We are here today to review the 16 GB BlackBerry PlayBook Tablet. The PlayBook is being marketed as the first professional grade tablet, but is it? After receiving the PlayBook and using it for a few days I say “absolutely.”
The BlackBerry PlayBook is Research in Motions entry device to the tablet market. With the PlayBook’s 7 inch, 1024×600 WSVGA touch screen (Full Multi touch capacitive and gesture support )and 1GHz dual core processor you can’t go wrong. At first glance the PlayBook is really designed well. The size (5.1 x 7.6), thickness (0.4in) and weight about 0.9 pounds, the back of the device has this rubberized feel to it. All and all this device fits perfectly in your hands without the fear of accidentally dropping it.
The BlackBerry PlayBook is not running the “standard” operating system from RIM. The OS on the PlayBook has been custom built by a company called QNX. QNX operating system manages nuclear power plants to the BlackBerry PlayBook and almost everything in between.
Here is what QNX had to say about the BlackBerry PlayBooks OS via their website:
Performance-proven in millions of mission-critical systems, the QNX® Neutrino® RTOS is the power beneath the BlackBerry® Tablet OS.
“The QNX Neutrino RTOS is known the world over for its performance and reliability. Proven in everything from the space station and the world’s highest capacity router to millions of in-car systems, it now brings its unique capabilities to the BlackBerry Playbook.
Space-grade reliability, game-changing performance: Designed from day one for bullet-proof reliability, the QNX Neutrino RTOS is solid enough for the space shuttle’s Laser Camera System, and fast and agile enough for the Playbook’s game-changing touch screen.
Multi-core, multimedia, 4G network connectivity: Multi-core capable since 1997, the QNX Neutrino RTOS has become the OS of choice for multimedia systems in the automotive market. It is the OS driving the LTE Connected CAR with its ultra-high bandwidth, always-on 4G network connectivity.
Standards-based, security and safety-certified: The QNX Neutrino RTOS is not just POSIX-like, but POSIX-certified. The IEC 61508 SIL3 functional safety-certified and ISO/IEC Evaluation Assurance Level 4+ security-certified editions of the QNX Neutrino RTOS kernel are ideal foundations for medical and other systems requiring certifications.
Learn more about the QNX Neutrino RTOS.”
Here is a list of applications that come preloaded on the PlayBook and what they do:
Web browser: Browsing the interwebs on the PlayBook brings new life to the web. The browser supports Adobe Flash whereas most devices do not. Visiting a website with flash is just like visiting it from your computer. Outstanding Job!
Camera: The PlayBook features Dual 1080p HD cameras (3 MP front facing, 5 MP rear facing) which take very impressive pictures and video. The cameras function very nice with the Video Chat application that comes standard on the device. Of course the video quality will also depend on your WiFi connection. Taking pictures with the front and rear facing cameras change the way you record your life. There is some room for improved quality with the camera resolution. The ability to add the location where the photo was taken using the built-in GPS works flawlessly. Add the ability to zoom in and back out before snapping a photo is great. In the camera application itself you will see some toggles for switching from the front camera to the rear camera and switching from still photos to recording video. All and all the camera function works great!
Pictures: The application itself is pretty basic. When opened you will see your albums, if you swipe down from the top you will reveal the camera icon that will take you back to the camera application. When in an album and you swipe down you will see the camera icon along with your albums and an edit icon. If you click on an image you are able to swipe back and forth to view your photos or watch a slide show. The pinch to zoom is super-fast and fluid. Once on a photo you want to set as wallpaper you then are able to swipe down and hit the “Set as Wallpaper” icon, it is just that easy.
Music: The music application is really basic. When you open it you will see the following icons: All Songs, Artist, Albums, Genres and Playlists.
Tetris: Tetris has been around for years and was developed in Moscow by Russian scientist Alexey Pajitnov in 1984. The application has great graphics and has been updated big time from the 1984 release. Tetris has with stood the test of time and is a great addition to the PlayBook.
Need For Speed Undercover: I was first hooked on NFS as a kid. When Need For Speed Undercover was release for the Sony Playstation 3 my son asked me to get it for him so I did. We have been playing it ever since its launch. When he found out that NFS was preloaded on the PlayBook he was jumping for joy. RIM made a very smart decision to par up with Electronic Arts (EA) to bring NFS to the PlayBook.
Videos: Videos on the PlayBook are phenomenal! With having the ability to connect your PlayBook to an HDMI input on your HD TV is another way the PlayBook belongs in your hands. The 1080p video play back out to your HD TV using the device as the controller is great!
Video Chat: This application is far superior to some of the other video chat options out there. I thought the video was going to be choppy and not worth my time boy was I ever wrong. I have used the application almost every day since I received my PlayBook. The only time it froze or became choppy was when I walked to far away from my wireless router.
Music Store: The music store by 7digital is fast and very responsive. When previewing a song it will play a 30 second preview into to the song you selected. You can buy albums and or individual tracks relatively cheap.
Podcasts: Podcast is one of my favorite applications on the PlayBook as well as my BlackBerry. When you open the app you will be on the “Featured” screen. At the top you will see Featured, Categories, Downloads, and My Podcasts. You have a wide verity of podcasts from Arts to Technology and everything in between. I really enjoy the High Definition Video podcasts.
YouTube: YouTube could use a better UI then just the plain black and white one it currently uses. From the application itself you can search for videos, browse featured, top rated, most viewed and recent videos.
Kobo Books: Kobo e-reader is great. When you open the application you are greeted with an abundance of book some free and some paid. It is just like any other e-reader with the exception that it is an app on the BlackBerry PlayBook which sets it apart from other e-readers.
Calculator: This application I thought was just another calculator app it’s not. The UI on the calculator is quite impressive and it makes for a fun user experience. To the left of the calculator you will see a tape of all of your calculations. When you hit clear the tape is then ripped off so you can start again. Calculator is a very useful app.
Bing Maps: With the Bing Maps application you can get direction, view traffic, and view businesses. I am a bit disappointed the RIM chose to go with Microsoft’s Bing Search instead of Google Maps. All in all the Bing Maps application does what it is there to do.
Help: The Help application is just that a way to help you with your BlackBerry PlayBook. It will help you with everything from Getting Started to Docs to Go.
Weather: Now the Weather application is powered by AccuWeather.com for all of the latest weather in your area. The app is very well organized with tons of information to keep you up to date with current weather conditions. One thing should be adjusted for instanced when you click on maps it takes you to AccuWeather.com that in my opinion should be built ion to the app itself.
Clock: The clock application has a very clean UI and could be adjusted to full screen instead of sharing the display with the stopwatch and timer. We would like to see the clock take up the full screen with the option to use the stopwatch and timer within the application itself.
App World: What do you say about BlackBerry App World that has not been said already? More applications would be a good start coupled with being able to use Android 2.1 applications would make the PlayBook more then the first professional grade tablet.
Voice Notes: Voice Notes is a very useful application whether your in a meeting with clients or on a plane making a to do list. The UI very cool looking with the large microphone recording your voice.
Gmail: The Gmail icon is more of a launcher then an application. When the icon is clicked it takes you to Gmail via the web browser.
Hotmail:The Hotmail icon is more of a launcher then an application. When the icon is clicked it takes you to Hotmail via the web browser.
Yahoo! Mail:The Yahoo icon is more of a launcher then an application. When the icon is clicked it takes you to Yahoo via the web browser.
AOL Mail:The AOL icon is more of a launcher then an application. When the icon is clicked it takes you to AOL via the web browser.
Twitter: The Twitter icon is more of a launcher then an application. When the icon is clicked it takes you to the Twitter web page via the browser.
Setup: Setup takes you back to where you started setting up your PlayBook. WiFi, Date and Time, BlackBerry Bridge, Tablet Basics, and Desktop Software are all there for you to adjust settings.
Power Off: The Power Off icon is just that. When the icon is clicked you will see Power Off and Restart.
Adobe Reader: Adobe Reader lets you view Adobe PDF documents.
Docs to Go: Docs to Go on the PlayBook Includes Word To Go, Sheet To Go, and Sideshow To Go. These applications are very similar to the Docs to Go application on your BlackBerry smartphone. You can create, edit, and save, Word, Excel, and Power Point documents.
Slacker Radio: Slacker Radio is an internet radio application and website that you can access right from your BlackBerry PlayBook. Slacker is the first internet radio application for the PlayBook and it is also available for your BlackBerry Smartphone.
BlackBerry Bridge is an application that you use to pair your BlackBerry smartphone to your PlayBook via bluetooth. When your BlackBerry is paired to your PlayBook you will have access to the following applications that are on your BlackBerry device: Messages, Contacts, Bridge Browser, Calendar, BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), Memo Pad, Tasks, Bridge Files.
Messages: Messages include all of your email accounts that are set up on your BlackBerry.
Contacts: Contacts gives you access to all of your available contacts on your Blackberry.
Bridge Browser: With the Bridge Browser you have full access to your BlackBerry browser, bookmarks and all.
Calendar: The Calendar allows you to view, add, edit your calendar on your BlackBerry through your PlayBook.
BlackBerry Messenger (BBM): BBM on the PlayBook is AWESOME to say the least. With this Bridge application all of your BBM contacts are pushed to the PlayBook. I did have a few issues with this Bridge app when first setting it up. With BBM you on your PlayBook you can carry on your conversations with any of your BBM contacts. You are not able to access Groups on BBM… We would love to see RIM incorporate BBM on the PlayBook with out BlackBerry Bridge as it does have a PIN.
Memo Pad: The Memo Pad allows you to view, add, edit any memo’s you have saved on your BlackBerry through the PlayBook.
Tasks: The Tasks application allows you to view, add, edit any Tasks you have saved on your BlackBerry through the PlayBook.
Bridge Files: The Bridge Files application helps you view and transfer files that are stored on your BlackBerry device and your PlayBook via bluetooth.
System Memory: 1GB RAM
Storage: 16 GB, 32 GB or 64 GB Flash
Supported Audio: MP3, AAC 5.1, WMA 5.1 audio playback
Wi-Fi: 802.11 a/b/g/n
Camera: Dual 1080p HD cameras (3 MP front facing, 5 MP rear facing), can capture HD video
Video: Support for high resolution video playback (H.264, MPEG4, WMV) (1080p HDMI output)
Bluetooth: 2.1 + EDR
Connectors: microHDMI (HDMI out), microUSB, charging contacts
Sensors: GPS, Orientation Sensor (Accelerometer), 6-Axis Motion Sensor (Gyroscope), Digital Compass (Magnetometer)
Audio Out: Stereo speakers and stereo microphones
Development platform: Open, flexible application platform with support for WebKit/HTML-5, Adobe Flash Player, Adobe Mobile AIR, Adobe Reader, POSIX, OpenGL, Java
The BlackBerry PlayBook tablet is a must have. We do think that RIM needs to make some changes to the software included on the PlayBook like MORE native apps! Other then native applications on the PlayBook the hardware is spot on very fast and responsive. Though the PlayBook may not be for everyone RIM is on the right track with this device. Everything about the device is almost perfect with a few adjustments RIM has a front runner look out Apple, RIM is on your heels!