#technology, Blackberry Playbook review

Blackberry Playbook Review

I’ve returned my Blackberry Playbook I had on loan.

And now I have until June 16th – when they launch here in the UK – to decide to buy one or not.

Having just purchased an iPad2, I’ve been able to compare both, side by side. Rather than just adding another review here, I’m going to make some suggestions. It is unlikely anyone will buy this who is not a Blackberry user – and this is a business, not consumer, device. It needs considerable work to get it to the place it should be.

And RIM need – somewhat urgently I think – to realise this is a business device and drop any illusions of mass general consumer take-up. I’m stressing this point, as after using the Playbook, I was left with the feeling that RIM has asked just a few consumers and business users what they want in a device and landed somewhere in the middle – as opposed to concentrating on understanding the requirements of a business user for a business machine and acting on this.

The device is ‘chunky’ compared to the iPad2, though it is similar sized to an A5 Moleskin, so with a leather case it could look really smart.

RIM Blackberry Playbook

Firstly, get the designers to design a new on/off button that will protrude above the casing. It is too difficult to turn off and on. The boot time is extraordinarily slow. This should be revisited and the software to have a ‘hibernate’  status. More on this point later.

The second major omission is integrated eMail. The thinking from RIM is that for security, eMail is launched via BlackBerry Bridge – an app that reads the content of your device via  Bluetooth. This is misguided. The benefit of having a larger screen, a separate powered device  (in case your BB mobile is running low on power) and then all the benefits of  editing / filing emails on a larger screen  are lost. For RIM to launch a handheld device without the inherent benefit of a Blackberry, which is business eMail is, again lessens the usefulness of the device. Blackberry Bridge took me over half an hour to download and set-up.  RIM should revisit this app and add in progress icons and explanatory screens – there simply is no information given.

Again, not good enough. On this ‘business’ point, focus on the apps business users need – not Hotmail, AOL and Games. There is no LinkedIn, no DropBox, no Twitter, No Blackberry Protect, no BBC iPlayer, no Evernote and no newspaper apps.

Why is the YouTube icon black? Not disappointing – just unacceptable. RIM should be on top of this – the longterm take up of the device will depend on the availability of business apps. The Playbook App World is a poor as the Blackberry App World. The tagging for searching is beyond the word ‘bad’ – it simply doesn’t work properly.

This should be a priority.

The Playbook Browser is excellent. I tried to upload a PowerPoint via Blackberry Bridge but gave up after five attempts. The video playbook is also fantastic – incredibly clear with a near 3D effect. Swiping to change screens and doing so from the bevel is impressive – and if you touch both corners with two fingers out, the full screen reduces – and can then be swiped left/right – again impressive.

Also, there is an on/off app – again very odd. RIM should revise the software and have an additional menu from the left or right bevel – with the on/hibernate/off buttons here. I think it will be interesting to see how RIM fare with the Playbook – I’d prefer if they addressed the problem before I go out and buy one.


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