Indeed the most satisfying part about the PlayBook’s QNX based platform is the fulfilling web browsing experience, and rightfully so, it delivers on so many levels to put most things out there to shame. Connected through a Wi-Fi hotspot, complex pages load quickly and render nearly identical to what you expect to see with a standalone desktop web browser. Even more impressive is the fact that you don’t need to wait for the entire page to load before being able to navigate through it; which is of course nice seeing that you can quickly get right into it from the moment the first picture or text load. Meanwhile, you can access some of the other core features of the web browser, like opening up a new tab or getting to your bookmarks, by simply performing a swipe down from the top bezel.
Boasting full Flash Player 10.1 support, this fully equipped WebKit browser is able to deliver an amazing experience seeing that it replicates the desktop experience to the teeth. In the face of even some heavy Flash web sites, the browser doesn’t slowdown or stutter with its operation – so you’ll continue to see some smooth kinetic scrolling and responsive pinch gestures. From embedded YouTube clips to Flash based ads, there’s nothing that this web browser can’t handle, and even more, the full fidelity experience is complemented by the platform’s strong multi-tasking prowess. However, it’s missing some goodies, like the ability to quickly share URLs. But with most things we see, we’ll cross our fingers and hope for now that future updates will increase its capacity.
BlackBerry App World:
Advertising that there would be approximately 3,000 apps available at launch, we’re not all that impressed with most of the offerings since it’s missing some key ones. Launching the App World app, we’re instantly greeted by some of the platform’s featured apps, both free and paid, and accompanied by some rather large and boxy looking icons. Furthermore, two other distinctive headings outline the general layout – these are Categories and My World.
Naturally, there’s an assortment of categories that break down apps to their specific case usage. Meanwhile, selecting a category will display all the relevant content associated with it – which can be further filtered by clicking on either the All, Paid, and Free buttons on the upper right corner of the interface. Finally, clicking on the My World heading on the main screen will load all the apps downloaded and installed on the PlayBook.
As we quickly downloaded a few apps, the first thing to come to mind is their general lack of functionality and quality titles. For example, we download a free Twitter client called TweeKL, which horrifically lacks any uplifting presentation, as it distastefully makes itself less useful than actually using their web based client. Obviously, the App World’s lack of quality third party apps handicaps its general appeal from the onset.
Keeping most of the focus on its viewfinder, there isn’t much clutter found with the PlayBook’s camera interface. However, the only two buttons found gracing the interface upon startup are the on-screen shutter key and another that switches it to video recording mode. Although hidden from view, tapping anywhere on the screen will reveal some additional items – like the digital zoom slide, geo-tagging button, and another button that switches to the front-facing camera. Additionally, swiping down from the top bezel uncovers some additional settings – like turning off/of stabilization, changing the ratio, and three specific white balance modes. As a whole, there isn’t enough options to appeal even the most basic photographers out there – though, the overall snapshot quality of the PlayBook is especially good.
As for the video recording, the layout of the interface remains similar, but you can set the PlayBook to shoot in either 480p, 720p, and full 1080p. Surprisingly enough, the PlayBook captures high definition videos at the ridiculously smooth rate of 30 frames per second – and yes, you get that at 1080p. Definitely a remarkable thing to say the least, the only issue found with the PlayBook’s recording is its lack of auto-focus – meaning, items up close and personal will always have an out of focus look.
RIM BlackBerry PlayBook Sample Video:
Sure it’s not the most ideal thing to use for taking photos, but the PlayBook’s front-facing camera is respectable with its output – so don’t be scared off from using it more than usual.
It couldn’t get any more plain and boring, but the PlayBook’s Picture app is simple and straightforward with its interface. Chiming in with the usual looking grid-like layout when an album is selected, we’re presented with all the various gestures to acceptably navigate between photos – like pinch gestures to zoom and flicks to move left and right between shots. Sure there are barely any visually stunning animations with the gallery, but the faint overlay animation when swiping between images is decent. Of course, we see once again the platform’s limit since it lacks any sharing or editing functions.
No doubt it isn’t pretty and lacks any appeal to make it a standout, the music player of the PlayBook is naturally functional. After launching the Music app, 4 giant sized icons break down the layout – these include All Songs, Artists, Albums, and Genres. Once you’ve made a selection, it’ll obviously play the song while displaying the album cover, track listing of the album, and some on-screen controls. And if you happen to minimize the music player or switch to a different app, you can always get access to the mini-player by executing a diagonal swipe from the upper left or right corners to bring up the title bar. Nowhere close to the glitzy visuals seen with Android 3.0 Honeycomb’s music player, the laid back approach of the generic music player once again shows off how it’s not yet fully taking advantage of the PlayBook’s supreme processing prowess.
Although some would think that the Pictures app would aggregate both photos and videos, there’s actually a separate app used to organize videos. Appropriately running the Videos app, it’s the centralized hub for all your video watching needs. Broken down to three categories, All Videos, Downloaded Videos, and Recorded Videos, you’ll quickly have access to everything at one place. Lamentably, there’s no option to upload videos, like YouTube of all things, which of course is somewhat of a feature that’s common amongst other platforms – even smartphones!