BlackBerry PlayBook First Impressions

Aaron Baker – 
Published: April 19, 2011

PlayBook 1

After what seems like an eternity of rumors, leaks, behind-glass demonstrations, and more, the BlackBerry PlayBook is finally available in retail stores.  Announced at DEVCON 2010, the PlayBook is RIM's foray into the tablet market, and the first product to run on their new QNX platform.  It's intended to be a "new beginning" for RIM, whose reputation has been tarnished a bit as of late due to lackluster devices like the BlackBerry Torch.

The PlayBook is available in 16, 32, and 64 GB models for $499, $599, and $699, respectively.  Is it the best tablet out there?  It's too early to say, but in the few hours I've been working with it, here's what I can tell you:

 

  • In comparison to devices like the Motorola XOOM, Apple iPad 2, and even the T-Mobile G-Slate, the PlayBook is tiny.  Weighing in at a scant 425 grams (just under one pound), the tablet can be held with one hand.  I'm digging the design.  Unlike the other tablets, the PlayBook has a flat, slab-like design, which gives it a more industrial feel.

PlayBook 2

  • The 7-inch display offers a 1024 by 600 resolution, and it's pretty impressive.  Picture quality is good, and colors are very sharp.
  • While QNX is a huge improvement in many areas, it seems painfully underdeveloped in others.  I get the BlackBerry Bridge concept, but the device should have email, calendar, and BlackBerry Messenger support out of the box - a secondary device shouldn't be needed.  
  • Like the smartphones, the PlayBook has access to BlackBerry App World, though the app selection is painfully limited.  I understand that this will grow as time goes on, but this isn't 2007 - with Android and iOS so dramatically ahead, I think the lack of apps will turn some prospective buyers away.

PlayBook 3

  • The 5-megapixel camera took decent pictures, though there's no flash, so it'll be hard to use in low-lit situations.  The front-facing camera is 3-megapixels, which is pretty impressive by front-facing camera standards.  Picture quality wasn't the greatest, but it blows other front-facing shooters out of the water.
  • I haven't had enough time to test battery life, but given the amount of time I've had it on today, it has been decent.  The PlayBook was at 64 percent when I received it, and after a software update and extensive use, it's at 48 percent.  Not terrible, but I'll be putting it through its paces in the coming days.

Stay tuned for more, and check out the unboxing!

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