The BlackBerry PlayBook is a tablet computer created and distributed by RIM ( Research In Motion ), which is a Canadian company, well known for the production of BlackBerry smartphones. The company’s initial plan was to launch the tablet only for developers in October 2010, and only in 2011 to be available for the open public, becoming a direct competitor to Apple’s iPad, iPad 2, and other Android-powered tablets.
We can tell you that the PlayBook is more of a serious tablet when compared with the competition, such as Apple or Google. Don’t be afraid you can play games on it if you like, but there are rather boring than entertaining.
On the other hand, it’s absolutely great when running a PowerPoint presentation and it feels very secure. Unfortunately, the tablet doesn’t have a lot of fun in it, but it sure not lacks useful features, and in addition it’s ‘dressed’ in an astonishing exterior.
BlackBerry PlayBook’s Hardware
The tablet has a dark styling, and only the chrome logo on the back makes it a little more ‘beautiful’. The chassis is made from metal, and it’s a little rubberized, and the device doesn’t flex absolutely no where. Although the PlayBook is only 0.4-inches thick it feels very strong when you hold it in your hands, and besides this, it’s very light, at only 0.9 pounds.
The great news is that although the tablet is smaller than the competition, it may be an advantage considering that it’s very easy to handle and to work with. Because it’s light you can read easily, and because of the small size, the user can carry it very easily.
The only physical buttons that the tablet has are the top four buttons: volume up, volume down, play / pause, and the power button. Unfortunately, you cannot find the button if you aren’t looking, and it’s also very hard to push. Bad news is that you simply cannot push it without a fingernail or something sharp. Besides all of these, it is placed on the top of the device where your fingers never reach.
On the bottom of the device you will notice three ports: micro-USB, micro-HDMI, and the charging connector for use with the docking system, which charges the battery twice as fast as with micro-USB. You will also notice on the top a 3.5 mm headphone jack, but take a closer look and you will also see the speakers fitting nicely alongside the glass.
BlackBerry PlayBook’s Internals
The BlackBerry PlayBook runs on a dual-core CPU ( TI OMAP ) , clocked at 1GHz, and it’s specially synchronized by the QNX OS. Let me tell you that the QNX OS is absolutely great, and it’s sustained by 1GB of RAM, and 16, 32, 64GB of storage, starting at $499 but each adding will cost you $100 more.
The new graphics are running on a PowerVR design, which is capable to decode and display 1080p video via HDMI, while still working nice on apps. The applications load very fast, and are very responsive, while the time spent between switching them is none.
BlackBerry PlayBook’s Connectivity
There are several options from which you can choose for the PlayBook, such as WiMAX sampler for Sprint, HSPA+ and LTE for other carriers. This means we have 802.11a/b/g/n connectivity and Bluetooth. An interesting feature is that you can also connect a keyboard and mouse via Bluetooth, and a cursor will appear on the PlayBook’s screen.
Unfortunately, the tablet lacks normal USB mass storage, so users are a little bit ‘restricted’ when coming to transferring files such as music, movies, documents, and so on. You can use it via USB as a mount drive, but the bad news is that you only have access to just one small driver. By using this driver you can explore the device via USB or over the network, but the bad news is that it only works with a Mac or PC, so if you’re planning on buying this tablet, keep this in mind.
BlackBerry PlayBook’s Battery Life
While keeping the WiFi permanently on, the screen bright, browsing websites, listening to music, the PlayBook can offer you a couple of days before you need to plug it for charge. Unfortunately, you cannot compare it with the competition.
We say this because we managed to keep the PlayBook alive for 7 hours, while an MPEG4 running, WiFi enabled, and screen brightness at about 60%. Subjected to the same treatment was the Samsung Galaxy Tab, which lasted with an hour more. The iPad 2 is the single one that can run ten and a half hours.
BlackBerry PlayBook’s Keyboard
When you first look at the keyboard gives you the feeling of a great and useful one. When you are using the tablet in landscape mode you will notice that the keys are spread but the great news is still reachable by thumbs, even if you hold it in portrait mode, but you will have to be more careful not to make a mistake.
But if you go further, and it will annoy you in just a couple of minutes. Why? Because no number or special keys are present without entering the symbol menu; you don’t even have the exclamation point and the question one.
BlackBerry PlayBook’s Browser
Speaking about the browser, the great news is that RIM offers an Webkit browser already built-in, and to our surprise, it’s a very good one. The browser is running fast, and it’s set by default to open pages in full desktop mode, featuring pinch-to-zoom option, of course.
BlackBerry PlayBook’s Adobe Reader
On the Playbook you will soon discover that Adobe has it’s own custom build of PDF Reader installed. Unfortunately, the application is quite boring but it works absolutely great. Other useful applications are also available such as Sheet, Word, and Slideshow to Go, which offer users the possibility to open XLS, DOC, and PPT files, and even create one.
BlackBerry PlayBook’s Camera
The PlayBook comes packed with two cameras, a front-facing 3-megapixel camera and a 5-megapixel one on the back, which allow users to record 1080p MPEG 4 video. After a few tests it was proved that the quality of the video is very good, and the pictures as well. Although you need more light, in most cases the pictures were crystal clear.
BlackBerry PlayBook’s Accessories
Research In Motion also has to offer a few accessories for their tablet. The first is a $50 Convertible Case that offers protection, and also serves as a stand. But let’s face it, $50 it’s quite a lot, so you better think twice before buying it.
Another interesting one is the Rapid Charging Pod. Here is another story because this gadget is indeed very useful. The device is in fact a magnetic stand featuring a charger at the bottom. The company said that it’s more faster than micro-USB charging, and in addition, you can watch a movie while standing in the dock. If you like this gadget, you can buy it for $70.
We strongly advise you to read a full accounting of the BlackBerry PlayBook’s features and operation, start by reading the manual.