Saturday, April 23, 2011

BlackBerry Playbook: iPad nightmare but for one thing...

Well not long ago Hisham dragged me along with... actually the whole of Tech65's local team to attend the BlackBerry Playbook preview, innovatively situated in a limo bus that I assume traveled around the island during the day to the various major publishing houses.

If you haven't already seen other reviews around (thank you, I'm honored), you should know that with a combination of a 1GHz dual-core processor, 1GB RAM, and the BlackBerry Tablet OS based on QNX architecture, this device has proven itself to be faster than the benchmark iPad (it's far from ceteris paribus, but that's pretty much the long and short I'd give). Games run smoothly, videos run smoothly even when running out via HDMI at 1080p, the audio plays like a dream, and there is full Flash support. And all this happening simultaneously. It creates one hell of a racket, but it's technically very impressive.

Assuming you own a BlackBerry, the Playbook very smoothly becomes one with it (not that I would expect anything less). Whatever security your company dictates, your BB phone will follow, and consequently, so will your Playbook. After work, when you're chillaxing on the sofa with a glass of wine, you can hook up to your home's WiFi network, and the only restrictions are those of the World Wide Web (and well, the MDA's).

The problem is, without the BlackBerry Bridge program to link your phone and tablet together, the Playbook runs without local mail, calendar or address book apps.

Dun dun dun.

Now obviously it's a very questionable and arguably crazy thing to do, and I am of course puzzled by it, but here's my point of view from from the perspective that, now at least, I am far more interested in the tablet than I ever will be with the phones. And with that in mind, I will be getting the Playbook as more of an entertainment device than something to augment my working life (play > book).

To take the other major players in the smartphone business into consideration - Apple, Android and Windows Phone 7 - people who get the Playbook with the same motivations as me would have one of these phones in their pocket. And if they did, chances are that their mail, calendar and address book wouldn't be too far away from them. And if you're the type to check your webmail (or web calendar), well there you have it. It's part of the Web, which the Playbook renders flawlessly. You're probably going to be further away from your phone at home than you are on-the-move anyway.

Which I suppose means that the non-BB buyers will wait for the 3G version, whenever that may reach our shores.

Because being the ultimate cloud warrior isn't any use when you can't connect to the Web. I'm absolutely fine with checking my Gmail and GCal (and whatever the G Address Book is called, if it exists - I'm a lousy geek that way) through the web browser, but one simply cannot rely on WiFi or phone tethering all the time, it's quite a bother to set up each time, and if you just quickly need to do access that one mail to extract the meeting place of your next appointment, you wouldn't activate your hotspot just to use your Playbook's beautiful 7" hi-resolution screen to do that, you would just check it on your smartphone and be done in 15 seconds.

Would I get the Playbook? I'll probably get the iPad in the end, simply because I have an iPhone with so many apps that can be reused or look even better on the iPad. But the Playbook holds the modest distinction of being the only tablet device that made me stop and stare.

Learn more about the Playbook here.
The rest of my pictures from the event can be found here.

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