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First Impressions: RIM BlackBerry PlayBook Not Ready For Prime Time

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

First Impressions: RIM BlackBerry PlayBook Not Ready For Prime Time
By Vernon Chan

Research in Motion's (RIM) PlayBook promises so much. Sexiness, speed, chic. As witnessed during a recent media preview, the PlayBook certainly entices, at least hardware-wise. Hardware - Solid effort, Impressive Specs
Powered by a dual-core 1Ghz processor with a generous 1GB RAM, the PlayBook boasts symmetrical multi-processing, something not seen in other tablets thus far. The highly-responsive 7" multi-touch capacitative display supports 1024 x 600 screen resolution. Colours are bright and text crisp. Connectivity-wise, the PlayBook comes with WIFI (a/b/g/n) and Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR with LTE/WIMAX/HSPA options over various models. The PlayBook offers 'best-in-class' media and RIM makes no secret about this - dual cameras supporting still and video capture - 5MP HD at the rear and class-leading 3MP HD front-facing. Nice. May be slightly optimistic with its multitasking prowess. Design & Aesthetics - Sexy Chic
At first glance, the PlayBook looks and feels smaller than expected. Visually it looks smaller than a Samsung Galaxy Tab and HTC Flyer. Overall, the build quality is excellent.

Performance - A Whole Lotta "Hmmmm..."Rim Blackberry Apps
While the PlayBook excels in every possible way in terms of hardware, the software side of things and how that translates to overall real world experience leaves much to be desired. QNX, the OS that powers the PlayBook is a robust, UNIX-like realtime operating system for embedded systems. Its true multitasking ability is pretty amazing to behold. Performance is responsive and snappy. Without a hardware button for 'Home' or 'Back' which we're accustomed to, users merely need to swipe the bezel to exit an application, or side swipe to bring up a dashboard of running applications. Pretty nifty though a slight learning curve for the unfamiliar. The cameras work well and captures are pretty good. Video playback is impressive, too. The WebKit-powered browser works well.

While RIM is quick to admit that the PlayBook software is still 'pre-release', some glaring exclusions and myriad errors left some frustrated. I encountered numerous errors while attempting to play media - both videos and audio on one of the test devices. The lack of a dedicated email, calendaring and contacts clients is a surprising exclusion. The only way to manage this is via BlackBerry Bridge - the app suite that allows your Bluetooth-tethered BlackBerry device to manage your Messages, Calendar, and BBM. No luck if you're NOT a BlackBerry phone user. Hmmmm.Rim Blackberry Apps

I fired up the native game Need For Speed Underground. Boo. Different test devices with different levels of experience. Hmmmm.Rim Blackberry Apps

Whilst Android and iOS enjoy tens of thousands of apps, BlackBerry has a mere few hundred. Yes, BlackBerry will support Android apps via a runtime environment and this satisfies certain camps, but strategy remains muddied and execution untested. Hmmmm...
Rim Blackberry Apps

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