So a week ago I decided to pick up BlackBerry's first tablet, the PlayBook. I opted for the 16gig seeing I don't have the need for the extra space in the 32 or 64gig models. I purchased it at Future Shop where the employee checking me out said there was a fair amount sold during the day.
So now having a good full week to play with the device, I figured I'd write some sort of review with my findings, likes and dislikes. This is my first review of a product, so be nice :P
Just to recap, I'll go over the device specs and a few pictures:
• 7” LCD, 1024 x 600, WSVGA, capacitive touch screen with full multi-touch and gesture support
• BlackBerry Tablet OS (QNX) with support for symmetric multiprocessing
• 1 GHz dual-core processor
• 1 GB RAM
• Integrated POWERVR SGX540 graphics accelerator drives 3D gaming and 3D user interfaces
• Dual HD cameras (3 MP front facing, 5 MP rear facing), supports 1080p HD video recording
• Video playback: 1080p HD Video, H.264, MPEG, DivX, WMV
• Audio playback: MP3, AAC, WMA
• HDMI video output
• Wi-Fi - 802.11 a/b/g/n
• Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
• Connectors: microHDMI, microUSB, charging contacts
• Open, flexible application platform with support for WebKit/HTML-5, Adobe Flash Player 10.1, Adobe Mobile AIR, Adobe Reader, POSIX, OpenGL, Java
• Measures 5.1”x7.6”x0.4” (130mm x 193mm x 10mm)
• Weighs less than a pound (approximately 0.9 lb or 400g)
• 5300mAh battery
The PlayBook comes with a 1024x600 resolution on a 7-inch display which translates to approx 170ppi (Pixels Per Inch). This allows it to deliver an extremely clear picture and have no problem displaying smaller fonts clearly.
The screen, instead of 4:3 is 16:9 HD aspect ratio. In my opinion, this is a great move for getting into the digital media since movies and videos have pretty much adopted the 16:9 ratio (yes, there's also the 2.35:1 and so on, but still wide screen). This however can hinder the browser since you only have 600px in landscape, which means a fair amount of scrolling. Once the keyboard is brought up, you've cut that in half. See pictures below of digital media and browsing.
The PlayBook didn't skimp out on cheap cameras like a recently released tablet. It comes with a 3MP front facing camera and a 5MP camera on the back. Each are capable of recording 1080p video and taking some decent shots (even with my crazy nub skillz at shooting pictures). The form factor isn't huge so you can hold in one hand to take the photo. The camera does get grainy in the low light, but that is expected since there's no flash.
The PlayBook comes with the standard PTZ (Pinch To Zoom) features. Double tap to zoom and auto align, etc. What's new though is the bezel gestures and how they are integrated into the OS and Apps.
When the device is in standby, simply start at the right or left bezel and swipe sideways, at least 50% of the screen to activate the PB.
To access all of the operating system features (About, Wifi, Updates, Bluetooth, etc) from the top bezel simply swipe down until you're on the screen. Just a quick flip of the finger.
There are other bezel gestures, but I figured the best way to show you, was to actually show you
I am however limited to the amount of pictures/video I can attach here, so I'll only give the links
Turn on the PB
Access the main settings/features on the PB
Exit from an app on the PB
Switching between apps #1
Switching between apps #2
Top bezel customization for each app loaded
Of course, RIM has included a full QWERTY keyboard with symbols and all. The nice part is they've finally included a .com button. I'd still like to see a keyboard that includes the .net and .org buttons though.
The only thing I've noticed is the lack of auto correct. What's up with that RIM? The teachers I had while growing up left it up to me to learn how to spell, I need this!
The keyboard can be set to Auto, QWERTY, QWERTZ or AZERTY
The PB comes with a dual core Texas Instruments OMAP4430 1Ghz processor. It allows for full 1080p recording, massive true
multi-tasking skills and the most important thing, easy on the battery. So far I've been playing movies, checking my emails, launching apps/games at the same time, not even the slightest hiccup. I can't wait until developers get a hold of this raw processing power for a mobile device.
Managing the device is 1GIG of RAM. Early, pre-release reviews were stated there seemed to be a memory management problem. I'm currently running build 1710 and going by my above statement + having multiple browser tabs open (I'm a tab *****, today Win7 couldn't give me tiles anymore in peak view, had to switch to words on a 22" monitor)...not once have I had an issue with RAM.
Currently, RIM provides everyone with either 16/32/64 gig models. Pretty much the standard these days. There is however no micro or SD slots and I was honestly quite surprised when I heard/saw this. Not a huge issue for me though. I'm an owner of a BB and once Bridge is fully useful (yea...) I'll be able to access up to another 32gig on my phone.
As stated at the start, I opted for the 16gig model, which means I get just under 14gig of free space after the OS installation.
Now, this is no doubt the bread and butter of the PlayBook. This browser is the unanimous winner of the tablet browsers. You have web standards, Flash 10.x, HTML5, tabbed browsing...no need for an app to view a website! Or get redirected to the 'mobile' site
I've been on YouTube, Revision3, eWeek, many other video sites playing HD video like it was nothing. It takes anywhere from 5-8 seconds for the initial buffer to fill and you're on your way.
Heavy flash sites like Formula1, gaming sites, heavy ad sites are a breeze.
The only setback, which seems for a lot of people, is a 7" screen. Yes, there is a fair amount of scrolling (as I've noticed between the PB and my Xoom). I mean, scrolling was perfectly fine on a 3-4" screen on a cell phone? Wasn't it? After all this IS a lightweight mobile device designed to fit in a pocket or purse...........not have to carry around with 2 hands at all times.
I'm getting the advertised 8-10 hours of battery life, pending what I'm doing. Of course if I'm running a movie, playing a game, taking 1080 video all at the same time, it's common sense the battery will drop faster than normal.
Right now I have 42% battery left and I did a charge Monday AM before I went to work. I've only used it to surf and watch a few online videos. Even this past Easter weekend with my cousin and I hammering down on my Xoom and PB, the PB would have no problem lasting throughout the day. The Xoom too
It's powered by a 5300mAh battery that can't be removed like the classic BB (which also means no battery pulls required!). I'm unsure how many cycles this battery will last but I can sleep at night cause I'm sure it will be a while.
Bridge and Tethering
Now, let me make this clear. The biggest piece of c*ap that was being fed by the media and Apple fanbois was the fact you NEEDED a BB in order to get you're email to work.
Not even close
What the BB Bridge allows you to do is access your BB information such as contacts, emails, documents, memopad, task, calender, etc. In no way shape or form do you need a BB to access Yahoo, Hotmail, Gmail, AOL because they ALL have native apps on the BB. Even then, you can use the browser to access a FULL featured service. Heck, use Outlook Anywhere sign on.
The biggest feature about RIM is their security. Once the BB is disconnected from Bluetooth there is not a single trace of emails, files, whatever left on the PlayBook. One less device the IT Sec or SysAdmin has to worry about.
Irony is going to kick me in the butt here. Bridge seems like it's unfinished. So far the only things that can be accessed is email, calander, memopad and tasks. There seems to be an issue with bridging files and viewing them (docs, pictures, etc). RIM has acknowledged this and will be providing an update (I'm assuming something will be mentioned at the upcoming BB World).
Tethering is also built into the PB. I can't say that it's 'fast' but come on, what mobile connection is fast? And by fast, I mean desktop fast. Anyway, the PB can tether to any
mobile device that supports Bluetooth via the dial up networking protocol. Once again, it does not
have to be a BlackBerry device. Just make sure your mobile provider won't be charging you, even though this is not the classic tethering.
Well, there is not the "65,000" apps available on the PlayBook like some other device. There is however a decent selection of apps for a new
platform. Just to list a few installed on my PB:
Docs to Go
Yahoo, Hotmail, Gmail, AOL mail
Facebook, Twitter (actually bring you to the web sites)
Adobe Connect (allows for video chat)
Blackjack, Air Hockey, Power Pong, Penguin Jump, Helico, Don't Stop Now, Doodle Blast, People on my Lawn
These were all free apps. I have not purchased any paid apps.
There are other companies currently working on apps, such as EA (already have NSF) and Atari for games. Amazon, Salesforce.com, Weather Channel, Time, Evernote, etc. are supposedly working on apps as well. I'm sure there are small companies too developing.
Support for Android and BB Smartphone apps is also currently in the works and can only be speculated that something will be told at BB World in a few days. Assuming this will be implemented soon, more apps sure seem to be on their way.
Being a BB fan, I might be a bit biased but I do think RIM has heading into the right direction with this. The have a brand new powerful platform that just may end up on smartphones in the future. They've seem to master the art of multi-tasking and provided a mobile device that is packed with power. Not to mention the excellent Flash support allows for a great web surfing experience.
Of course it has it's setbacks. Lacking the app department and the form factor of 7" doesn't seem to tickle some people's fancy. Some don't like the little power button either.
But hey, the even if you did read this review at least next time you're in Best Buy, Future Shop, wherever the PlayBook is sold...play with it and then the next week you're back there, play with it again (what you don't go to your local electronics place each weekend like me? lol). Just don't sit on the Internet and say it's poop if you haven't played with it, or played with it for a whole 1 minute.
Anything else you'd like to know about it, please feel free to ask.