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It's Coming Soon
on May 4, 2011
"It's coming soon" is a refrain you will hear quite often with respect to the BlackBerry Playbook. I have had my 32GB wifi model for about a week. (I bought it from Staples for less than you see here.) The physical tablet is four and half stars. It is a perfect size, the screen is beautiful and the weight is ideal. It is roughly the same size as a 3d generation Kindle. Half a star deduction for the top buttons which do not feel like they are very high quality.
Included in the box are some brief instructions, a folding blade charger, a micro-usb cable, a nice foam pouch case, and a screen wipe.
There are a few negatives: (1) a lot of websites think the browser is for a blackberry phone and auto-direct you to the mobile version of their website; (2) the browser does not allow you to rename bookmarks, reorder bookmarks, or put bookmarks into folders; (3) the GPS is not yet functional - it's in there, but has not been enabled by the firmware - this feature is "coming soon"; (4) there are two very high quality cameras, but the software is limited only only permitting you to chat with other PlayBook users; (5) there is no Kindle App.
When linked to your blackberry smartphone via bluetooth you get a mirror of the email, contacts, calendar, to do, BBM and memo pad found on your phone. You also get access to files on your blackberry (even the microSD), but cannot open video or audio files - just documents. There is something called the "bridge browser" which allows you to surf the internet through your phone's web browser and 3G connection. This is different from tethering because the carriers don't charge for it. The PlayBook also allows tethering which gives you full data access (although not to app world for some reason). Some carriers charge for tethering, some don't. Apparently AT&T doesn't even allow their customers to use the Bridge - which is a HUGE drawback if you happen to have AT&T.
The lack of apps is the largest drawback. As of this writing, there is no Kindle app (a huge drawback), no Skype app, no Netflix app, and no MLB app. You cannot watch Netflix videos on the browser or your MLB.tv subscription. You CAN watch amazon instant videos. They look beautiful. The app content is neither quality nor quantity.
There is a huge amount of potential, but unfortunately a lot of that is "coming soon" - and isn't there right now. When is "soon"? Nobody knows. One good thing is that firmware updates come out every few weeks and each adds functions. Since there are no carriers involved in rolling out firmware, RIM has full control and can do it quickly.
Some have mentioned problems with battery charging - I haven't had that. My battery charges pretty quickly and goes to 100%. I can use it for nearly 15 hours before I get a low battery warning with about 10% left. Some have complained about the power button being hard to push. Mine is small and recessed, but I can easily push it.
The screen is absolutely beautiful.
You can use your existing blackberry charger, but it will take much longer to charge. The included charger can charge your existing blackberry (micro USB) without harm. There is also an available quick-charging stand - it is expensive but works really well (I have it).
The BlackBerry PlayBook could be an amazing tablet - five stars. However, it is now a bit of a work in progress at this point and I can only give it three stars as it currently stands - It is only OK.