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The BlackBerry PlayBook Experience

Nestled in an out-of-the way storefront in Chelsea stands – for two weeks – what was intended to be a mecca for New York technology fans. The northeast corner of 10th Avenue and 15th Street, in an area more known for its art enthusiasts than its digital diehards, has been housing the BlackBerry PlayBook Experience Center since July 10 and will continue to do so until the 23rd. And if you’re interested in seeing what, exactly, the PlayBook has to offer, there’s no better place for you to go and find out.

Perhaps in recognition of the neighborhood in which it stands, the PlayBook Experience Center has things to offer other than simply tablet education. As the schedule of events indicates, the Experience Center is a place to experience more than just the PlayBook – various insiders from music, yoga, fashion and other industries have been (and will be) making their way down to the PlayBook Experienence Center over the two weeks to showcase their skills. (And perhaps more importantly to some of the attendees, when I was there there were also free alcoholic beverages given to those who came into the Experience Center.)

But the real star of the show was the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet. Though diminutive in size (it has a 7″ LCD display, much less than the iPad’s 9.7″), the PlayBook has significant power which the BlackBerry techies were more than happy to show off to all the drop-ins. The nice-sized room had around 15 PlayBooks sitting there available for sampling. In an attempt to figure out what really makes the PlayBook noteworthy, I spoke to a few of the BlackBerry attendants to try to get different opinions on what features make their product truly shine.

Based on the aggregate comments that I heard from the BlackBerry folks, it seems that – like their smartphones – their tablet is ideally designed for the business-oriented (i.e. that the product is a tool, not a toy). Some of the better features that they said their device had were the ability to utilize “Docs to Go” as well as a feature called “Print to Go”  (which lets you “print” things from a computer to the PlayBook). One of the other features mentioned by numerous BB employees was the ability to use a BlackBerry phone as a remote control for the PlayBook (the phone and PlayBook being connected by Bluetooth). Under certain circumstances, like when the PlayBook is hooked up to a larger display screen, this could be really useful. One of the techies demonstrated this for me and it looked pretty awesome. (Though there seemed to be a real focus on the “useful” features of the PlayBook, the employees were also clear in pointing out the gaming and e-reading capabilities of their device.)The crowd inside the Experience Center was not too large to navigate – it looked like there were around 65 people there (including employees). But the crowd, I was told, fluctuated somewhat based on the other attractions there on any given day, and on a few occasions the Experience Center closed well later than its 7:00 scheduled closing time on account of the energetic atmosphere.

In one corner of the Experience Center they were selling BlackBerry merchandise. There was also a promotion giving away free accessories to people who purchased PlayBooks there. (The deal sounded good, but I didn’t investigate too much – I was focused more on features than on freebies.)

All told, the BlackBerry PlayBook Experience Center seemed like a hit. Its primary purpose, as a place for potential customers to learn about the Playbook tablet, was certainly accomplished. In addition, they also managed to raise the total number of entrants by branching out and featuring DJs, authors and the ever-alluring alcohol. Though Chelsea is hardly the world of high tech, for two weeks one storefront on the corner of 10th and 15th does its best to right that wrong.

9 total comments on this postSubmit your comment!
  1. why on earth would they showcase a 12-15month old tablet in a world of retina iPads and XX core Nexus tablets? At least a 1.5Ghz LTE playbook for god’s sake….

    unfortunately there is something profoundly wrong with this company, something I just cant explain.

    • Your comment FAIL…
      It’s more than just who has the best specs, it’s about functionality… NUFF SAID!

    • BTW, Apple had to do something with their iPad 2 display. It was hopelessly falling behind the competition. Even the PlayBook had a much better ppi than the iPad 2. With the retina display, the iPad finally surpassed the PlayBook for display quality, however, the PlayBook still has 1080p video capture and playback plus HD cameras at both front and rear.

      The Nexus 7 tablet isn’t that great. You only have 8 or 16 GB models. That’s barely enough for apps, let alone video, music or documents. It only has one (1) camera at 1.2 MP! Compare that with the PlayBook: 3MP front, 5MP rear. Sure it has the Google logo on it and it runs Jelly Bean, but I won’t buy a tablet with only 16 GB RAM. Google is perhaps counting on everyone using their cloud-based services, but with WiFi only, it just doesn’t work — maybe with 3G/4G. For the same price, you can get the well engineered PlayBook with 64 GB RAM! For me, it’s a no-brainer.

  2. The new Ipad has only minimal improvements, the PlayBook is still relevant.

  3. RIM needs to re-launch with a new tab, a 4G model and another software update followed by an ad campain.

    Might be too much to ask but that’s what they need.

  4. soooo … how much does RIM pay you to produce crap like this?

  5. The current PlayBook is still a winner, especially at its current price. However, the experience would be much better if the 4G PlayBook would be officially announced and available for purchase!!

    I believe RIM has decided they can’t afford to have folks working on PlayBook OS. I have OS 2.1 beta installed and I see no push to get it official. Even the 4G PlayBook is still rumored to be still at 2.0.1 :(

    I also believe that with current PlayBook pricing, the 4G PlayBook cannot be marketed at those low prices with upgraded hardware (1.5 GHz dual core, 2 GB RAM, etc). Perhaps this is a reason for the delay?

  6. I should add that I really like OS 2.1! It’s very stable and has a lot better Android support. I can run multiple Android apps at once and switch between them. Android apps run seamlessly like native apps. They also appear to be more stable too. OS 2.1 also has some other nice features too like portrait orientation for email, calendar, contacts and improved Bridge functionality for SMS/MMS.

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