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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Powerful, Portable Playbook Review - First Comments

Powerful, Portable Playbook Review - First Comments

Well I am the proud owner of a Playbook. We all enjoy the Box Opening experience and I found the opening of the box a bit more exciting than the iPad as I already had a preconception of the Apple experience. The wow factor was that it came with a nice sleeve with a cool blue interior colour. No manual whatsoever except for a simple card. I am sure many buyers will go through a sense of frustration with the lack of information to truly get started.

First off the swiping is confusing but once you get the hang of swiping left to right the menu walks you through the steps and Blackberry Desktop software is not needed. You could probably drop by Staples and pick this baby up and get it activated at the nearby Wi-Fi enabled Starbucks.

It updated the software to current 1.03 build 1868 which was 300MB in size. This build includes BBM through the Bridge and Video Chat. The swiping is a bit different than the iPad as it also uses the area around the screen as well. My teens who are Blackberry smartphone bigots but iPad evangelists (having dumped their Asus netbooks) but once they saw the BBM and Video Chat app their eyes lit up. “This is Sick!”. There you go; the teens love the BBM tribe functionality with a kick of video to boot with a host of social networking apps could make this a sleeper product in that market segment. Documents to Go is of no interest to them.

Next step was to load the Bridge app and pair it with Curve OS5. The pairing uses a QR code generated by the Playbook (for a highy secure connection) so your Blackberry needs a QR reader. Fairly easy and once authenticated the mail and BBM apps are a joy on a 7 inch screen. This is a killer feature as it takes full advantage of the multi-tasking capabilities of the excellent QNX OS.

Ok, getting the hang of the swiping is a chore as it is different than the Apple and i keep looking to touch the button to change apps like on the iPad. In fact, I get more confused when I try to use my Kindle and I keep forgetting it has no touch screen.

After digging into the appworld , it doesn’t take long to realize there is no LinkedIn, eBay, WebEx, PayPal or Angry Birds apps. In fact the app list is small but I am sure it will grow. Apple started off with a short list over a year ago, so RIM will catch up. I couldn’t find any mention of how to load any android apps.

The tablet is very solid and not that heavy but my Kindle is so superlight you can read for hours with little fatigue. The Playbook fits in a trench coat and a women’s Coach bag very easily

RIM has done a great job with Bing, Kobo and some business apps right out of the box to make it useful so one can’t complain too much. My wife’s first comments on the iPad was “How come I can’t see the videos John” “Honey send an email to Steve Jobs and complain. So my wife’s first comments were “Does it do Flash?”…YES it does.

The ability to be bridged to my Blackberry means my Playbook can use the existing data plan for data access. This means I can read a book on the train or work on some documents and enjoy unfettered email and BBM all on one device in a true multitasking environment. I don’t know of anyone with the cellular enabled iPad so I cannot comment on how it would work with Apple, but I love my Blackberry keyboard and BBM capabilities and can easily type with two hands. The iPad and Playbook still seem to favour the hunt and peck method and I wrote the Cisco Networkers post on the Playbook and am writing this on the iPad. Why? Well it seems I needed to recharge it and somehow I didn’t think I got 10 hours out of it. I will try a few charge cycles to form the battery to see if it improves but the iPad is a true 10 hours. The Kindle is 2 weeks’ worth of battery life. Battery life is a becoming a big factor in mobile electronics.

So the Playbook has gained some maturity since initial release, the Bridge BBM and Video Chat is a huge offering with the new update and really shows the commitment that RIM has for the product.

Of course they were in a rush to release it and maybe it was a bit lacking at the start but they have really come through with a lot of support and R&D commitment.

So all in all I am somewhat pleased but fully expect RIM to deliver the updates this product needs quickly. I do not want to be recreating the misery and the disappointing Palm Lifedrive and Compaq Ipaq personal organizer experience 5 years ago.

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