I want to like the Blackberry Playbook, and I think for business use, it might be perfect. It just reminds me of my Palm devices a little too much: trying to imitate the apps that I’m used to, but never quite enough. I know where that is likely to head: I’ll be forced to adapt to, rather than explore the software features.
The Playbook hardware is slick, solid and seems well designed. With cameras front and back it’s a good Skype machine and also a still camera and HD video camcorder. Unlike some of the bigger tablets, it’s not too awkward to hold and aim. Recorded video is high quality with smooth motion.
It’s clear that, like my Barnes & Noble Nook, this device will be evolving for some time. It was not until the third major software release that the Nook felt like it was really ready for market. The Playbook is about the same: Netflix and many other apps are still in the works. Since there’s a controlled migration path from Android, eventually the Playbook should have a rich choice of software.
Because RIM, the device’s manufacturer, will be controlling the app market and the operating system is their own product, corporations may be more comfortable with Blackberry Playbook security. It can also “bridge” to a regular Blackberry device for email connections. As it stands, it’s more of a web pad for Gmail and other web-based apps, but the web browser is not one of the big names. It does have three Microsoft Office-style applications including presentation software and a word processor.
Making presentations with the Playbook may be where it’s a real hit. It has HDMI (via a ‘mini’ connector) and 1080p output. You can show videos, give a PowerPoint presentation, even use a Bluetooth keyboard and word processor to lead a discussion whiteboard-style. All that in an almost pocket-sized device with battery life that should last most of the day.
As a personal video player, the Playbook was excellent with good sound and a pretty dazzling picture. With a 1GHz dual core processor, it should be a pretty decent game machine for casual gaming. Use a Bluetooth headset for convenient privacy.
The Playbook is also multitasking. This means that you can do several things at once, which is a must for me. For instance, I am always researching on the web and copying links to documents, watching a YouTube video and then returning to write some more. I can do that on the Playbook.
The touchscreen was responsive and easy to use. I didn’t notice any of the user interface lag that I’ve seen on a busy Android device. It’s one area where Apple’s devices have tempted me: I hate pressing a touchscreen “button” only to try again just as the device is responding, with unintended results.
The Blackberry Playbook has a good chance of entering the corporate IT environment and being a salesman’s best friend. As far as play and personal use, it’s carved out its own niche in the video playback and performance areas. Users used to the rich app environments of iPad and Android will be frustrated, but that may change in the future. It’s definitely a quality device, but it might be worth waiting to see how it evolves.