Monday, May 02, 2011

BlackBery PlayBook tablet - initial impressions

I've been using a BlackBerry PlayBook tablet for week and I have some initial impressions:

  • Out of the box, I was able to use the PlayBook right away.  No need to connect to a PC/Mac in order to activate like an Apple iPad
  • The PlayBook is slightly larger than a Samsung Galaxy Tab Android tablet and has a 7 inch screen with 1024x600 resolution.  While slightly less resolution than the iPad's 1024x768, the PlayBook's screen looks better since more pixels are packed into a smaller space
  • Power button is too small and difficult to operate
  • There are no buttons on the front of the PlayBook unlike its competitors (iPad has one, Samsung Galaxy Tab has 4).  The boarder around the screen is touch-sensitive and is used to switch between apps and bring up menus.  Very slick and innovative
  •  Set-up wizard is easy to use and well-designed with the exception of the BlackbBerry bridge install which failed since this is not yet available for AT&T customers. However, I was able to install this by opening the following URL on my PlayBook:
  • Power cord uses USB connector but doesn't unplug from the power adapter which means I need to carry two cords unlike Samsung Galaxy Tab and the Apple iPad
  • There are few native apps (Adobe Flash and Air).  In particular, there is no mail application.  However, a web link to Gmail is included
  • While I generally liked the features of the web browser, I found that it was slow to open most web sites
  • Using the BlackBerry Bridge running on my BlackBerry Torch smartphone paired to the PlayBook via Bluetooth, I was able to access my corporate email, contacts, calendar, tasks, memo on BlackBerry from Playbook.   However, many of my internal websites for iNotes, Lotus Connections etc didn't work and returned an error after authenticating: "Cannot download corporate files"
  • I was able sync music, videos and pictures via BlackBerry Desktop Manager (no wireless sync - USB only). Version (April 13). In addition, I was able to mount the PlayBook as an external drive and easily copy files to the device such as presentations and display them via the included "SlideShow To Go" application.  Word To Go and Sheet to Go are also included

In all, it's a well-built device that's clearly geared at the enterprise.  However, since a separate BlackBerry smartphone is required to access enterprise data, this will limit it's appeal to users that don't already have a BlackBerry.  In addition, there are a number of rough edges to be worked out.

I arrived in Orlando, Florida for BlackBerry World which kicks off tomorrow and I'm sure I'll learn more about the PlayBook and RIM's plans for the future.  Watch this blog for details.

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