BlackBerry was one major smartphone player missing from the tablet segment. With the PlayBook, BlackBerry has entered the arena of sleek tablets sporting a completely new operating system. So should the tablet market leader face shivers from the PlayBook? Let’s find out.
The PlayBook measures 9-inches diagonally, but the effective screen area is 7-inches. There is a prominent bezel around the LCD screen and the device is rounded at the edges.
The edges and the rear side have a rubberized finish, which gives a very good grip on the device. Build quality is top notch and the thick bezel has its own pros and cons. The top central portion of the tablet has a small round power button, which is a bit too recessed for our liking and you will have to depress it at a right angle.
The BlackBerry PlayBook houses the 1 GHz dual core Texas Instruments OMAP 4430 SoC. The tablet runs on the proprietary BlackBerry tablet OS, based on the QNX Neutrino micro kernel architecture.
You will notice that there are no buttons on the tablet apart from the ones on the top edge ie. no Home button. The bezel forms a touch-sensitive frame.
Multi-tasking is the USP of RIM’s BlackBerry PlayBook. Although we have seen multi-tasking on the iPad2 and Android tablets, none of those can come close to what BlackBerry brings to the table with Playbook. You can have an HD video running in one app, have your email on another and play a game on a third app without any slowdown. The 1024 x 600 pixel WSVGA resolution on the 7-inch LCD screen looks quite sharp and crispy.
PlayBook does not have any native email client, out of the box! You get apps for Gmail, Hotmail, AOL Mail, and Yahoo Mail respectively. This brings us to the feature called BlackBerry Bridge. In essence, what the BlackBerry Bridge does is sync your BlackBerry smartphone with the tablet over Bluetooth. Once done and activated, the BlackBerry Bridge will form a separate tab housing apps such as BBM, Mail, Contacts, Tasks, Calendar, etc. Remember, these apps will not be stored on the PlayBook, but will just be shared between your BB smartphone and the PlayBook so long as the Bluetooth connection is on. In short, all your mails, contacts, etc. will still be secure, as the Playbook is not storing anything.
The Bluetooth link is 256-bit AES encrypted one, so you can surf the web using your phones data plan or browse through BBM, contacts, calendar under a secure environment.
The BlackBerry PlayBook’s web browser is based on WebKit and technically it does support tabbed browsing.
Video playback was flawless and it supports a variety of formats such as .AVI, .MOV, .WMV but does not support .MKV which is a bit sad. Quality wise we did not face any issues, there was no framing and rendering and even a 1080p clip was quite smooth.
The PlayBook lasted a good day and a half on moderate usage. If does tend to use a lot of battery while playing back 1080p video or when it is connected to an HDTV via a HDMI out option. It takes quite long to charge.
At Rs 27,990 the BlackBerry PlayBook 16 GB WiFi version is ideal for a tablet, mainly due to the BlackBerry Bridge sync option. However, even then we would advise potential buyers to wait it out till there is a respectable apps eco-system. Current apps are nothing to rave about.
Operating System: BlackBerry tablet OS;
SoC: TI OMAP 4430;
RAM: 1 GB;
Camera: 5MP (rear), 3MP (front facing);
Screen Resolution: 1024 x 600 WSVGA;
Dimensions: 194 x 130 x 10 mm
Price: Rs 27,990