Pros 1) Main interface is very clean and pleasing to use
2) Web browser is very easy to use
3) Dual speakers, sound quality is good
4) Top-notch build quality
5) Great display quality
6) Real Multitasking, very useful!
Good camera and video
Cons 1) ON/OFF switch could be better designed
2) Number of Apps available is smaller than Android or Apple
3) No native mail etc.
Summary Before I get started I would like to point out that I am already a Blackberry phone user for at least a year but I will try my best not to be bias in order to write a fair review,
I had already bought my second Blackberry smartphone (Bold 9900 - Excellent phone by the way) and so when Christmas came around the Playbook seemed like a natural companion for it, having read various reviews and watched plenty of youtube reviews I took the plunge. Upon unboxing I found the setup process to be very quick and easy, even a mandatory software update meant that overall it only took 15 minutes or so.
The main interface is very clean and pleasing to use, the numerous gestures are far more enjoyable than pressing buttons, the true multi tasking is a joy to use after years stuck with apples so called 'multitasking' which is in fact just pausing apps. In true Blackberry style there has been a few, very small glitches, like notifications not going away and getting stuck and icons disappearing, nothing a reboot can't fix.
The physical appearance of the device is again very pleasing and the matte finish on the back is extremely grippy so it feels stable in your hands, also having the camera in the middle means your fingers won't be able to smudge it like when you hold an iPad 2 in portrait. The ports are well set out along the bottom, my only gripe is the power/lock button on top, this is not as bad as other reviews make it out to be, but I often find myself pressing one of the volume buttons instead due to them being a lot larger in comparison. This is no big issue but still worth noting.
The web browser is very easy to use and the tab bar is a very welcome addition after using iOS's Safari, my only slight problem with it is when you use Blackberry bridge you get a second web browser, called 'Bridge Browser' this is the one you have to use when your not connected to a WiFi network. It means it has separate settings and bookmarks to the normal browser which can be annoying as you essentially have to fill in settings twice and bookmark pages on both browsers. Apart from that it is very quick, a real step up from the Blackberry smartphone web-kit browsers and the dual-core processor has no trouble loading flash content.
Bundled applications include Need For Speed: Undercover and the full Office to go suite, a nice touch from RIM. The app store is small but basic apps are there and with the promise of the android app store it should be greatly improved in the coming year.
So minus a Blackberry smartphone, you have a small, portable tablet which is quick enough to handle speedy web browsing and graphic intensive games. However when you do use the Bridge application with a Blackberry phone, the Playbook really comes into its own. Firstly you get the use of a whole new array of applications, emails, calendar, reminders, bridge browser, bbm and memos. After using a Blackberry phone with a tiny screen, the 7" Playbook really makes sending emails a joy and the way the calendar is setup is also very attractive. My phone and Playbook are nearly always connected, I have found this has a negligible affect on the battery life of both devices. There are clever features such as when you receive a call to your phone, it pops up on your Playbook to let you know.
Overall the Playbook is a fantastic tablet and certainly an iPad killer, the fluidity of the OS mixed with the solid design make it a joy to use. However the purpose of the Playbook was to entice non-Blackberry users to buy it, it seems RIM have done the exact opposite, with out a Blackberry phone I struggle to recommend this tablet over an iPad or any other tablet for that matter. But when you link it with a Blackberry phone it doubles it's capabilities. One way to think about it is as an extension to your Blackberry smartphone, a second, bigger screen if you like. It allows for the accelerometer powered games that just aren't possible on Blackberries and multi touch gestures. When you purchase some of the accessories like the official rapid charging stand, it really enhances your user experience.
So overall, if you own a Blackberry smartphone, buy this table, as the 16GB version is little over $200 it is very affordable and it will make your whole Blackberry experience doubly as good, just don't forget the accessories when you go to the checkout! If you don't own a Blackberry smartphone its hard to recommend the Playbook over the iPad 2 based on features, however when you look at prices, the base model Playbook is half the price of the cheapest iPad which in my opinion is very good value and it doesn't have a massive opportunity cost and is still worth seriously considering. But going back to my first point of this conclusion - If you own a fairly recent Blackberry smartphone, buy this tablet, its very affordable and added features will greatly improve the experience from the Playbook.
But, before you're will buy this Blackberry Playbook, I suggest you have to compare prices before you decide at: Prices-comparison.info/Blackberry-Playbook
Enjoy with your Playbook!
Pros True Multi-tasking instead of app pausing, full 1080p HD recording, 5MP in back and 3MP in front, the price point, and the new QNX tablet OS, fully touch-operational bezel, Android applications in summer '11, and Blackberry Bridge.
Cons No expandable memory, Wifi only.
Summary I was skeptical of the entire package before I was able to get my hands on it and learn about it in depth. This is the tablet to beat this year. Never mind the small package and picture-frame like design of this tablet. It all works toward why this will be the best on the market in 2 short weeks.
True Multi-tasking is something we have yet to see. Sure, we have application pausing on Android and iOS. But that's all they do. They pause the application state in the background until you are able to get back to it. This is able to run multiple (as many as you want) HD videos, songs, pictures, Flash based websites, etc. in the background without lag or pixelation. The multi-tasking works similarly to a Palm device with windows through which you can swipe back and forth.
Full 1080p recording is a dream and the tablet brings out the full colors of wherever you are. I viewed several recordings of a pro basketball game from courtside. Without the obvious stability stemming from the handling of the device, it looked like a clip from ESPN. The 5- and 3MP cameras are stunning. Again, they capture the true colors of everything they capture. We were able to video chat with the other Playbook at the other end of the room without issue.
The price point is huge for this device. It is competitive with the iPad at $499, $599, and $699 for the 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB models, respectively. This device has the capability to store and play anything you would want. Although make sure you get the correct size as memory expansion is not possible. But with the ample space available in the 32GB and 64GB versions, it should be enough for even the most hardcore media fanatic.
There is a lot to say about the QNX tablet OS that Blackberry is using for this device. It is meant for pure multi-tasking. It is meant to never crash, never slow down, and always keep going. Scenario: You're on your laptop working an excel spreadsheet, music, and a website in the background. Your music malfunctions and leaves you with a frozen laptop to the point where you have to reboot or wait forever for the OS to fix the issue. You're obviously not running a QNX OS. With QNX, it immediately identifies a risk to the integrity of the OS, shuts down the risk, and re-runs it in a more stable state until everything you need is running. It does this all while you are running everything else unimpeded in the background. They don't believe that one bad egg should ruin the carton. This OS is the same used in most vehicle navigation systems, at NASA, on the space shuttles, to run and monitor utility grids, and nuclear power plants, to name a few. QNX has been using multi-core processors for years and this is their bread and butter. This is serious business to tablet fans. Although it seems like a serious task to learn, it isn't and it is the most fun I've had with a device since the current generation touch screen.
The bezel is something completely unique to the Playbook. Similar to the rest of the touch screen, and to Palm devices with their navigation strip below the screen, the bezel is an integral part of this tablet. Swipe upward on the bottom of whatever orientation your using to activate the keyboard, swipe left or right on any side and scroll through whatever your doing. There are others that were not given demos, so I was told. This bezel is fully functional in applications, and specifically in the Android applications coming to the OS in the summer.
Now the part you may have been waiting for. The Android applications will be available sometime in summer (TBA). They hinted at June-July. Something needs to be clarified with this announcement as many people don't understand why this will be possible. Android and QNX OS use the same code as far as development and programming. This is why every app that is available for Android will be compatible for QNX. All you will need to do is download an approved, Blackberry provided patch (application player, as they called it) at the time of release to play the Android apps, which will be downloaded out of the Blackberry Appworld. The application player will be free.
The final main point of this device is the Blackberry Bridge which allows you to seamlessly integrate your contacts, e-mail, text messages, and BBM (among other things) from your Blackberry smartphone running OS 5.0 or higher to your QNX powered Playbook. You do this by linking each other via Bluetooth. It's that simple. Speaking of linking, being that this device is Wifi only, one can tether via USB, a dedicated mobile hotspot, or Bluetooth to any device which accepts connections via methods previously mentions.
With all the positive notes and few, but manageable negative notes, the Playbook will be the tablet to beat in 2011 and it will set a foundation for a line of products who could threaten Apple's iPad. No one can know at this time if the iPad will be ousted. Realistically? I doubt it. But that is not any other tablets' fault. It is the Apple fanboys (and girls) who have been stuck in the mud too many years. To the rest of you, give this a chance and you won't be disappointed.
Pros The QNX/Neutrino OS.
Cons I cannot say since I haven't used it.
Summary RIM did not create the OS for the playbook. It is running QNX Neutrino. An excellent embedded OS with years of deployment in several industries. I had the pleasure of developing applications for Neutrino about ten years ago. It was a great development environment with robust multitasking and robust multiprocessor support. Even device drivers run in user space, so badly behaved devices cannot crash the kernel.
Pros Perfect for Corp users
Cons No expandable memory
Summary I fully understand that the IPAD users will rip on any other tablet but the bottom line for a product to be good or bad is if it meets the users needs. Many people love their IPAD and they should. It is a very good product. There is also a very loarge group of users that have black berries- normally for work! Their work provides the Blackberry mail servers. This is the target market for Blackberry. I work for a very large corportation that supplies Blackberrries to a lot fo the employees, the Play book fits our needs and with work supporting it fully, this is the way to go for most of us. I also like the idea that I can use my work Black Berry's data plan and not have to have a data plan (con for IPAD and other tablets). As for the size, I carry enough stuff now.
For me, I have been waiting 6 months. Have mine on reserve. The intergration with work mail and other systems is what matters for me.
Pros Multitasking, 1080dpi, 7 inches, Webrowsing, Flash Support.
Cons On/Off pres boutton, No SD slot, Android based apps (They need devoloped native apps for Playbook and futures Blackberries Smartphones...)
Summary I don´t kow why everybody sees the 7 inches format something bad... (The Samsung Galaxy Pad have the same measure and it have selling 2 million of devices, that mean there is a market for 7 inch factor). I can´t wait for buy one of these rockets. I think that the first gen is awesome! I love my blackberry curve, cause it´s cheap (in Argentina, an iPhone cost four times more than a Blackberry) and I use a maximum of 30 apps that are very useful (for me, it´s stupid have 300000 apps, all foolish). The only negative thing I see in the Playbook is the lack of native e-mail, BBM o Calendar (Only trough a Blackberry) but I think that is something to fix in the next generation of Playbook. For me is simply amazing....