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Saturday, April 30, 2011

RIM Playbook First Impressions April 15, 2011

RIM Playbook First Impressions April 15, 2011

I had a chance today to play with the RIM Playbook today for an hour and it’s a very impressive tablet.


Dual Core 1GHZ ARM processor with 1GB of RAM – allows speedy response and the ability to multitask applications.

QNX Neutrino OS – space shuttle software arrives to the tablet market

3 MP front and 5 MP rear Cameras – can shoot HD video

HTML5 Browser – supports Flash (which Apple will not support)

Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Network interfaces - Cellular interfaces to come

Security – Tethered to Blackberry Smartphone for access to BES servers.

It definitely has the legendary RIM build quality feeling kind of hefty in your hand, but not heavy, just the feel of a solid built device. The back is rubberized and has a nice grippiness to it. Having a Kindle, I was very comfortable with the size of the unit. The Kindle is plasticky and its back is slippery so one needs to be a little more careful holding it. I do find my iPad to be a different experience to use after using the Kindle to read for a few hours. The iPad is obviously larger and better to read PDF magazines and watch videos. The Playbook was very comfortable to use and actually can slip into my jacket pocket. I think this size is ideal for the busy business user. Naturally, a larger screen version will come to market later this year. The Playbook is a professional grade device in the palm of your hand.

The OS works very well and I did not experience any bugginess but I was limited to the applications on hand in the device. The multitasking works very well. I was able to display a 1080 video to a monitor while surfing the web. No hiccups and the video quality was superb. This is an ideal device for showing videos to customers at the table or with a pocket projector in a boardroom.

The lack of applications is going to be a difficult one at start although there will be the ability to run android applications. However, I think the real true business applications will come about as software developers realize there is a new market to cater to. Sure, Apple has a lot of applications but how many of those are useful and how many of those are real. I do not call a zippo lighter app to be useful at all. I think when the corporate world sees the many gaming apps on the Apple iPad it doesn’t seem to be a true business tool. Remember, Apple has had a 1 year head start so there will be more apps but I think RIM will drive the need for more intelligent applications better suited for the business user. Apps are coming for those that are patient.

The top selling feature I believe the Playbook will bring is the security aspects required for the business community. The safe BES servers are what President Obama uses and have been cleared by all the triple letter agencies. Many corporate IT departments have the BES server so adding on the Playbook application isn’t a big deal. Also RIM will be more open to IT departments than the very closed Apple ecosystem that Steve Jobs invented...

Do not dismiss the Playbook, its an excellent device with a bit of a slow start to get sorted out and the poor press will defiantly bring that up, but RIM has been a very very “Fast follower” I was surprised to see how well of a great job they have done in a short timeframe. RIM has nailed the user experience very nicely and it was a very intuitive experience using the device.

Look at the other manufacturers that are actually now very late to the tablet arena. Motorola Xoom has not taken off, and where is HP’s WebOS tablet? And of course Asus, Dell and the others have not done much lately. It will be an interesting time when these come out and the shoot out begins.

Word to Go Application

This was a very easy app to use and I was able to start taking some notes with it right away. The 7” Playbook makes it easier to take notes while standing as the larger iPad becomes more cumbersome as you do need two hands to hold it.


The Dual core processor and leaner QNX OS allowed the apps to work very quickly and smoothly. It is very noticable how fast it works. Putting the Samsung TAB beside it is very easy notice how it lagged behind when opening apps and the browser would glitch at times. RIM did a great job in getting the CPU right out of the box. No wonder Apple had to double the speed with their A5 process or in the iPad 2.

Zero Buttons

The QNX software also allows a very simply method of accessing applications. Since it allows multitasking there is no need for the Apple Button. The built in bezel buttons allows swiping to occur fairly easily.


The ability to view Flash on the web works very well and I had no glitches. I don’t know how important it is to the user but for me it hasn’t been an issue. I am not sure if I will miss it on my iPads.

So RIM has done an excellent job with the Playbook, it does need some work on the application side and its security feature will be a huge selling point for the business community. I think this will be the market that the Playbook will play in as a companion to the Blackberry Smartphone. RIM still has work to do but I would not rule them out or write them off yet.

RIM Playbook or Apple iPad?

Well as an iPad user and iPod Touch user, I am very happy with the Apple tablet and there is some great apps that work on the apple OS only. I also own a Kindle which the 7” screen is a great reader and I find the screen to be easier on my eyes for extended reading. As a business user I think the Playbook will be a great tablet and ion that case my employer can pony up the cash for the tablet so I can pair it with my corporate email address and BES management.

These are all tools that work better for specific applications, more so than others, and the consumer gets to choose which is best for them. Unfortunately, for geeks like me I have to have several devices.

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