Blackberry has entered the tablet race pretty late, with the iPad 2 and Galaxy Tab already well settled in the global tablet market. Blackberry will have to offer a lot if they want to compete with the available choices. While it may not be able to compete on the level of it’s competitors just yet it does bring something new to the table.
Blackberry announced the “Playbook” tablet last year In September, The tablet became available to users on 19th April 2011 at a starting price of 499$. Unlike the iPad 2 and Galaxy Tab tablets, Blackberry Playbook uses a totally new OS, Supports a 7” wide display and offers more portability than other Tablet devices. Let’s check out the review to see what features RIM and Blackberry playbook have to offer.
The Blackberry Playbook is genuinely a slate tablet device featuring a slab like design. The device measures 7.6 x 5.1 x 0.4 inches (W/H/D) and weighs 0.9lbs(425g). The display behind the slab is a 1024x 600 WSVGA LCD Touch screen with the touch layer covering behind the glossy black bezels. The whole tablet is intended for touch screen usage with the only buttons existing is the power and volume control button along with a few other ports which offer limited connectivity. The edges are equipped with a rubber coating to prevent the device from slipping from your hands.
Connectivity ports include micro HDMI port, micro USB port, 3.5mm Headphone socket and a connector for charging the device using the bundled Playbook Docking station. Rather than including speakers on the side of the tablet, RIM has cut down edges in the front glass and fitted the speakers within the spaces. A front and rear facing camera are included with 3Megapixels for the front and 5Megapixels for the rear cam. The device offers crystal clear 1080P video output in MPEG4, WMV HDMI and H.264 formats.
Moving on the technical side, RIM has included a 1GHz OMAP4430 processor featuring true Multi tasking performance while graphics processing is handled by the Power VR SGX540 chipset and a total of 1GB ram is included in the device.
Storage options include 16,32,64 GB variants and MicroSD card support is not included. Wireless connectivity includes WiFi a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1+EDR however no integrated 3G and 4G connectivity is available. GPS, an accelerometer, 6-axis gyroscope and a digital compass are included.
Blackberry Playbook uses the QNX which is a UNIX based OS acquired by RIM last year. The OS is pretty common and used almost everywhere from Automobiles, Televisions and Navigation units. The OS is gesture based and features an experience unlike any other tablet device. Being based on a gesture controlled OS, You can easily swipe through different menus and tabs. The top displays the wireless connectivity icon, Battery and settings button. When swiped upwards a list of running apps is displayed, Cross on top of the tile of any app can close it. Clicking on top of the Apps show the batter usage information. A single Swipe from corners displays the status bar.
Although the OS runs smooth you will have to wait a while for developers to release apps for this, don’t expect to be playing Angry Birds for the QNX any time soon, if you are expecting a large selection of apps the size of the Android Marketplace / Apple Appstore you will definitely not find it in the PlayBook.
The keyboard is a little downside of the tablet, it’s easy to use but unlike the iPad features no dedicated number row and the punctuation keys only include comma and period. You have to open the Number/Symbol tab to view those. The Auto-Correction fails to address tiny grammatical mistakes.
The Multitasking of the device is way too different from iPad 2 and Galaxy Tab. On the iPad 2 , Multitasking is handled by allowing certain API’s to continue working while freezing others, The Galaxy Tab handles multitasking in real time allowing the device to use resources on a certain app while QNX does both, It gives users the ability to disable an app and killing them as well to provide optimal performance.
The GPU allows you to play a set of good looking games which can be connected via HDMi to an HDTV, Same goes for pictures and 1080P HD Video Content which the device plays with ease. Gaining access to native e-mail, calendar, contacts, tasks, and memos requires you to brigde a Backberry Phone with the device, without which you can’t gain access the basic functions of the tablet Surfing the net and using Flash on the built in browser was a good experience with gesture based control for easy switching of pages by swipe and controls such as pinch and zoom which one using tablets have become used to.
The good thing about the device is that it can hold enough battery power to keep the device running for a whole day on full usage playing 1080P video content and games all thanks to the 5300 mAH battery.
While the Playbook was meant for more professional use it has also proven well for commercial usage too, with a micro HDMI port, a Micro USB port, a good high resolution touch screen and super clear display along with an abundance of features including Wi-Fi and social networking support the Playbook can be your dream tablet, while it may fall short in certain categories against the iPad 2 and the Galaxy Tab (especially when it comes to the App store / App support)because of a new OS and certain features like SWYPE keyboard. So don’t expect to be playing Angry Birds on this anytime soon. But where it lacks in OS Support it makes up for in looks, design and features.
The Playbook may not be competing against the tablet titan that is the iPad 2 anytime soon especially since the Playbook and the iPad 2 are not on even on equal terms in terms of many qualities, but given time it will definitely prevail. RIM was able to make the Blackberry a success among businessmen across the world with the useful service of BBM (Blackberry Messenger) on many Blackberry smart phones. And with the Playbook RIM has given us a Micro USB port which helps make connecting the tablet with the computer easier rather than having a proprietary charging port as seen by the iPad 2 and Galaxy Tab. While the OS may not be as quick to grasp by the average user and requires more time to comprehend it is definitely well worth the time spent learning the ropes of the OS and finding all the great features of the OS on your own. With a superb CPU, 1GB of RAM and a spacious display making a decision between this and the iPad 2 can be a really tough decision.
Unless you are a real app addict and prefer a huge selection of free / paid apps available to your liking then the iPad 2 and the Galaxy Tab are the perfect choices for you, otherwise if you are looking for a good Hi-Def media device so you can enjoy 1080p videos and many other features of a tablet such as web browsing and social networking than the BlackBerry PlayBook is definitely worth a good thought for you. The OS may not be as user friendly as others but it isn’t impossible to learn either, you can master it in only a matter of a couple of hours or a day max.