Review: BlackBerry PlayBook

By Branko Miletic

Canadians are a funny lot. When they are not rioting over a hockey game, they’re inventing some pretty useful comms gadgetry such as the BlackBerry smartphone. However, as they say in hockey, you are only as good as your last win and when it comes to Blackberry developer Research in Motion (RIM), trying to go head-to-head with Apple and its iPad has resulted in the PlayBook.

The PlayBook is a solid, reliable, and an adequate piece of tech. Unlike the Apple iPad, it can actually play Flash, it has HDMI Out, is sleek and stylish and it has all the look of corporate seriousness about it.

Under the 425 gm bonnet, there is a 1GHz, dual core processor running on 1Gb of RAM, pushing out all sorts of data on a 7-inch, 1080p HD screen. So far, so good. Add to that the 5-megapixel rear camera, 3-megapixel front one and you have the beginnings of a tech reviewer’s dream.

But sadly, it’s what it won’t do that is most important here. First, you need a BlackBerry account to use it, along with the BlackBerry Bridge function to access your emails. That’s not a death sentence, as after all, the PlayBook will be aimed at the suits of the world from what we can gather. And Apple do the same with their products.

What about Apps? Well, a better question would be “what apps?” It is quite obvious that the PlayBook has been rolled out only for their already existing customers. Now I’m not sure what the idea behind that is, but it’s strange from where I am sitting.

So what about battery life?  Well, there is a two-day window with which you can use your PlayBook before you have to recharge it – not bad, but nothing to write home about. RIM quotes 10-hours of use, which is up there with the iPad 2.

Editing documents? Yep, that you can do. Browsing? Sure- if you like Bing and, well, err, only Bing. Music? No iTunes but you can have something called 7Digital, which is less so iTunes but more so of the same cost wise from what I could see. And what about Twitter – you know, for those times you want to tweet a picture to the whole Solar System of you kissing your girlfriend in the middle of a hockey riot nope – I couldn’t get that to work, which, in all fairness could have been just me and not the PlayBook.

Did the I mention the Apps?—oh yes, that’s right, what Apps? Is RIM kidding us or have they taken the term ‘minimalist’ in a whole new direction? To be fair, they have promised that more apps will be rolling out over the next few months as developers start producing widgets for Blackberry product

The fact is that any mobile device these days is really only as good as its Apps. Sure, you need good, stable hardware with decent enough specs but these days having no Apps on your tablet device is like rolling out a really fast car that runs on orange juice – how on Earth are you supposed to fill it up? Apple’s iOS and the Android world know this only too well. Even Nokia has worked it out.

Pros: looks good, great screen, decent battery life, powerful processor.
Cons: only works to its full potential with a BlackBerry email account; App-free zone, lack of browser choices.

16GB $579
32GB $689
64GB $799

2.8 Out of 5 Shacks