RIM BlackBerry PlayBook Review

Attempting to fathom what’s going on within the inner bowels of RIM’s circle is undeniably difficult, but taking into account the rash of competition continually eating up their piece of the pie in the smartphone market, it makes you wonder how they’ll be able to fully sustain other ventures outside their comfort zone. Although some might believe that RIM is falling on deaf ears in regards to their line of smartphones, we’ve actually seen the Canadian company more recently adapt to changing the nature of their game to better position itself in this competitive landscape.

In fact, the BlackBerry Torch 9800 was indeed the fresh change of pace for them, but as we’ve seen, it wasn’t quite the polished new experience they’d hope to be embraced openly by the public. Rather, it seemingly reiterated the stubborn stance branded to them by consumers seeing that it failed to keep up with the fast pace nature of its competitors’ platforms. As we all know with any missed opportunities, there is always a period when companies look back to see what could’ve been done to change the outcome – and that’s exactly what appeared to happen with RIM.

Moving outside of their traditional comfort space, RIM is embarking on a new venture into untested waters with their BlackBerry PlayBook. Dubbed as the first “professional grade tablet,” RIM is placing a lot of attention to their bread and butter set of business customers with this one, however, they’re chiming in at a time where standards are elevated ever so high by the competition already. Naturally, the PlayBook’s starting cost of $499.99 will no doubt keep it competitive, especially when it features a ton of contemporary high-end specs, but ultimately it’s going to come down to execution and functionality to determine its true value. Facing uncertainty right in the face, the BlackBerry PlayBook might just be the device to signal the rebirth that RIM is so desperately looking for right now – so let’s find out if it’s waiting for them!

The package contains:

  • RIM BlackBerry PlayBook
  • microUSB Cable
  • Wall Charger
  • Neoprene Sleeve
  • Cleaning Cloth
  • Getting Started Card
  • Safety & Product Information Booklet


At this point, there’s no arguing that there is a lack of variety in terms of tablet designs – which is quite evident from the slabs we’re accustomed to seeing. However, the BlackBerry PlayBook manages to come off as a decent looking tablet with its straightforward design approach and solid construction. Neither boring or captivating, the rectangular sized PlayBook appears to look very ordinary from a cursory glance, especially with its evenly sized bezel, rounded corners, and hard lines. Luckily though, we adore its immaculate clean looks thanks to its venerable soft touch matte back cover that does wonders to repel dirt and debris. Moreover, we’re surprised to see some weight (14.11 oz) accompanying this relatively thin (0.39” thick) tablet, however, it essentially contributes to its solid construction. Compared to some of the other plasticy 7” tablets out there on the market, the BlackBerry PlayBook easily manhandles them in almost every way thanks to its balanced design and high premium feel.

RIM surely didn’t waste any time to properly grace the PlayBook with a high quality display, and rightfully so, we’re utterly mesmerized with its brilliant glow. Accompanying its sheer luster is its reasonable resolution of 1,024 x 600 pixels, though not mind bending, it provides enough detail to captivate anyone from a far glance. Naturally, its high pixel density count places enough emphasis on just about everything to concretely deliver sharp visuals that are enlightening to the eyes. And complementing its detailed stature is none other than its natural looking color production that seems to pop with its juicy and iridescent looking palette. Finally, it’s still visible even under the most demanding conditions outdoors under the sun – and it only requires being placed at approximately 75% brightness. Impressively, there’s no denying the fact that the PlayBook employs probably one of the best looking displays to grace a tablet thus far.

In keeping a slim profile, there are actually very few buttons clinging onto the sides of the PlayBook – which again contributes to its overall clean looks. Conveniently placed dead center on the top edge of the tablet is a row of slightly raised buttons for the media functions of the tablet – these include the volume up, down, and pause/play keys. Although we’re accepting of the reasonable amount of feedback exhibited by them, we’re not particularly too fond of the nearby dedicated power button’s super tiny size and near dead response. In fact, it’s undeniably the worst power button we’ve come across with a tablet. Additionally, the 3.5mm headset jack and microphones are also found on the top edge as well.

Placed close to the left and right sides of the PlayBook’s display are the speakers which provide stereo output, while the 3-megapixel front facing camera, LED indicator, and light sensors are positioned above the display.

Both the left and right edges are completely clean, but we find a few connection ports appropriately lining the bottom portion of the PlayBook. Obviously, the microUSB port is used for the data connection and charging mechanics of the tablet, but as an alternative, the three prongs next to it provide faster charging when they are connected to the optional dock/wall rapid charging accessories. Finally, the only thing left to complete its multimedia prowess is its microHDMI port – which allows you to connect it to a high-definition television and watch full 1080p videos stored locally on the tablet.

Aside from the instantly recognizable BlackBerry logo placed squarely on the clean looking back surface, the only other anomaly is the circular cutout for its 5-megapixel camera. Sadly though, it lacks auto-focus and an LED flash to essentially keep it in contention as a photo taking monster. And much like other tablets we’ve seen, we’re completely locked out from easily accessing any of its internal components – meaning, you’ll need to have it serviced in order to replace its battery.



1. protozeloz

Posts: 5396; Member since: Sep 16, 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

2. jwl3429

Posts: 36; Member since: Sep 28, 2009

The PlayBook takes 1080p video not 720p

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...

4. davecann2

Posts: 460; Member since: Mar 15, 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.

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.

6. Kjayhawk

Posts: 294; Member since: Oct 07, 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.

7. Gawain

Posts: 441; Member since: Apr 15, 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.

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.

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 ?

9. cheetah2k

Posts: 2271; Member since: Jan 16, 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??

12. Hallucinator

Posts: 391; Member since: May 24, 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.

10. luis_lopez_351

Posts: 951; Member since: Nov 18, 2010

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

11. Droid_X_Doug

Posts: 5993; Member since: Dec 22, 2010

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

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.

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!

15. bud unregistered

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

17. bossmt_2

Posts: 459; Member since: Oct 13, 2009

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

18. azeemuddin

Posts: 1; Member since: May 04, 2011

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

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.

21. kentuckyloan

Posts: 7; Member since: Jun 28, 2010

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

22. HTCiscool

Posts: 449; Member since: Jul 16, 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.

23. H unregistered

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

24. Piotrek007

Posts: 119; Member since: Dec 07, 2010

How about 90$ tablet ? I think there is no better 7 inch tablet for that price !!
  • Display 7.0" 1024 x 600 pixels
  • Camera 5 MP / 3 MP front
  • Processor TI OMAP4430, Dual-core, 1000 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB

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