With the implementation of the new Playbook operating system (version 2.0) the Gadget Corner got a chance to use Blackberrys tablet and see how the new version fairs up to many users standards.
Now, I’ve personally always been a fan of Research In Motion and Blackberry as a brand – there’s a certain sense of professionalism that comes with owning a Blackberry that you simply don’t get with other smartphones. When sat in a meeting room or an office – if you see someone using an iPhone or Android phone you simply don’t have the same level of acceptance and tolerance that you would get if you saw that same person typing away on a Blackberry phone. ‘They must be sending an important e-mail’ you’d think. Or at least that’s what I think. I find myself drawn to Blackberry due to its professional design, full qwerty keyboard and the fact that there aren’t millions of apps that could potentially ebb my time away.
And I suppose that’s what the Blackberry Playbook emphasises really. It’s a device for people who want to get work accomplished when their on the move and this is something I found exceptionally easy with the Playbook.
It’s not the size that counts…
The first thing I noticed with the Playbook is its small and compact form factor, measuring just 7.6in by 5.1in with a fairly large border (which is actually useful to the interface but I’ll explain that soon) the Playbook is somewhere between a large phone and a small mainstream tablet, it’s a nice size personally, allowing you to read comfortably and view movies on it without it appearing too small or conversely being big and cumbersome.
Using the Blackberry Playbook interface is similar to using most tablet interfaces but with the traditional Blackberry standard, you can also use the aforementioned black border to access out-of-app controls – dragging your finger from the top border to the centre of the screen allows you to access that apps built in menu (the Internet browser allows you to open more tabs this way for example) you can do the same with the bottom border but this essentially acts like pressing Alt + Tab on your PC, allowing you to scroll through all the open apps on your Playbook. Using the left and right border allows you to use the Blackberry ‘Peek’ system, allowing you to look briefly at other open apps without losing your current information (similar to Alt + Tab).
Strangely my biggest concern with the Playbook is the number of apps on the Blackberry App World. This has always been a concern with Blackberry owners as many companies simply don’t create apps for the Blackberry platform – this may be changing thought as with Version 2.0 of the Playbook OS, Research In Motion announced that a number of Android Apps would be compatible with it. If this can bleed through to the Blackberry 10 and open the floodgates for a full Android Marketplace on future Blackberry devices, I think it’ll be the missing piece in RIMs puzzle.
You’ve got mail…
I’ll admit it, in this job; I live out of my Inbox. I have no less than five separate e-mail account attached to my Blackberry currently and literally hundreds of contacts that I’ve built up over the years, I’ve constantly got several e-mails saved or marked as Read Later so I can action them when I get to my PC/Laptop – with the Playbook with me however, I never felt like I had to ignore an e-mail as with the full screen keyboard I could easily type out a (sometimes lengthy) reply. I’ll openly admit that I sometimes had reservations about using the touchscreen keyboard but it’s a really great and responsive keyboard – you are also able to change setting like the sensitivity of the presses to reduce mistakes. I was impressed that the auto-correct was far more understanding than that of other brands. Misspelling ‘quite’ for example instantly replaced it with the correct word whereas I’ve had issues with other providers who seem to think that misspelling ‘quite’ translates as ‘quitting’ or ‘quack’. If you have serious issues with the onscreen keyboard however there is a very stylish leather case with built in Bluetooth keyboard that RIM sell for roughly £60-£70 which can bridge that gap.
Can it last?
A lot of people seem to have issues with the Playbooks battery life but this is something that I had no real issues with to be frank. When using it to create documents (interestingly, I wrote a recent review on the Playbook) I would simply employ standard practices for portable devices such as turning the brightness down and disabling Bluetooth and Wi-Fi until it was needed. Closing all non-essential open apps also helped my battery life too.
I personally believe that the Playbook will be a good contender in the tablet market, its strongest selling point at the moment is without a doubt its low price (roughly £110 depending on retailer) and who knows, with the imminent arrival of the Blackberry 10 later this year – a full touchscreen smartphone that will also be compatible with to Playbook, RIM may have what it takes to pull fans of the brand back.