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RIM BlackBerry PlayBook Review

BlackBerry PlayBook

Posted: , by John V.



Strange as it may be, the BlackBerry PlayBook omits a native contacts management system from the beginning – though, RIM states that it will be implemented down the road with a future update. Despite that, you’ll be able to manage contacts if you happen to tether a BlackBerry smartphone to it using the BlackBerry Bridge app. Still, it’s undeniably shocking to find a tablet, which is supposed to be a dedicated machine, to lack a native address book – thus decreasing its value versus the competition.


Finding ourselves with the same dilemma, there are few (and we mean few) organizer apps with the PlayBook from the start. Again, it’s missing a calendar app to keep you organized on this “professional grade” tablet. Naturally, it doesn’t aid it in any way to keep people from looking at other alternative, but it’s rather insane on many levels to omit this one as well. The BlackBerry Bridge app does come to the rescue, if you happen to own a BlackBerry smartphone, and for the most part manages to provide you with the necessary tools, although we don't see this as an appropriate long-term solution. Thankfully, RIM has announced that it's to update the software of the PlayBook soon, so as to add the missing functionality.

However, the few organizer apps that we do find are things like the clock and weather apps. However, don’t expect to find anything polished with the clock app since it only provides a basic alarm clock, stopwatch, and timer – that’s all! Conversely, the weather app is powered by AccuWeather and showcases how it takes advantage of the tablet’s display. Not only do we find it making use of every nook and cranny of the screen, but there’s a ton of pertinent information displayed – like the temperature, weather conditions, and hour-by-hour forecast.

The clock app only provides a basic alarm clock, stopwatch, and timer - RIM BlackBerry PlayBook Review
The clock app only provides a basic alarm clock, stopwatch, and timer - RIM BlackBerry PlayBook Review
The clock app only provides a basic alarm clock, stopwatch, and timer - RIM BlackBerry PlayBook Review
Weather app - The clock app only provides a basic alarm clock, stopwatch, and timer - RIM BlackBerry PlayBook Review

Weather app

The clock app only provides a basic alarm clock, stopwatch, and timer

Finally, the work accomplished by RIM’s recently acquired TAT (The Astonishing Tribe) is mostly found with the PlayBook’s calculator app. Known for their glitzy work with the Android platform, we find their expertise shown off with the calculator’s proper layout and virtual paper which keeps a tally of your calculations. Furthermore, a swipe down from the top bezel uncovers a scientific calculator, unit converter, and a tip calculator – all of which use the same common looking layout of TAT’s designs.

The calculator app of the RIM BlackBerry PlayBook - RIM BlackBerry PlayBook Review
The calculator app of the RIM BlackBerry PlayBook - RIM BlackBerry PlayBook Review
The calculator app of the RIM BlackBerry PlayBook - RIM BlackBerry PlayBook Review
The calculator app of the RIM BlackBerry PlayBook - RIM BlackBerry PlayBook Review

The calculator app of the RIM BlackBerry PlayBook

When we see Android making leaps in voice recognition services, it’s almost disheartening to find any platform missing out on this useful functionality. Unfortunately though, our fears are confirmed seeing that there’s no such thing with the PlayBook – sad indeed.


Let’s get started with the on-screen keyboard before anything else since it’s a crucial part for any tablet. Although the 7” display of the PlayBook can be challenging for anyone with larger sized fingers, the landscape style keyboard provides some room to type accurately with little mistakes – though, you can’t comfortably position your hands in the same way you do with a normal keyboard. In essence, inputting text is mainly reduced to a single finger experience, but it’s more than responsive in keeping up with our rate. Interestingly enough, it seems that the portrait keyboard might have the advantage with this one seeing that our thumbs are able to encompass the entire layout – thus enabling us to type just a tad bit faster. Still, it would’ve been nice to see a dedicated row for numbers, or somehow combined with the first row, but we’re simply forced to press the symbols button to access them. Indeed it’s not the best typing experience we’ve seen with a tablet, but after an adjustment period, it’s tolerable enough to accept.

The keyboard of the RIM BlackBerry PlayBook - RIM BlackBerry PlayBook Review
The keyboard of the RIM BlackBerry PlayBook - RIM BlackBerry PlayBook Review

The keyboard of the RIM BlackBerry PlayBook

So far we’re shunned from a dedicated address book and calendar with the PlayBook, but the list doesn’t end there since we’re locked out from a native email application as well. Taking a peek at the app panel, you’ll find icons for a few popular email clients, but they’re simply a guise that opens up the web browser to their respective page. Yes, there’s no arguing that the PlayBook’s usefulness is dwindling with the omission of some key apps, but this one definitely takes the cake in keeping it from being a solid contender from the onset.

Internet and Connectivity:

Currently, RIM is only producing Wi-Fi only models of the BlackBerry PlayBook, but down the road, you can expect to see an army of different ones that offer cellular connectivity. Of course, not everyone will be keen on seeing higher prices for those models, but for now, the Wi-Fi models prove to be the most effective route at gaining a wider audience.

Being a no brainer for anyone, one of the main reasons why people buy tablets is the simple fact that they offer the most ideal web browsing experience. And without a doubt, we have to say that the PlayBook completely blows away almost everything out there on the market with its supreme desktop like experience. Sure we’re impressed by how complex pages load in a timely fashion, but what we’re most excited about, is how effortlessly it’s able to handle heavy Flash content. Not flinching for one bit when running into Flash content, we realize the true power of this WebKit based browser as it happily kinetic scrolls or pinch zooms with barely any slowdown or lag. Although it’s not quite at the same responsiveness level of Safari on the iPad 2, we’re nevertheless more than satisfied with its performance – especially more when it accurately reproduces the desktop experience.

Surfing the web - RIM BlackBerry PlayBook Review
Surfing the web - RIM BlackBerry PlayBook Review
Surfing the web - RIM BlackBerry PlayBook Review
Surfing the web - RIM BlackBerry PlayBook Review
Surfing the web - RIM BlackBerry PlayBook Review
Surfing the web - RIM BlackBerry PlayBook Review
Surfing the web - RIM BlackBerry PlayBook Review

Surfing the web

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posted on 18 Apr 2011, 09:32 5

1. protozeloz (Posts: 5396; 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: 294; 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: 426; 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: 1746; 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: 387; 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: 5993; 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: 457; 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: 112; 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
PhoneArena rating:
Display7.0 inches, 1024 x 600 pixels (170 ppi) LCD
Camera5 megapixels
TI OMAP4430, Dual-core, 1000 MHz, ARM Cortex-A9 processor
Size7.64 x 5.12 x 0.39 inches
(194 x 130 x 10 mm)
14.11 oz  (400 g)

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