on April 26, 2011
A bit about me first - I am a techno-nerd. I LOVE gadgets. Large, small, you name it. After eyeballing many tablets, including the iPad, Xoom, Samsung and others I chose the 64GB Blackberry Playbook. Why? For one, because it is the right size. I can put it in my purse and carry it about with me. More reasons - it has spectacular graphics - true 1080p HD and it supports flash. It has a camera and an HD camcorder. It has a solid feel in your hands, the touch screen is very responsive and intuitive. After playing with it for a short span of time I now zoom from app to app. One of the (many) things I find amazing is that the tablet does not lag while running many concurrent apps - I'm not talking small apps, but processor intensive ones. The battery life is pretty good too - I've played for over 10 hours before I had to recharge it. The screen is spectacular - I said that already didn't I?
One thing I have read on various sites is that there aren't "many apps" available. HELLO - it is new - just released actually. How many apps were there for the iPad when it first came out? New apps appear daily and this summer it will run Android apps. That just exponentially increased the quantity of fodder for app hounds like me. The Android apps will be available through Blackberry App World. Read more about this on Android Central. Angry Birds anyone? It's also a boss gaming tablet for you gamers out there.
I have a huge iTunes library. One of the reasons I purchased the 64GB version was for the music. RIM made it so easy to import tunes from iTunes. First download Desktop manager and install. Plug in the Playbook. It installs the drivers and voila! It sniffs the installed iTunes and asks you what you would like to sync to the Playbook. I also read a lot of technical magazines I get electronically. I have these saved off to a folder on my PC. Now I copy them to my Playbook and read them where ever I am.
I can connect to the internet a few ways - with the wireless ability it has, or tethering to my mobile phone or, if you have a Blackberry running version 5 or above you can use the Bridge to gain access to the internet while about. I have scratched just the surface of this amazing tablet. It has so much more I could talk about.
I love my Playbook. I am so glad I waited for its release. WOW
I've had the Playbook for over two months, use daily and have taken it with me everywhere I go. As such, I have more information and thoughts to share.
My Playbook recently traveled to Universal Studios and Disney's Magic Kingdom. Beautiful pictures and video were captured. I am a camera fiend - my Nikon D80 was left at home by an oversight and panic (withdrawal is more like it) set in. I must say that my Playbook saved the day. Would this completely replace my Nikon? For me, no. I am a lover of SLR/DSLR's. However it does a very nice job rendering photographs in a pinch. I shot beautiful 1080p video as well.
Apps - I have 183 apps so far on my Playbook and the choices available increases daily.
The browser is something to behold on this thing. It is fast, renders pages beautifully and the flash content looks incredible. As the Playbook supports flash, a great deal of things can be had directly via the browser without the requirement of an app.
RE: the noise about the 'too small' power button - non-issue really. You turn the Playbook on by swiping the screen from top to bottom. If the timeout is too long, you can alter this through the settings. About the only time you ever have to touch the button is to turn it on from a total power down. It's more an issue of a habit to use a button than anything else. Once you drop the button desire, the puny size is perfect.
RE: the noise regarding it wasn't ready - I've used my tablet daily for well over two months and I haven't encountered a single issue. No freezing, nothing at all. Ask me how many times I've had to reset my iPod or my PC/laptop?
RE: the noise regarding the immediate OS update - as a software engineer I appreciated the fact RIM had an update issued right after the tablet shipped. That means they fixed/added new features that the initial install didn't contain. This doesn't mean the OS wasn't ready - it was. They just were able to roll out an update soon after the release. How often is iTunes updated??? How often is Windows OS updated? Why is RIM bashed for a standard process? Ah, the Bizarro World we live in...
on May 7, 2011
I own the iPad 1. I like it. I don't love it. The apps are great. But it is large and cumbersome. It doesn't really multi-task. And I hate the way it handles email. I use a Blackberry Torch phone. I love the way it handles email. And the apps are very good. Fewer. But very good.
So it was with some trepidation and excitement I bought the Blackberry Playbook. The trepidation was because of the advanced reviews which universally panned it. I looked at it, held it, and bought it. And I will tell you it is one piece of stunning equipment.
The build is much better than the iPad. In fact it is extraordinary. The screen is absolutely stunning. The machine loads the applications fast but NOT as fast as you see on the commercials. The browser blows the iPad Safari browser out of the water. It is very fast and of course has Flash. The camera front and back are very good.
But do you know what makes this tablet? The OS. It is extraordinary. You bring out Apps with a touch. You scroll through open apps by beginning at the left or right bezel and swiping toward the center. The context menus are opened by swiping down when the application is open. See a subtle alert in the top left hand corner, swipe diagonally from the the bezel to the center and viola there is a notification of your email. To wake it up swipe from the top bezel to the bottom. No more clicking a darn button. Thank you Blackberry. That alone was genius.
As I said I carry a Blackberry so through the Blackberry Bridge it tethers to my Torch. Emails and files. Everything, except the apps (different OS of course) is available on my Playbook. And I don't have to add on a data plan for 3G. A 3G phone Playbook is coming out in the summer they say for those who do not carry Blackberry phones.
I am waiting for the following apps - Dropbox (although I can transfer files in and out via the web), a free hand note taker and a better PDF program or a more beefy Adobe Reader app. And I am sure they will come.
Now to the reviews: They claimed the OS was not finished. Not true. They claimed multiple shutdowns and freezes. Not true. They poo-poo'd tethering through Blackberry Bridge. OK I am saving myself $30 a month up here in Canada or $360 a year in not having a 3G capability under a separate plan. And the tethering is flawless for both email and web surfing since the Playbook comes with a Bridge Browser that uses your phones' plan. So a person saves $360 a year and it gets criticized? Unbelievable! The apps. Yes there are fewer but there are new ones appearing everyday and they are above average and to my mind are as good as or better than the iPad. The negative reviews are baffling; truly, truly baffling.
I couldn't wait to get the iPad. I was enchanted. With the new iPad 2 I wasn't enchanted. In fact it is anything but.
The Blackberry Playbook on the other hand is simply astounding. I throw it in my briefcase. And away I go. I pull it out at a meeting or airport and it is understated and private. Will it take its rightful place in the tablet market? Not if jingoistic reviewers have their way. But it should. It should if build, function, cost effectiveness, reliability, and fun mean anything to anybody.
"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.
on April 19, 2011
If you're like me - then you've probably been waiting for a while for RIM to enter the tablet market with their long-overdue BlackBerry Playbook. RIM's been touting a couple of features that were a first for any tablet at the time - namely two cameras, one front and one back, HD output and a mini-HDMI port, along with finally releasing the new QNX OS (which RIM badly needed).
Well, unfortunately for RIM, they once again took their time getting this to consumers, and the end result is once again a whole bunch of those new features aren't really new anymore. IPad 2 introduced the two camera system for Apple, and I believe the new Galaxy 2 tablet coming out in a few months will have it as well. A bunch of tablets are also now HD-capable, and a bunch also have HDMI ports.
Anywho - I picked this device up today from Best Buy, and to sum it up in a sentence: classy, but expensive.
For a more detailed review, here goes ---
1) The OS. By George, RIM finally has a decent OS!! If anyone has ever had or messed around with a Blackberry phone, one of the biggest gripes you'll have is that the OS is just... well, crappy. OS 5 and 6 were big improvements - but they still each leave alot out (like the browser - god, does Blackberry's browser suck at times), especially when you check out an IPhone or Android phone. The QNX is RIM's newest OS, and I hope they move their phones over to it ASAP. Clean, snappy, and doesn't actually use all that much memory - if you delve into the settings of the device. I will add, though - that as soon as I turned on my device, it had to update the OS. Nice RIM - already pushing out updates.... Doesn't bode well, but we'll see.
2) Screen. I'll give RIM credit, they did awesome here. The screen on the Playbook is nothing short of stellar. I played the movie Megamind (great movie) in HD on it, and it looked fantastic. Even better, hooked it up via HDMI to a projector, and it looked fantastic on the wall too. 7" may be a little small to people - IPad's is almost 10", and so is Galaxy 2 (supposedly - we'll see) - but I like the 7" screen personally. I don't really need a bigger screen - that's what I have a laptop for.
3) Weight. This also might be a touchy subject - but again, I personally like a device that feels solid in my hands. The Playbook definitely fits this bill. Although it only technically weighs 1 pound, it feels much heavier. The construction seems excellent - putting pressure on various points, the device barely bends.
4) Blackberry Bridge. Hell yeah RIM - I do NOT want to pay extra for another 3G data plan. Instead, what RIM does is by tethering your Blackberry phone to the Playbook, you can use the data plan on your phone to get the internet on your Playbook - and it works right out the box!! You don't even need a cable - it also works via BlueTooth!! Only problem - just works with Blackberry phones. If RIM updated this to work with all phones, that would make it literally perfect.
1) Price. Jeez, 499 for the base model - 16 GB. 64 GB rings in at 699. (These prices come from Best Buy). It's a nice device, don't get me wrong, but 500 bucks for the base model?? There's a bunch of cheaper options out there. Especially with the size of the device - it's a little hard to justify. I hope RIM fixes this problem soon, for their sake.
2) Apps. Always seems to come back to this as well for RIM. The apps for the device - at the time of this - equal less than 100. Yeah, that's right. With the new OS, that means that all apps have to be rewritten to be able to work with the device - and be able to handle the bigger screen. I believe the IPad has over 25,000 apps specifically made for it, and the Galaxy and XOOM both use Android - and have its market to work with. Clearly RIM has an uphill battle here. Hopefully RIM supporting Flash on the Playbook will help the apps roll in, but I wouldn't hold my breath...
3) No e-mail support. As of right now - the Playbook does not work with BES servers. That means no enterprise e-mail support, or ability to control the device via IT policies. You must be joking RIM. Seamless e-mail support is the main reason people get Blackberries, and you can't make the Playbook to support this?? Fail....
There's a couple other things too I can think of - for both categories - but these delve deeper into the enterprise features of the devices, so if you're interested, leave me a comment and I'll reply
The Blackberry Playbook is definitely a good entry for RIM - worthy of giving some of the other tablets a run for their money. RIM has of late been really lagging behind when it comes to keeping up with the tech of the day, but with the Playbook, they've finally stepped up to the plate. As for hitting a home run - ehhh, I've give them a double. The Playbook shines in a number of areas - but the key feature to me is the Blackberry Bridge. This is something that I hope a bunch of other tablets start incorporating - being able to use your phone's data plan on your tablet, without having to pay an extra 50 bucks for a separate one.
RIM, fix the weak spots on your device (either by updates or in the 2nd generation), and you could have a real winner here.
As far as recommendations go - for the average user, if you're feeling adventurous, go ahead and get a Playbook. It's a great device at what it does, but expanding those functions are difficult, especially with so few apps. For everyone else - stick with the IPad, XOOM, or Galaxy - at least until the apps get rolling on this device.
-- I'll update this periodically as more information and my usage time with it increases - so check back every so often --
UPDATE: Someone asked me in a comment if the Playbook had a memory card slot - which I forgot to include in my review. Unfortunately, the Playbook does NOT have an SD card slot - although, by using the Blackberry Bridge software, you can get the SD card that's on your phone to work with the Playbook. But as far as plugging in a card to the device itself - no. Thanks to J. Scheider for asking.
UPDATE (5/4/2011): RIM has announced that they'll be releasing the Video Chat app - a video conferencing app that will take advantage of the front and rear cameras, very much like Apple's FaceTime. It's supposed to be part of an OS upgrade that will get released sometime this week - I'll let you know how it is once I've tested it out.
on January 17, 2012
I'm no techie. I don't root or jailbreak but I do love my gadgets and tech. I am an Apple aficionado and have been using apple products since I wrote my thesis on my tiny 12" iBook way back in the G4 days. I use Mac Pro at work and at home, own MacBooks as well. (Shh, I also have a PC at home.)
When the iPad was introduced I jumped on it and purchased one for myself. When the iPad2 came out I opened up my wallet and purchased the top of the line 64 Gig 3G. Beautiful products. (I personally like how the first iPad looked and felt...the second felt more breakable.) The screen was amazing and the apps were just as brilliant. I wanted to love it. There was so much potential.
iPad2 was not exactly a quantum leap over the first. It was actually quite a disappointing purchase. The camera sucked the screen was just as good as the first the processor was marginally better on a day-to-day experience, graphics were great but if I wanted serious gaming I'd play on a platform designed for gameplay. Where did it excel? The "cool" apps you'd purchase for $5.99 and get tired of in a month? It was shiny and pretty but far too big to be truly a portable pad. I love it for quick presentation and 2-3 people meetings. I tried taking it with me on vacation a couple of times but it was just too big and heavy. So as good as it was it stayed home.
Enter the Playbook. I didn't like Blackberry nor most of its products. For the longest time they either looked too business suit with business emails or youth oriented for hammering text messages or "facebooking/tweeting". The Playbook came in at such a great price point that I needed to try it out. I've must have read every review before I finally purchased it. Hardware wise I give the edge to Playbook...cameras are even much better. Its an elegant machine with great lines. I really never really liked that "home" button on the iPhone and iPad. It always stood out for me and was usually the first thing to look worn out.
The operation on the PB is seamless and intuitive. Multitasking is well executed...but things like cutting and pasting lines and photos need work (perhaps with the new OS?). Alot of USEFUL apps were already INCLUDED. (Albeit buggy or missing a little bit of finesse/user friendliness.)
I find myself using my Playbook everyday: at home, on the commute to work and even at work! I haven't touched my iPads in months now. The playbook even has gone on vacation with me! Recently I even purchased a Blackberry Bold to pair with it. Brilliant! The iPad doesn't have this level of secure interconnectivity with the iPhone. As a result my iPhone4 and both my iPads are stuck in a drawer gathering dust. I'm thinking of just giving these to my parents because they really just seem like expensive toys.
What I wish the Playbook can do:
- Access BlackBerry phone microSD card. File types are restricted. I can use it as an external drive. I this would have been an amazing feature that would have just solidified Blackberry's phone and tablet sales.
- Have more apps - but I guess this is in the works. Access to the Android market is something I'm looking forward to with the next OS update (??WHEN??) Really need my Netflix and Skype! Some magazines?
- Access to phone - to make phone calls via the tablet through head phones. That way the Torch can stay in my bag when I have the tablet in hand.
- Ability to upload photos from my eye-fi or an SD card reader adapter. Even access to a portable external hard drive would be great.
I think its a better tablet than the iPad and iPad2 for my everyday use.
Hope that was someone helpful for those on the fence. Also you can't beat that price!
on June 24, 2011
OK. First off, it is a tablet with a fast dual core processor and 1GB of internal memory. So, its up to the task. The issue really is, what's the task?
I am a BlackBerry user and, truth be told, lover. However, I didn't get here by blind loyalty. I followed the advice of others and researched/used the products. So, I assume that's why you are reading this, both general user on the fence and RIM loyalist alike, for perspective.
The real deal is what can this tablet do right out of the box, independent of a BB device (AKA cell phone)? The answer is a lot but not as much as other tablets (specifically Apple or Android). The Playbook is poised to strike but lacks the refinement of options and applications enjoyed by other tablet types. For someone taking it out of the box and using it, they will find a smooth and effortless operating environment. All the menus flow and the graphics fly. No hesitation on most all switching of applications and functions. Screen orientation is fluid and not clunky. The Playbook gets a bad rap for lack of apps and, as i have mentioned, this is true. To be honest though, most people are surfing the web and checking email. The Playbook excels at these tasks with one large caveat, for email you need to use your e-mail provider web interface (mail.yahoo.com, gmail.com, aolmail.com...etc)or the mysterious "...BlackBerry Bridge." As of this posting, there is no email function native to the PlayBook nor is there an application for it.
If you don't own a Blackberry cell phone, don't plan to own one or don't ever use (or plan to use) the email function then wait for RIM to deliver the impending software update to the Playbook that will carry with it a native email application like you see on all other tablets. If you do own a BB cell and use the email function then the BlackBerry Bridge is for you. The BlackBerry Bridge is a native function that runs out of the box. The bridge function is awesome and it basically extends your phone features (mail, tasks, calendar, BBM and some file management) to your Playbook. What this really means is you admin your email and such through the Playbook via BlueTooth to your phone. This is good and bad. The good is you can hop on and generate emails, appts, tasks and xfer some files. The bad is it requires a good BT connection and both items relatively close together and charged to the point they can use the BT radio. The real solution for this is RIM should allow your Playbook, via a native app not a bridge, to use your BIS or (if company sanctioned) BES information. Plain and simple. They have to conquer the one PIN per account issue that currently requires you to bridge to the phone, the device that holds you PIN to the BIS or BES services. Is the bridge function enough to entice someone to buy a BB device along with a PlayBook or enable emailing on their current BB at a price to the provider? No. To finish the thought, they should include with native email all the PIM functions (tasks, calendar, notes...etc) that provide a fluid information chain that is accessible and completely sync'd with a BB device (or other smart phone through Google apps or something).
The web experience is excellent. Fast and uses Flash. Not much you cant do. It has its tablet downsides like sometimes you get an ad or some other in window pop up that just about requires a mouse...but that issue exists on all tablets.
Unless you're a news, movie or media junky, the applications (available via a native PB application called AppWorld) will most likely fail to impress you. The news, weather and media stuff is solid. The PB comes with the music store. The store isn't as extensive as iTunes of course but there are other services you can use (BestBuy just announced a cloud based music service for PB, iPad and Android). You can rent movies from Amazon and YouTube via web. No Netflix streaming app yet for PB. The good news on the app front is the supposed addition of Android applications that will run on the PB. This happens via a virtual machine (meaning its not native Android processing on the PB so it can't be as fast for sure) so it remains to be seen how good it will be. Angry Birds is coming as well.
The final deal is what do you want? If you want a smaller tablet then this is a good one...but if you want a smaller tablet with tons of apps then either go Android or wait for the supposed Android App player that will allow PB to run them. The real deal is this tablet surfs the web with the best of them and, lets be honest, most people want that. They hate a hot laptop and want something lighter, cooler, easier and with less of a footprint. Secondly they want apps that probably enhance what they can do on the web. so if its news, media or movies, you're good.
Some people have complained about the power and volume buttons. They are a bit of a pain but you get used to using them pretty quick. Something you shouldn't have to deal with but not a show stopper.
The PlayBook is expensive and does less than the iPad; unless you actively use your BB device. Android bridges the gap in price and physical options but is still clunky in app switching and fluidity of operating environment. Final word, the PlayBook is as fluid and dialed in as the iPad as far as use and operating environment but lacks the options, a gap partially bridged by use of an existing BB device enabled for email and internet use.
5 stars for BB users who aren't app junkies
3 stars for someone buying now without a BB and waiting for native email, Android Apps compatibility (and more native apps in the BlackBerry App World) and using your BlueTooth Headset (not possible as of this posting). The PlayBook is evolving leaps and bounds with every automatically delivered software update. But should someone pay top price for a comparatively lacking product now?
these are the things i do:
Watch rented movies on Amazon/YouTube (web, native)
RSS news (app)
News 360 (app)
BB Bridge Email, BBMessenger(native) -- must have BB device and email accounts configured
SSH to servers (if you don't understand this it's OK...its for techies) (app)
VNC to my home machine for admin use (app)
Video chat via ReelPortal (app)
Word, Excel doc editing (app)
File share to and from the PB on my home network (native)
Play "Need for Speed" (native) its fun :)
on November 26, 2011
First off I purchased the Playbook at Office Max during the Black Friday Sale. But before that I went through some craziness to try and buy the other Black Friday tablet deals. I'm sure you don't want to hear the whole thing but my first choice would have been the Asus Transformer, than the Toshiba Thrive, then the Playbook. The Acer Iconia A100 would have been my last choice (doesn't matter since that was sold out too). To be honest, the Amazon deal for the Toshiba Thrive (8gb) for $200 was an incredible deal but I bought my Playbook first and I'm happy with it. Here's why:
I initially wanted a 10 inch tablet for the screen size, bigger is better right? However after using it around the home and even in bed, the 7 inch tablet is a much more manageable size. Imagine laying down in bed and holding a 10 inch tablet out in front of you for extended period of time. Also the 7 inch tablet is just enough screen to enjoy videos and browse the web and the Playbook is a very capable devise with an excellent screen.
The Asus Transformer is a nice device however it's called a transformer because of the keyboard dock accessory. After that point, it's no longer a pure tablet, it's a netbook. I have a netbook and not in need of another one. Plus a netbook can be too cumbersome at times to carry around with you all the time. To me a netbook isn't that convenient to use, hence the reason why I wanted a tablet.
The Toshiba Thrive is also a great devise but it's kinda big and heavy. The reason why I wanted the Thrive is because of it's full size USB ports, SD card use and a regular HDMI port. However because of it's size, it is a decent netbook replacement. Having those USB ports would allow one to plug in a keyboard, mouse, external drive, etc. I believe that's one of the selling points for a Thrive but again not what I was looking for, which is portability and ease of use.
The Acer Iconia A100 is the right size for what I'm looking for however the reviews about short battery life and build quality steered me away. The style and build quality of a Playbook far exceeds those of an 7 inch Iconia. Go ahead and go to a store and hold them in your hand, you will know what I mean. Also the screen quality is better on the Playbook vs the Iconia. Actually I think the picture quality on the Playbook is awesome, about the same as the Asus Transformer's IPS screen, maybe better.
The Playbook's OS is different from what I'm use too, either Android or Windows, however it is very intuitive and really easy to pick up. I think RIM really shines in that sense. Also the browser for the Playbook was able to load any website I threw at it. Also because of the high screen quality, all websites are easy to read even with the 7 inch screen. I am very impressed with this little tablet. I am also able to tether it with my Android phone via wireless tether. (I've been reading that the Thrive is having some difficulty with tethering)
Another great thing about Playbook's OS is the multi task ability. It handles multiple open programs easily. Also the way the OS is set up, it's easy to manage your open programs so it doesn't clutter the devise. On the android devise, I would have to go to task manager to see what programs are still operating and then kill them. On the Playbook, it goes away with a swipe of the finger, literally.
I forgot to mentions the speakers, they work great. The speakers are front facing and are loud (for a tablet). Unlike the other tablets with speakers on the sides, you get better sound quality since they are facing the user.
BUT... this is not a perfect device.
The App Store for Blackberry tablet is abysmal. Maybe because I'm use to the Android market with a plethora of apps (more than I will ever need or want to know about) but the Blackberry App market is a joke. I understand that this is a fairly new device and can only hope for the best. Hopefully RIM will officially release the Android App player so that the Playbook can run Android Apps. This has been in the works for a couple months now.
No Netflix. I prefer to stream most of my content so the hard drive space of a tablet is not that important to me but since Netflix is not available, it's a bummer. I am able to get by with Amazon Prime, which works great, and Couchtuner.com. Hopefully when the Android Player gets implemented, Netflix can be ported.
No native email and calendar. For some of you this may be a deal breaker, not really for me but it would be nice to have. Again RIM announced a native email and calendar app for the Playbook in February 2012. I can wait. For now the Playbook has pre-installed web shortcuts to your Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, etc... This means no notifications of incoming mail.
I would rate this devise at a 3 1/2 to 3 3/4 stars.
The build quality, ease of use and simplicity is awesome. Right now the tablet can browse and play videos which is what I'm looking for. However it is hard to overlook the fact that the App Store barely exists and apps I'm used to having on my Android phone is not available.
I am very satisfied with my purchase and would highly recommend this product. If you are looking for a netbook replacement (keyboard and all), go with a 10 inch tablet. It's hard to do actually work on a 7 inch screen, no matter how great the OS or build quality.
If RIM delivers on the Android Player, native email/calendar apps with the upcoming OS update, this tablet would be a perfect 10/10. It's just not there right now.
on June 28, 2011
I bought the Playbook since it seemed to be a good fit for my use. I carry a BB Bold (AT&T service) for work and thought this would be my best option for productivity and as a useful 'toy' when traveling. I read the reviews and was slightly worried that it was too early to buy, but I went for it.
So far, after a week of use I am very pleased with the PB. Some of the issues mentioned in reviews here do exist but they are either minimal impact or can be worked around.
The size and weight are perfect for me. I added a leather case and find it the right size. It seems slightly heavier than I expected, but I think this makes it feel solid.
The touch screen and responsiveness of the OS is great, better than I expected from the reviews that called it sluggish. This is the first time I've used a touchscreen beyond demos at Apple, etc and I found it very easy to use.
The video quality is great, the demo videos and a few downloaded videos look great.
The collection of loaded apps and those available on the app store are pretty good for a device that just came out a few months ago. There is little I have looked for that is not available.
Bridging to my BB is wonderful. I read reviews that this was difficult to establish and that the links drop constantly and so far that is not true, expect for the initial loading which I describe below.
The bridge browser connects very well to my company's intranet and is already proving very useful. The BB browser was always hit or miss and extremely slow, so I rarely attempted to use it. The PB bridge browser works very well for looking up intranet websites. It also works perfectly for external websites when I am not connected to a wifi network.
The internet tethering is something I didn't expect. I must have missed the description of that as I was concentrating on the BB bridge connections. I had assumed that I could use my BB to access email, calendar, and the bridge browser but I thought I would be out of luck when using applications on the PB that use wifi when I was not in range of a wifi network. By tethering the PB to the internet through the BB (a separate connection setting than BB bridge) all of the applications work perfectly. This is a great feature since I have an unlimited domestic tethering feature on my corporate cell phone plan. If you don't have this feature, then it would incur additional fees, which is clearly stated when you set up the connection. I understand this may not be great for many people, but compared to a 3G version of competing tablets I think this is no worse and with the BB bridge option it is quite a bit better.
As mentioned in other reviews and on the BB support forums, AT&T does not `support' the BB bridge. If you attempt to load the software via the PB's barcode it will state that and leave you `unbridged.' It is not difficult to load the bridge software from links in the BB support websites, and once I loaded it manually on my BB the application worked perfectly. I expected a bit more work to get everything to synch up, but it worked on the first try.
The app store is not as extensive as other tablets seem, but there is a plan to add android apps this summer. There are also a large number of apps that are available for the BB that are not ready for the PB yet, but I imagine that will also come in time.
There is no support for Bluetooth audio at this time. I found this out by trying to pair a BT stereo headset and failing repeatedly. I found out on the support forums that this is a "known" lack of support. For me, this is a minor annoyance at best since there is a headset jack and I just used that for now. If you plan to link to BT speakers or stereo headsets this might be a reason to wait. Regular BT earpieces seem to pair fine but I typically pair mine to my phone so not sure what I would use the earpiece for on the PB.
Overall I am very happy with the Playbook, especially as I believe it is early in its lifecycle. I wouldn't recommend it to someone who does not have a BB, as that was one of the biggest draws for me, but if you do it is a great alternative to the other pads.
on February 28, 2012
I am very big on researching a product before I buy it, so I definitely wanted to make it a point to write a review on the PlayBook once I got some use out of it.
I am in LOVE with this thing. Ordering it from Amazon made it easier and I felt safer than with any other site, and I think that the price for the 32G PlayBook was cheaper on this site than on BlackBerry's site (which would still charge a good bit for shipping and handling; mine was free. And don't even get me started on the in-store prices that would tax the initial price, which will be close to twice what you'd find here, to kingdom come.).
While some might buy it for the game play, and others may use it for internet and media sharing, some may use it for social networking, others may want to hook up a cable and use it for professional presentations...Whatever your use, the PlayBook has it covered.
The initial setup WILL require, as stated on the outside of the box, a Wi-Fi connection to update the latest version of the OS (operating system). After that, the features already loaded onto it make it user friendly. It takes you through a tutorial of how to use the swipe feature to make shortcuts and navigate through the programs on the tablet; and don't let that overwhelm you, within 30 or so minutes, I was already getting the hang of it.
For all you BlackBerry Users out there, as soon as you have the chance to get into the app world, download BlackBerry Bridge. This nifty little app allows your smartphone and tablet to be connected via bluetooth. You can view files such as pictures, videos, documents, contacts, email that have already been sent to your phone - right from your PlayBook. BB Bridge also allows internet tethering, whether your phone works as a regular hot-spot or if you just want to use your phone's internet (**note, internet usage from internet tethering from your wireless phone must be done through "bridge browser" and regular wi-fi usage can be done from selecting a hot spot).
The cameras are great, they do well with a considerable amount of light and there is no built in flash, but I do believe the quality of the camera makes up for it. The layout is very clean and easy to use. The resolution on the screen is amazing. Youtube can easily be played (and an app comes pre-loaded) and looks great and isn't as laggy as it is on most phones.
For the gamers out there, I'm not sure how you would feel about a touch screen interface for gaming but it works fine for me. I am much more into puzzle games, but I did recently download (and become addicted to) a couple free action apps I found (Need for Speed, Asphalt Attack, and an FPS called Modern Combat 2: Black Pegasus) run smoothly, have great graphics, awesome sound effects and music, and didn't cost a dime. Whether you're in the middle of a shoot-out, drifting in a race, or battling in a daring game of Tetris, the tablet can still run smoothly while running several apps at a time and most will pause automatically when the window its in is minimized or toggled. Kobo for eBooks comes automatically on it. Free to start up an account, easy downloads, pretty good library of good books. I love this thing. I never leave home without it.
The only complaints I do have (though admittedly, I haven't been doing as much research for the PlayBook as I have been playing with it) would be that I have difficulty with getting pictures onto my PB from my phone. I know I could go through the process of going to my computer and hooking up the USB cable and doing it the manual way, but it could just be me and my device or devices, it would just be easier to be able to send them using Bluetooth to have without using BB Bridge. There is a video chat app, but it only works with other BB PlayBook users. I did do some research and there are a couple CrackBerry apps that will allow video chat with other PC users as long as they have the program installed. And this isn't a big deal for me, but it could be a deal breaker for some of you, there is no USB or MicroSD card slot on the device. I'm indifferent. I'd rather pick and choose what I wanted onto it from the computer or other device as opposed to having them all stored there. That's definitely subjective.
Overall though, the PlayBook is awesome and I love it. It serves many purposes, it's comfortably sized, some people may complain about the lack of apps because it's not that giant iThing (yes I know the name of it, it simply burns my eyes to see it) but do some research. I've seen some videos about being able to use the Android market in an app but I'm just trying to cover the basics here. AND whether you're extra careful, a little unlucky, or flat out clumsy like I am, and/or especially if you have children, please do make sure to get an Otterbox! AMAZING! It will protect the device and you won't be out of a few hundred bucks...and literally crying over spilled milk!
Sorry this is so long, but most of these are questions I had before I purchased that I had to go to several different sources to find out! Hope it helps!
on November 3, 2012
I have so many great things to say about this tablet that I scarcely know where to begin.
I don't take purchases like this lightly. Some people may not give a second thought to spending upwards of $400 on the latest tech toy, but I do. Even though I got my PlayBook for $200 from Office Depot, it's still a significant investment in my book.
Now - I am a fan of RIM, but I assure you I thoroughly researched all available tablets, I played with them in stores, I talked to tablet owners, etc. I am also an ex-professional IT nerd who still keeps up with things. I have also owned Android phones and an iPod Touch, hence I am very familiar with Android and iOS.
The technological argument: The PlayBook uses QNX. It's a true multi-thread operating system. Rather than try to give you a tech 101 lesson, I will say if you are tech inclined, just Google it and read for yourself.
As for Android, I don't like it. That surprised me because I am primarily a Linux user at home, leading me to believe that Android would be great. In short, Android is a huge data pig, with security holes and massive inefficiencies.
iOS may be a derivative of Mac OS which is Unix based... Which is better than Windows in my book, but iOS also leaves a lot to be desired, including lag, memory inefficiencies, and other things I'll cover in the user experience assessment.
The Hardware Argument: the PlayBook, like all RIM products, feels solid and dependable. The size is perfect, and balances nicely in your hand. The back has a nice silicone type coating making it just grippy enough to hang on to securely while not being obtrusive. I don't feel like I have to handle it with kidskin gloves for fear of damaging a glossy exterior. When I got my iPod Touch I immediately had to spend an extra $45 to get the Invisible Shield (a great product btw) so the shiny aluminium back and delicate screen wouldn't get destroyed, plus a silicone skin for some added impact protection. Be honest - how many iPhones have you seen with shattered screens? Exactly. If you look at an Apple product cross eyed, the damn thing breaks. All the Android tablets felt equally flimsy to me. As for the eReaders that are adding Web and video capabilities, I remind you that they are just that: an eReader. The additional features are disappointing underperformers.
The PlayBook screen quality is astounding. Everything on it, including video, looks better than my Desktop LCD monitor. Seriously.
The speakers are equally wonderful. They sound better than my sister's fancy-pants new laptop. Incidentally, I'm a musician... So yeah - that matters.
For connections, the HDMI port is (blessedly) separate, instead of the absurd proprietary single port that the iOS devices have. This means I can run video out from my PlayBook while charging if I need to. The USB input is nice too for us fast typists when the Bluetooth keyboards will lag.
It has a front and rear camera, I'll admit I haven't yet played with them.
User Experience: in an attempt to shorten this somewhat, I will say that the multi-tasking is seamless, the gestures are super intuitive, the full Web browsing experience WITH FLASH support is great. I have had zero issues with lag or freezing or anything of the sort. I especially appreciate the buttonless experience. I was admittedly sceptical, but it took me all of a few hours to get it down to second nature. I should also point out that the devices with the multi-function "home/exit/etc" button will, eventually fail, as my iOS device started doing recently.
I must highlight the Predictive Text - it is eerily accurate. I have written entire sentences by only entering the first few letters of a few of the words and had the rest suggested. It is also very nice to once again have the ability to edit my own custom dictionary, which iOS would inexplicably not let me do.
Battery life: I've been playing with this constantly for the last 5 hours and am at 60%. I have no complaints.
The Great App Debate:
Apple's App Store currently has over 700,000 apps.
Android Market claims... Well, no one seems to know, or I can't seem to find an official number anyway. We can say at least 400,000 though.
BlackBerry AppWorld: I'm hearing around 100,000.
Yep. That's a lot less. I don't know about you, but frankly I'm more interested in quality than quantity.
I can tell you, of the 119 Apps I have installed on my iPod Touch, I use 16 of them regularly; at least 5 of those are really just glorified Web links.
16. 16 Apps. I mean, come on people - how many Turkey Call Mimics or versions of solitaire do you need???
Yes, there are a few Apps I wish were on BB AppWorld, but it's nothing I can't accomplish via the web browser.
Finally, to address some misconceptions and unfair criticisms:
Complaints that there is no Expandable SD Memory card reader: well, the beloved iPad doesn't have one either. I can't see using up my entire 64 GB PlayBook, but even so I can access Cloud storage all the same.
Complaints that there (was not at first) a cellular capable model: well, if y'all really like paying extra money for a superfluous wireless plan, you got it. The 4G/Wifi model is rolling out now. May I also point out that the iPad Wifi only model far outsells the cellular model.
You do NOT need to have a BlackBerry phone for Internet Tethering. Any mobile capable of tethering will work. Apparently depending on your carrier you may get extra Tethering charges, but that varies.
Bonus: RIM assures us that BlackBerry 10 OS will be available for the PlayBook.
At the end of the day, I bought the PlayBook to get real work done on the go, without lugging around a big old laptop. The PlayBook is delivering in spades.
I had high hopes and was so afraid I would be let down. I have not been let down yet.
********** Update: I have now tested the cameras and microphone and I am really pleased.
The camera takes really nice photos, plus it has a really cool stabilisation feature. I do wish it had an LED flash but I guess you can't have it all. Also, my Dad is getting a PlayBook now so we can video chat, which will be really nice.
The microphone is awesome. I need it primarily for recording workshops, and audio at rehearsals. I tested it first by having my husband speak while I deliberately left the television on to see how it would handle competing background noise. The resulting audio was clear and I didn't have to strain to separate the speech from the background noise.
I then did some quick instrumental recording and that sounded great as well. I wouldn't be recording an album with it or anything but it was near demo quality. I am very impressed