Somebody said 7″s isn’t enough I say what matters is what you do with it right? Well I think RIM did an awesome job with the PlayBook and the form factor just feels right. Since I got the PlayBook I been carrying around and everyone that sees it wants to play with it. The BlackBerry PlayBook is a power house, handles multitasking with ease, and transition from one application is easy. Learning the swipe gestures takes little time, and navigating through apps is fun. I am not going to bore you covering each feature with a microscopic point of view but the basics, what it does best and where it can improve, and will.
Price: $499 for the 16GB, $599 for the 32GB, and $699 for the 64GB
I got the 16GB for review in which you will find the PlayBook inside a black carrying sleeve. The packaging design looks cool easy to unbox and the whole packaging is neatly put together. Give usually includes some sort of carrying accessory with their devices, and am glad they did too with the PlayBook. The packaging includes a micro USB .
Screen, Cameras and HDMI :
The screen and size is not too big not too small, you can watch videos while your in bed, relaxing or on the go. Watching movies or videos on 1080P is a nice experience, the screen is bright because of the resolution at 1024 * 600. Reading files on the screen and everything works really well without straining your eyes as you do on smaller screen. It has room to fit enough content or a full page from a book where you can read it just fine. There are some places where they can improve such as allowing the user to set text size.
The cameras are far better then most devices the competition has, some of the new android tablets do have better ones but the cameras are great, only down side there is no flash on it. The cameras take nice pictures, and you can also record good looking 1080p videos. Managing the cameras is really easy with the click of a button the user can switch from the front to the back camera. Some of the options are also available on video chat where you can simply switch to show what the PlayBook is looking at the front camera angle and on the back also.
HDMI – Note that the PlayBook uses a micro to HDMI cable to connect to a Tv or any other DHMI input. The PlayBook does not require proprietary cables like other companies, that make you spend extra. You can buy micro to HDMI cables on amazon for a really low price. This allows a user to easily do presentations or stream movies to a TV.
The specifications based on what is out there namely the top 2 in comparison the PlayBook has some really good specs and in some cases it beats the competitors, gives the best options for the size, and compatibility.
PlayBook Specs compared to the competition
|Platform||BB Tablet OS Powered By QNX||Android 3.0||iOS 4.3|
|Resolution||1024 * 600||1280 * 800||1024 * 768|
|Screen Size||7 Inc LCD||9.7 LED|
|Memory RAM||1 GB||1 GB||512 MB|
|Storage in GB||16/32/64||32||16/32/64|
|Processor||1 Ghz dual core / TI OMAP 4430||1 Dual Core Nvidia Tegra 2||1GHz dual core Apple A5|
|Cameras||5MP rear 1080P/ 3MP front||5MP rear 720 & 30P/ 2 MP front||Lower resolution 120/30P Rear/ VGA front|
|Connectivity||3G/ 4G / Wi-Fi/ Bridge with BlackBerry 3G browsing||3G with free pgrade to 4G LTE||Quadband HSPA or
CDMA / EV-DO Rev. A
|Bluetooth||2.1 + EDR||2.1 + EDR||2.1 + EDR|
|Weight||425G||725G||601 Wi-Fi 601 Verizon, 613 AT&T|
|Apps||Java, Android, Native, Adobe Air||Android||iOS|
|Flash/HTML 5||Yes/Yes Built in||Yes/Yes||No/Yes|
One thing that the PlayBook has been criticized for is the lack of apps at launch. But I find it kind of ridiculous to expect a bunch of apps for a Platform that is brand new. I say to those critics do you just expect them to materialize and poof you have hundreds of apps? Like other platforms they did not start out with a huge category of applications. They slowly built on as people started to adopt them. I am realistic and I don’t’ expect the PlayBook adoption from developers as fast as other Platforms but it has a huge potential.. It is already gaining traction after it has been out for a few weeks. Even the Xoom which launched with the latest android OS does not have as many apps available that are specifically made for it. With that said the PlayBook has a decent amount of apps already on app world. It’s inevitable that the PlayBook and other tablets will always have comparison to the iPad because after all it was the first successful tablet to hit the Market.
Developing & Apps:
Developers have a huge array of options for the BlackBerry PlayBook including the new updated Blackberry WebWorks, Adobe Air, Flash integration, Java, option to easily port android apps, and the Native SDK launching around mid summer. A developer was able to develop and port an app using QNX OS and a few other work around to create a native app. If you are a developer RIM seems to be headed in the right direction, giving almost all the developers out there an option to use their skills to develop awesome applications.
At launch the amount of application was limited but just within the first few weeks we have seen the amount of applications increase both in number and quality. RIM released Video chat, BBM, and an awesome Facebook app during BlackBerry World. The video chat offers a clear and fast way to connect with others and so far it seems even better than what Facetime offers. The applications at some point do feel limited but this is just the beginning. Yes RIM is pushing out stuff that need some options but the fact that they just work is good and it can just get better because they are opening API’s to 3rd party developers. The power of QNX has only began to show it’s potential and I believe once developers start to work it will just get better for everyone involved. If you are a developer check out the Q&A session video from BlackBerry World 2011 below.
The amount apps on Blackberry App world at launch had the critics just bashing it, how do they expect there to be thousand of applications at launch? Yes RIM could have done a better job in some areas like including refresh, app count, and providing more native apps at launch. I do commend them for creating such a nice UI, and how fast the OS feels with such a limited time they had to work with it. As far as app the most important ones such as native calendar, e-mail, address book were not there. They did show them at BlackBerry World you can see the video here. Now fast forward app world to present day and app world seems to steadily increase with new apps, maybe not the best quality but some are really well done. Some of my favorites, ReelPortal, GeeReader, Facebook, Poynt, Scrapbook, The big package, FourPlay, Wair, FaceWarp, and Feed Wheel. The quality apps are coming and they will get even better now that developers are able to test them on a real BlackBerry PlayBook instead of the simulator. So as far as apps go I wouldn’t worry they will steadily keep coming including native e-mail, and 3rd party apps.
The browser is fast maybe not as fast as other browsers but it is powerful. The initial launched browser has some glitches but RIM is constantly working on improving it. The latest released fixed quite a few bugs and improved the experience. NO other tablet has native flash, android devices do have flash but the experience is not as good and they have to download an app whereas the PlayBook is already integrated. If you do not have an app for certain websites the browser is probably the best app you could use, you have all the options a website gives you. Watching videos and streaming media works just as well as it would on a computer unless the content provider blocks it. There are still some limitations but overall one of the best experience. The browser allows downloading files, playing flash online games, editing blog posts. It brings the full web experience with both flash and HTML 5. Check out my video below while using the browser to stream media for various websites, I have tested YouTube, just.tv, history channel, CBS, NBC, MTV, Ustream and quite a few other sites they all work.
Native Docs & Adobe Reader:
RIM did us a great favor by including this applications on the device for free. You do not have the complete capabilities as you do on the PC/MAC applications but the ones of the PlayBook are by far the best ones available and they are FREE. Reading adobe files and switching pages on the PlayBook is a nice experience. Editing documents and spreadsheet files is not painful. Once you learn to navigate and what your limitations are doing some light work on them or reading reviewing, typing notes is really fast. Word documents comes with spell check. I was able to write a post on word on the plane on my way home, save and e-mail it to myself.
Usually I do not do much gaming but the games that the PlayBook has preloaded are awesome. While at BlackBerry World we had a chance to play Quake III on the PlayBook, the game was ported to the device in less than a week. The multi-touch experience on it is really good. The 3D graphics look good and that is just to show how powerful the QNX OS is on the PlayBook. Game developer will be able to easily port existing games or create new rich graphic games once the native SDK is released.
The Best Features: BlackBerry Bridge, Wireless Updates, and QNX – PlayBook is not stuck to the carriers will.
This is by far one of the best features in my opinion, and am sure most of you guys will agree. Some features like BBM where missing at launch but that has been fixed as I write this review. The recent update to the PlayBook OS, Bridge and BBM fixed most of the problems. Now BBM works pretty fast, and most of the issues with connecting/Pairing the devices have been taken care off. I should add that I have a 9800 unlocked using it on T-Mobile with BES and had not issues using BlackBerry Bridge but other people did have issues.
Why I think this is the best feature? It is because if you have a BlackBerry the bridge app allows you to view e-mails, calendar, Memopad, Tasks, Contacts on the PlayBook, as well as edit, delete, and send files. What I am REALLY happy about is what RIM did to get around the carriers and you don’t even need a pc to update the OS.
First is the Bridge App allows you to use the existing BlackBerry data plan to browse the net on your BlackBerry PlayBook when it is connected via bridge. The carriers can’t really block it as far as we know now. Does not mean they won’t monitor data usage increases AT&T already said they would. But until then if you have no Wi-Fi connection you can use the Bridge browser to do simple stuff not for media watching but for browsing reading news etc. The best part of this is that BlackBerry bridge will be open to 3rd party developers.
Steve Jobs calls the iPad the post PC computer but yet the first thing you need to do is connect it to iTunes. The PlayBook has wireless activation, updates even some carriers are able to push OS updates wirelessly. While we are on the carriers topic, the PlayBook is not stuck on the long wait we have with devices to receive an official update, RIM takes care of that on the PlayBook. This matter because I am hoping that once RIM has QNX powered smartphones this will carry over or at least that is what I am hoping for. The carriers currently take ages to push official updates to devices, and it seems RIM is getting tired of this. I hope that is not the case either for PlayBooks with 3G/4G where carriers have to give it their stamp of approval that would really make matters worse and it would be taking a step back on RIM”s side.
I cannot get tired of hearing this name, and it is because QNX is not an OS that has little limitations, and the versatility allows to implement future improvements to the PlayBook. The operating system has been around for ages and it is an OS that evolves as needed. It has powered so many critical devices around the world and because it is an RTOS software with multi kernels it allows for a wide variety of implementations.This means that they can easily implement new features and stay competitive without the limitations that RIM has faced on the current BlackBerry OS.
Multitasking, UI, Gestures
Multitasking on the PlayBook is a really easy and the PlayBook is the first one to introduce swiping on a bezel to control functions. It only takes a few tries before you get used to using swipe gestures to control the PlayBook. Opening and closing apps is really easy and intuitive. The UI design people just seem to fall in love with it, anywhere I take it people are drawn to it. This is a first for BlackBerry devices, because the BlackBerry OS is not the most appealing but this new tablet OS sure is. No other device out there in the competition can say they have multitasking superior to the Blackberry PlayBook it just simply works. The UI experience is great, as soon as you get a few minutes with it for the first time quickly seems to get the hang of it, or at least that is what I have seen from people new to it; Al though it may not be the case for everyone.
RIM has made available several OEM accessories at launch and quite a few manufacturers have them ready including OtterBox, and the AGF Ballistic Case. If you want OEM accessories for the PlayBook they can be bought over at www.ShopBlackBerry.com RIM has bundles that save you some money for two items instead of buying them separately. The prices for the accessories are quite steep and vary depending on the brand. You can also buy them over at amazon usually at a lower price for example this GTMax case I got for under $10.00 and feels great carrying around. Mobile devices are prone to accidents so you don’t want to find out the hard way what happens when you drop the device so I encourage buying a protective case. Check out this drop test videos.
CONS & Needed Improvements
Most of the stuff I talked about are pretty much covering most the PROS of the BlackBerry PlayBook. So here is the list of things that may seem as cons and things that RIM needs to improve.
Needs more sound notifications
Bluetooth device integration
Create new PPT files only supports viewing at the moment
Create folders to arrange apps right now it only allows you to drag and drop apps into the preset categories
Allow you to delete preloaded apps without pushing as if is a short OS update.
Integrate SMS into Bridge
Native E-mail, Calendar, and Contacts (We saw a preview of this already so they are coming)
Native BBM application for the PlayBook
Allow more editing within the video chat app and more profile options.
Auto correct/Spell check all around the OS
Allow the user to highlight and delete multiple e-mails on the PlayBook
Overall the BlackBerry PlayBook is a great device, powerful, mobile a media powerhouse. Most of the negativity it receive are things that OS updates have fixed and will add in the future is not about the hardware or the size. This makes the PlayBook more attractive because RIM can simply add new features without having to worry about limitations of what they can add to it. The PlayBook in some ways does feel it lack certain things but RIM has quickly pushed out updates to fix them. Neither of the previous competitors had a perfect tablet when they first launched and the PlayBook sure does a ton of things better than the others. Browsing, streaming media, video recording, video chat, and e-mail are superior to the other devices. The e-mail experience is just good and that is over the Bridge app and browser, when native apps land on the PlayBook it will be much better. Over the last two weeks I find myself using the PlayBook way more than I did when I tested other device even around the house. Usually I did not use other devices in the house because the computer does it much better but the PlayBook does not need the computer to activate or work, you can even transfer files over Wi-Fi.