Hardware & Design
When you first look at the Playbook you notice it has a picture frame look. Also with that the device has a very boxy shape and gives it a sleek and professional look. The material on the back gives the Playbook a nice feel and good grip. The 7 inch screen with a 1024 x 600 display is looks great. Pictures looks sharp and clear and video is smooth with no lag and look great. Some people make worry that the screen is too small but with the Blackberry Tablet OS built for this size screen from the ground up everything works solid on it. The stereo speakers on the front are some of the best speakers I have heard on a tablet. The speakers are located in a common spot where you would place your hands on a tablet so you will need to make sure that you hold the tablet below the speakers so not to block the great sound out of them
The 1.0 Ghz dual-core processor and 1 GB of ram makes things snappy, fast and responsive which we will get more into in the software part of the review. The only drawbacks from the hardware is that there is a mini HDMI port but no mini HDMI cable included in the package which companies should include in the package as standard I feel and the power button is just plain terrible. It’s too small and hard to press. Hopefully we will see a small revision of this power button soon. The front facing 3 megapixel camera and 5 megapixel rear facing camera are some of the best cameras I’ve ever used on a tablet. Both record 1080p video great and while pictures can be a bit dull in color the overall image quality of top of the line among tablet. I took a deeper look at the cameras in a separate review.
Software & Usability
Blackberry Tablet OS is the first major OS change for RIM. This OS is based on QNX and provides a very user-friendly and elegant experience. All actions on in the OS are all touch based with swipe movements on-screen and the use of the touch sensitive bezel around the screen. A big key feature of Blackberry Tablet OS is the multitasking which is true multitasking on the Playbook. You can have up to 6 apps opened at the same time. It’s easy to switch between apps by just swiping up on the bottom that will bring up the home screen and you can scroll through the apps which still run in the background like videos for example. From that same home screen you can close an app just by swiping it away in an upward motion. Also within an app if you swipe on the side you can scroll through apps that way. With the 1 Ghz dual core processor and 1 GB of ram the OS runs smooth with no slow downs or lag. Everything just runs great and this OS is one of the easiest to update of any Blackberry device.
As far as apps go there really isn’t that many available. The App world had a lot of paid apps and not too many free and not a whole lot to begin with but it should grow over time and if the support for Android apps was available at launch it would help this issue. There is a lack of a lot of native apps as there is no e-mail, calendar, contacts and BBM app available right now and you can only access those features if you are using Blackberry Bridge which requires a Blackberry Smartphone. Very disappointing these features that RIM is known for is not included in launch. Also there is no video chat app available which makes no sense with such great cameras.
The Playbook is sort of like a half-baked cookie. While a half-baked cook still takes good you don’t get the full flavor you get with a fully baked cookie. The hardware is solid and top-tier and the OS is fun, elegance and easy to use but the lack of core features like e-mail, contact, calendar and lack of apps available in the app world keeps the Playbook from being a true competitor at the moment. RIM has stated that these features will be coming down the line and I’m sure that in line with the 4G version coming down the line. The Blackberry Playbook will be a great tablet. The key term there is “will be” because as of right now its just a decent one.