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RIM BlackBerry PlayBook Review

Posted: , by John V.

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Don’t be fooled by this small bundle of joy seeing that it’s packing quite a wallop underneath its exterior with its 1GHz dual-core TI OMAP processor and 1GB of RAM. Combining those two specific pieces of hardware, it undoubtedly provides the horsepower needed to power RIM’s shiny new QNX based platform – and boy does it radiate a solid sense of speed with it! Amazingly, we’re mostly impressed with the near perfect operation and execution presented with the PlayBook, which gives the iPad 2 a run for its money in the responsiveness department. Not only are we greeted with eye catching visuals with basic navigational functions, but we’re utterly blinded by how it’s still able to operate at a high level when multiple apps are running – even with 3D intensive games! For a tablet that’s able to juggle multi-tasking elements like no other with little detrimental consequences to its performance, we’re just shocked to find the PlayBook at the top of its game in the speed department.

Upon powering up the PlayBook for the very first time to experience its new QNX based platform, the first thing to come to mind after a few minutes of play is its noticeable similarities to HP’s webOS. For anyone who has used webOS, you’ll quickly be able to adapt to the PlayBook’s various gestures and multi-tasking aspects. Overall, RIM has taken a radically different approach and has thrown out any remnants of its smartphone platform out the window. Gone is the menu driven interface of BlackBerry OS, and instead, we’re presented with a clean looking interface that’s minimal in terms of additional clutter aside from the top bar that displays pertinent information – like the clock and battery indicator. Although we adore the peppy and responsive nature of its platform, personalization is mostly non-existent seeing that you can only change the background wallpaper.

Generally, you can pull up the apps panel by simply performing a swipe gesture up from the bottom bezel – from here, it’s laid out in the typical grid-like view. Swiping between the four app categories is naturally smooth, but it’s unfortunate that you can’t mandate which items go to what category. Moreover, the only organization we’re presented with is the ability to rearrange the icons within the apps panel.

The apps panel has four app categories - RIM BlackBerry PlayBook Review
The apps panel has four app categories - RIM BlackBerry PlayBook Review
The apps panel has four app categories - RIM BlackBerry PlayBook Review
The apps panel has four app categories - RIM BlackBerry PlayBook Review
The apps panel has four app categories - RIM BlackBerry PlayBook Review

The apps panel has four app categories


Selecting a specific app, it displays a small window at first on the homescreen, but soon enlarges to fit the entire display. Much like webOS, you can minimize an app by simply performing a swipe up gesture from the bottom bezel, and from here, it zooms out to give you a bird’s eye view of the app. Of course, you’ll have the ability to easily switch between various open apps once you’re in the bird’s eye view of all the apps. And if you’d rather prefer a simpler way, you can quickly do a swipe gesture from either its left or right bezels to move accordingly to the next app. Again like webOS, you can close out or exit an app entirely by swiping it towards the top bezel.

Bird’s eye view of the apps - RIM BlackBerry PlayBook Review

Bird’s eye view of the apps


Depending on what app you’re in, doing a swipe gesture down from the top bezel will uncover additional functions related to the specific app. In the case of the web browser, it’ll show you all the separate browser tabs, while within the Pictures app, it’ll display the carousel of photos stored on the PlayBook.

Needless to say the multi-tasking aspect is top notch, much like the experience with webOS, but it’s the remarkable speed and fluidity that amazes us in fully realizing the power of the PlayBook.  However, there are still some blemishes to its overall appeal from the onset – like its lack of personalization and sometimes buggy nature. Although it’s not rampant, we did experience on three occasions some lockups, but it’s something that’s kind of expected with a brand spanking new platform. Regardless, we’re still nonetheless satisfied with the quality experience seen with the new QNX based platform, but more importantly, we’ll be keeping an even closer eye on how it matures in the coming months to keep it in contention and fresh.

23 Comments
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posted on 18 Apr 2011, 09:32 5

1. protozeloz (Posts: 5369; Member since: 16 Sep 2010)


I think the playbook was ok at the beginning, but some sort of failed due to the way the company decided to work on some points. there is now doubt QNX is a powerful OS but being tied to another device is not nice, and also.... it runs android apps! why not just work a way to attract devs into programing for QNX instead? most android apps may not even have its full functionality on the OS

posted on 18 Apr 2011, 10:23 5

2. jwl3429 (Posts: 36; Member since: 28 Sep 2009)


The PlayBook takes 1080p video not 720p

posted on 18 Apr 2011, 10:45 5

3. Seylan (unregistered)


I was expecting a higher score...
"A bit pricey for its set of features.." What? It has a really high end spec sheet!
Video chat support will come soon...

posted on 18 Apr 2011, 11:12 3

4. davecann2 (Posts: 460; Member since: 15 Mar 2011)


In the beginning I really doubted the Playbook. Along the way I thought to myself "This would be a great business devise" just like my current BlackBerry I use for work. But after reading this article and seeing the lack of email, contacts, and calendar support this is nothing but a pricy toy that can’t keep up with the big dogs!

RIM should have waited a month or two and got these drawbacks up-to-speed to justify a 7" tablet at a whopping starting price at $500 bucks! Looks to me that most people will just forget about this device and choose an ipad or Android devise. Especially once the new 7" Samsung Galaxy Tabs come out with their latest and greatest.

Playbook = Fail

Sorry RIM, I guess it’s back to the drawing board.

posted on 18 Apr 2011, 12:15 1

5. TabletNetbook (unregistered)


Just jumped to the video review and as always it was a well done review, objective and non-biased--the reason phonearena is still in my reeder!

The PlayBook OS has some maturing to do. . . no doubt, it's a new OS and as OSNEWS put it, when did we start to expect new operating systems to be "complete" at launch and have tons of apps? It's a bit absurd for anyone to think that a *NEW* OS will be perfect at launch. It needs to be released so they can get devs going and work out the kinks. That's just the reality of it.

Nonetheless, I really like the direction they've gone with this OS. I really like the gestures = maximizes the screen while still being very flexible and great at multitasking.

You don't need a blackberry phone for this device. Their are 3rd party email clients and RIM will have a dedicated email client, calendar, etc by summer--they just need to make sure it's as secure as their traditional email.

Killer app at this point for the PlayBook is presentation mode--you can output anything to HDMI and set it to presentation mode, not just mirroring, and then use the playbook for other things. This is very handy for watching movies while using the device and also doing complicated presentation.

Hopefully devs will take to this OS because it looks like it has lots of promise and RIM said they will release other sizes which will be nice.

posted on 18 Apr 2011, 15:17 4

6. Kjayhawk (Posts: 282; Member since: 07 Oct 2010)


I'm not a CEO or nothing but seriously I think if Blackberry were to just wait 1 more month and get a facetime app and an email app I bet it would have gotten a higher score like an 8, and reviews wouldn't be so disappointing.

posted on 18 Apr 2011, 21:00 4

7. Gawain (Posts: 342; Member since: 15 Apr 2010)


PhoneArena, how can you honestly review this unit without showing off the BlackBerry Bridge (quite an amazing feature)? Second, I'll agree that it is inconvenient that there are no PIM apps on board yet, but then you praise the browser, and you don't even mention that Gmail is full HTML5 and you should see how amazing that looks on this device.

You also note how it shares a lot of qualities with webOS, a platform this site has stated to be among the best, then complain it's not like some spotty fragmented build of Android?

Sorry, but that was a half-hearted review.

posted on 18 Apr 2011, 21:41 4

8. bummy (unregistered)


Google has the full calender + email suite in the browser.
Do we need an app for that?

Hey look, there's no E-Mail App on our PC. What a fail.

posted on 24 Apr 2011, 22:38 2

16. Billybob14922222 (unregistered)


there is an email app on EVERY PC...its called windows mail...on a Mac its called Mail...you mean to tell me you go to each individual email account that you have, instead of having them all come to one application ?

posted on 18 Apr 2011, 23:04 4

9. cheetah2k (Posts: 768; Member since: 16 Jan 2011)


It goes to show just how deep the BIAS runs with Apple here at iPhonearena.

The original Apple iFad got 8/10, and it lacked decent storage, front facing cameras, and apps that made use of the larger screen at the time of release. The iFad couldn't even play 1080 video for God's sake, let alone record 720 video at 30FPS.

It seems to me that at iPhonearena its all about how big your dick is...er I mean, how many apps are available as to who wins.

After handling both Xoom, Samsung Tab 10.1 just recently, these tabs were generally laggy and still lacking in apps that supported the larger resolution, as well as the fact that Honeycomb is still in its infantcy as well.

So the question has to be asked. Why didnt the Playbook get at least an 8??

posted on 19 Apr 2011, 08:33 6

12. Hallucinator (Posts: 339; Member since: 24 May 2010)


The Original Ipad was also the first tablet in this market and had Zero competiiton. There is now a floodgate opened and a new tablet comes out every other day. You have to compete in the market. BB is a little behind.

posted on 18 Apr 2011, 23:30 1

10. luis_lopez_351 (Posts: 951; Member since: 18 Nov 2010)


Give it time and the 7 will be a 9/10 C:

posted on 19 Apr 2011, 05:57

11. Droid_X_Doug (Posts: 5536; Member since: 22 Dec 2010)


Too little, too soon. Now RIM has to scramble to fix the software omissions. It is all about the software....

posted on 20 Apr 2011, 12:58 2

13. bi-winning (unregistered)


You guys don't get it. The idea is a unified business experience so having it tethered to your blackberry is a huge plus and allows you to have one contract. The only thing they should have done differently is time it better with some new phones. If you review this thing as a stand-alone for people without blackberry devices you are missing the point. If your using a tablet when you don't have your cell on you then buy an Ipad.

posted on 21 Apr 2011, 04:45

14. IOS5 (unregistered)


its a nice tab but still cant compete with ipad 2 only in 3 things the web browser with full flash, the fablous multitasking and 1080p video shoot that even better than LG optimus 2x and galaxy s2!

posted on 21 Apr 2011, 05:58 2

15. bud (unregistered)


whatever u sayy..blackberry playbook is the BEST ever tablet ....^ ^

posted on 27 Apr 2011, 20:32 4

17. bossmt_2 (Posts: 429; Member since: 13 Oct 2009)


I don't get why you bash pricing. it's the same price as the iPad, which the pricing point was a pro.

posted on 04 May 2011, 08:03

18. azeemuddin (Posts: 1; Member since: 04 May 2011)


i want this for free transport to this address #23 7th a cross someshwaranagar jaynagar 1st block bangalore 560011

posted on 11 Jul 2011, 08:41

20. Clown (unregistered)


Ok one of the BGR editors said this is his favorite tablet..really??? So thank god you guys gave us the proper perspective. The Playbook is basically a web tablet...nothing more. Not having core apps like email, contact and calendar is very foolish. Many say the gmail experience via the browser is great (HTML 5) and that is fine however unless you leave the browser open and watch it, there is zero notification once it is closed. No background services on the playbook for this matter. This might explain why it is so fast. Add a robust notification system and we will talk. It isnt there yet! But moving on this mean no notification for calendar events either. And honestly people use more then just gmail. Many companies have OWA or even a crude horde webmail client. Does hotmail throw up notification, yahoo when new emails arrive? Answer is no.

This device is also heavy compared to its larger competitors. Yes it is build nice but at the expense of weight. Also battery life is great for once again the fact about no notification system due to the lack of an integrated email, and calendar app. IM app? There is so much missing from this device that is why I call it a web tablet. It might be fast, it might be smooth, it might have great battery but all the core key features that the other tablets have and lets see how good the battery is, how fluid it runs etc. This tablet looks promising but without these key features it isnt even in the same league as the other.

posted on 31 Jul 2011, 13:00

21. kentuckyloan (banned) (Posts: 7; Member since: 28 Jun 2010)


If you have a blackberry phone, pair this to the playbook. Awesome experience.

posted on 01 Aug 2011, 11:29 1

22. HTCiscool (Posts: 449; Member since: 16 Jul 2011)


These people diss the Touchpad and Playbook purely because of the lack of apps available. The playbook has top hardware, good screen, nice design, and portability. No email app and no other apps are a problem though.

posted on 11 Oct 2011, 07:07

23. H (unregistered)


this review was written april 2011. more than 6 months later, still no video chat service? skype? or ym?

posted on 26 Dec 2012, 10:23

24. Piotrek007 (Posts: 80; Member since: 07 Dec 2010)


How about 90$ tablet ? I think there is no better 7 inch tablet for that price !!

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BlackBerry PlayBook

BlackBerry PlayBook

OS: BlackBerry Tablet OS
view full specs
Display7.0 inches, 1024 x 600 pixels (170 ppi) LCD
Camera5 megapixels
Hardware
TI OMAP4430, Dual core, 1000 MHz, ARM Cortex-A9 processor
1024 MB RAM
Size7.64 x 5.12 x 0.39 inches
(194 x 130 x 10 mm)
14.11 oz  (400 g)

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