Blackberry Playbook Tablet Review
The Blackberry Playbook launched some time ago but with a few updates has been able to mature. However, this tablet still has a long way to go before it competes with the best tablets available and is only likely to suit those who pair it with a Blackberry phone.
Blackberry Playbook Strengths
- The Blackberry Playbook is very well built and solid. Due to this smaller format it’s also light although not as light as the 7-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab.
- 7-inch format is more portable than larger slates – it fits into a jacket pocket. It’s also easy to hold in one hand whilst typing in the other.
- Screen quality is pretty decent and responsive (capacitive screen-type). The resolution is 1024 by 600 pixels, delivers sharp images and there’s little drop-off in contrast when you view it from wider angles. It’s pretty decent to view video and pass photos around.
- Powerful processor works well with the operating system to deliver a snappy performance. It plays high-definition video without a hitch, the screen is quick to respond to taps and swipes, and web surfing is fast. Apps load without a hitch and the Playbook will multitask, allowing you to have multiple applications open at the same time. For example, you can listen to your music collection whilst surfing the web and replying to email.
- Blackberry Tablet Operating System is an enterprise-centric operating system with flexibility to suit consumers with a Blackberry phone. It’s intuitive to use and can be picked up relatively fast.
- It handles office-style software with ease – e.g. PowerPoint presentations.
- The tablet has a security focus to ensure corporate data doesn’t fall into competitor’s hands. Not so relevant to a consumer but at least there’s an element of peace-of-mind.
- Capable of handling Adobe Flash web software – Flash video, Flash games and animations. Unlike the iPad this means you have access to the “full” web.
- Various internal storage options raging from 16GB to 64GB. The internal storage is used for holding files such as music, video or office documents. It’s worth investing a bit more money to get more internal storage as the base model offering 16GB will quickly run out of storage space if you’re putting video on the Playbook.
- Rear-facing 5-million megapixel camera for taking still images and video. Providing the light is ok (there’s no flash) then the image quality is good for this resolution.
- Front-facing 3-million megapixel camera for the Blackberry video chat application.
- Micro-HDMI allows you to hook up the Playbook with your high-definition TV and watch the output on the big screen. This is particularly useful if you have web video or downloaded video/images on the Playbook but want to view them on a larger display.
- Micro-USB port used for charging the Blackberry Playbook and connecting to a PC to load files. You can also configure it so it updates files over Wi-Fi so you wouldn’t then need to connect to the PC to add and remove files.
- Battery life comes in at around 6-7 hours of continuous video playback. This is fairly decent for a 7-inch tablet but not as strong as the best 10-inch Android tablets or the iPad 2, these push the 10-hour mark.
- Pre-loaded apps cover off web browsing, picture viewer, PDF reader, music, Documents To Go for viewing and editing office docs (e.g. Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint) and Blackberry Bridge (see weaknesses).
- Decent quality internal speakers enhance the experience when you’re using your Playbook to listen to music or watch a video.
Blackberry Playbook Weaknesses
- The Playbook is not particularly stylish. The design is more practical.
- In comparison to the larger tablets, the 7-inch format limits the screen real estate available for viewing presentations, web pages or video.
- No 3G option. You’re restricted to connecting to the internet via a Wi-Fi hotspot or your home Wi-Fi connection. You can tether the tablet to your Blackberry phone connection though and use the 3G mobile phone signal to get your Playbook online.
- There is no native email client on the Playbook. You can pair your Blackberry Playbook with your Blackberry phone to access the email app from the phone but this relies on a user having a Blackberry phone in the first place.
- Similarly, you only get standard apps like calendar, tasks, memos and contacts if you pair the Playbook with a Blackberry phone. Both the phone and the tablet need to run the Bridge app and have Bluetooth enabled for this to work. It feels like an over complex approach and means that you lose a lot of function unless you’re a Blackberry phone owner too.
- The overall impact of this is that you need to be a Blackberry addict that owns a Blackberry phone now… and be sure you will continue to buy Blackberry phones in future. Otherwise you’ll find yourself with a tablet that is missing key features. This has all been designed with security for businesses in mind but that doesn’t massively benefit the average consumer.
- Bear in mind that you can get around the lack of these core apps using a web browser and logging into web email or other web app services.
- Severe lack of 3rd party apps/games so there is limited choice in comparison to the Android Marketplace of Apple App Store. There have been rumours for months that an application will become available allowing Playbook users to run Android apps. But we’re still waiting for that to be delivered.
- No microSD card slot means there’s no option to extend the memory with a microSD card. You’re stuck with the internal memory capacity of the model you buy.
Tablet Review – Blackberry Playbook
Overall the Blackberry Playbook is a very good piece of hardware matched with a slick user interface and snappy performance. However, you simply wouldn’t buy this tablet unless you intended to also have a Blackberry phone – you’d always feel you were missing out on too much of its potential.
Couple this with a severe lack of apps optimised for this format, and the current capabilities of the Playbook make it hard to recommend unless you’re already a Blackberry enthusiast. The Android app emulator that is promised may overcome the app shortage so it’s worth keeping an eye on this one.
RIM are the company who own the Blackberry brand and they’ve had a rough time of it lately with their stock price tumbling. Be wary of their product range as they could be forced to trim their product lines to cut those that aren’t showing a clear profit. You don’t want to end up with discontinued stock that isn’t supported in future.
The Blackberry Playbook’s prices are set to tumble as sales haven’t been up to expectations. Depending on how low prices drop, the tablet could become more interesting. Also a free update is imminent that will bring a native e-mail application and the emulator for Android apps. It remains to be seen but these have the potential to fill two large gaps in the Playbook’s arsenal.
Blackberry Playbook full specification and user reviews
Image Source: Blackberry