs playbook and showed why he came to the conclusion that this is the second best tablet. So far the only things this does not have:
    1. Native PIM
    2. Lack of apps
    3. screen size (author’s personal preference)

    It would appear that these are enough to outweigh all the other things that are better about the playbook and push it into second place.

    Don’t get me wrong I have no personal opinion (at least until tomorrow) but the article could have been so much better.

    • I agree. Hell, I wrote it. In time we will have a lot more comparisons and in depth reviews. For now though, I thought it was important to get some first impressions out the door after a few days.

      • One more thing, the Playbook isn’t even available yet. In my view it started in last place. Coming up to second place is a compliment and a laudable feat in its own right.

    • 1. I don’t see this as being a problem on a wifi only device. On the 3G? Absolutely. But let’s remember that PIM is simply going to be an app that will be installed at a later date. The physical Playbook doesn’t make it so it cannot be done. They just didn’t get it ready on time for launch. We can still fault them for not planning that properly. Call it a PR fail.

      2. The apps. Yes well, thankfully, Android didn’t think that way. The point is that any new device has to experience growth. Essentially, in that mindset, not single company should create a NEW tablet OS.

      3. That IS a preference thing. I prefer having a smaller screen (what is it? 7 instead of 9.3?) that I can have with me everywhere as opposed to a larger one that I can’t. There’s pros and cons on this one and it really DOES come down to how you decide to use it. If they decided to go bigger, they’d lose the demographic that loved it because it was smaller.

      Syncing with my BB via Bridge? Amazing. True multitasking OS? Yes. PERFECT web? Absolutely. HDMI out.. stronger OS potential, future support for Android apps… all these things.. to me, make it a better device (for me).

      We can’t do comparisons fairly when we have feature bias’s.

      IE: The competition cannot be Playbook’s “Cons” verses iPad2’s “Pros”.

  8. I was surprised by some of the omissions in early reviews. Knowing that I can access the SD card on my Blackberry phone is HUGE. Being able to access the Playbook’s file system over WiFi is a dream come true. Yes, the software may still have some kinks. Apple didn’t get that much grief from the media for it’s lack of Cut and Paste. RIM is apparently held to a higher standard – not that it’s a bad thing.

    • Hi @BarracudaBob,

      Douglas from RIM here. Glad to hear you like those features; they’re just a couple of the ways we’re looking to bolster the workplace PlayBook user experience. You also have remote PC and secure VPN access, letting you access your enterprise data and applications, and edit documents while you’re on-the-go, just like you would with a laptop, but in a 7-inch package that’s 0.4 inches thin, enabling one-handed operation and even ‘thumb-typing’ like you would on a BlackBerry smartphone.

      This video does a good job of showing other cool PlayBook features in action (

      Douglas, RIM Social Media Team

  9. A reviewer’s job is to try and be as complete and through as possible is covering a product. When the Ipad was originally released, many reviews were dinging it for being a “big Ipod touch.” However, Apple’s products delight many despite their limitations. I am very much looking forward to the Playbook. We’ll see how much it delights real users day after day. This will be the real test.

  10. let the playbook be !

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