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RIM

April 23, 2011
 

REVIEW: RIM BlackBerry PlayBook

At less than a half-inch thick and weighing just under a pound, the RIM Blackberry PlayBook boasts a 1GHz dual-core processor and a QNX-based BlackBerry Tablet OS that prides itself on its ability to multitask. Throw in dual HD cameras (three mega-pixel front, five mega-pixel back), and the ability for high-resolution playback and 1080p HDMI output, and there’s a lot to like about this device.

The new OS shines in many respects, effortlessly running multiple applications, and will allow for VM processes for future Android app ports. But it is not nearly as intuitive as the iOS or Android systems, forcing users to become well versed in a language of swipes and gestures to navigate through the interface. A background in QNX, an always-on, always-powered OS, makes the device very media savvy but also raises significant questions about battery life; at a little more than seven hours of life per charge, the PlayBook is decidedly middle-of-the-road.

With its seven-inch screen, the PlayBook is nearly half the size of the iPad and will outperform all competition in the smaller class, including the Motorola Xoom and Samsung Galaxy Tab. So if portability is paramount, you’d be hard pressed to find a better option.

The biggest draw of the tablet, however, may be its fully-featured WebKit browser with native Flash support. Whether it video, gaming or animation, this device can provide a more desktop-like Web experience than the bulk of its competitors. But getting at that treasure trove of Flash goodies conveniently may be something a problem.

At present, the PlayBook only comes with wi-fi connectivity, which hamstrings the impact of the browser a bit. A 4G-compatibile model is coming to the Sprint network this summer, and RIM has plans for future models tailored to Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile networks but, for the time being, faces substantial hurdles with these other carriers.

RIM BlackBerry PlayBook

RIM BlackBerry PlayBook

Verizon claims to still be evaluating the PlayBook and may or may not choose to carry it. In RIM’s favor, even though there appears to be no set timetable for Verizon’s approval process, it’s hard to imagine they won’t find a way to grab a piece of the network at some point.

AT&T has placed a much bigger stumbling block in RIM’s way, having yet to approve the BlackBerry Bridge tethering functionality. In order to access many of the tablet’s productivity features — E-mail, calendars, etc. — users have to link up with a separate BlackBerry device. Without the company’s blessing, the PlayBook is somewhat useless out of the box for AT&T subscribers, not to mention a bit cumbersome in general for all users.

If initial sales figures are any indication of success, however, the PlayBook may have a bright future. Some outlets are reporting the device outsold its forecast rate, moving roughly 50,000 units on launch day and projecting to ship nearly 500,000 tablets by the end of May, which may indicate a stronger start than the Xoom and Galaxy Tab. Explosive interest in RIM’s device may force AT&T and Verizon to play nice and make the necessary concessions to get it on their respective rosters and clear up some of these lingering issues.

CONCLUSION

The PlayBook has the potential to be a media beast and may be a perfect fit for those users who are already wholeheartedly committed to BlackBerry. But for the rest, there are just too many support issues still left up in the air. There’s a lot of promise here, but until these issues get worked out, RIM will always fall short in its quest for the iPad killer.

PROS

  • Portability-Power Balance
  • Native Flash Support
  • 1080p Video Recording and Output

CONS

  • BlackBerry Bridge Tethering Requirements
  • Lack of Provider Support
  • Wi-Fi Limited

SPECS

  • 7″ 1024×600 WSVGA capacitive LCD touch screen
  • 0.9 lbs (425g)
  • 5.1″ x 7.6″ x 0.4″ (130mm x 194mm x 10mm)
  • 1 GHz dual-core processor
  • BlackBerry® Tablet OS
  • MP3, AAC and WMA audio playback
  • Support for high-resolution video playback (H.264, MPEG4, WMV)
  • 1080p HDMI output
  • Dual 1080p HD cameras (3MP front and 5MP rear)
  • 1 GB RAM memory
  • Up to 64 GB internal storage (16, 32 and 64 GB models)
  • GPS, Orientation Sensor (Accelerometer), 6-Axis Motion Sensor (Gyroscope), Digital Compass (Magnetometer)
  • Stereo speakers and stereo microphones
  • Wi-Fi® (802.11 a/b/g/n) connectivity
  • Bluetooth 2.1+EDR support

 



About the Author

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Deal Alert

Deal Alert:RIM discounts PlayBook tablets for 299

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