Tuesday, March 15, 2011

BlackBerry PlayBook 4G : Specs | Price | Reviews | Test


BlackBerry PlayBook 4G : Specs | Price | Reviews | TestBlackBerry unveils its new PlayBook 4G Tablet in CES 2011 Las Vegas.The new PlayBook 4G tablet is RIM’s first tablet, and it is armed with high-end hardware Specs like dual-core 1 GHz processor, 1 GB of RAM, 7-inch 1024 x 600 capacitive touchscreen display , 5 megapixel camera on the back which can capture the 1080P HD Videos, 3 megapixel camera on the front for video conferencing, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR wireless connectivity ,3G via tethering to a BlackBerry smartphone, and HDMI-out for direct connection to HD home TV and sports.

BlackBerry PlayBook 4G : Specs | Price | Reviews | Test

Review :

My first impression of the BlackBerry PlayBook is that it does not feel like a BlackBerry. Don't get me wrong, it still has a BlackBerry look and familiarity about it, and the hardware has that quality BlackBerry feel, but the second I touched the screen with my index finger I could tell this was really a NEW BlackBerry. When I think back to all of the BlackBerry Smartphones I have owned since my first BlackBerry 7290 (old blue), every one of them has largely delivered the same experience. Within BlackBerry 6 was OS 5, and within 5 was 4.5 and within 4.5 was 4.2, etc. While the graphics got prettier, the camera megapixels went up and the experience got snappier (and on some devices slower), it was largely the same BlackBerry experience. The good things were always good about BlackBerry and the bad things were always bad about BlackBerry (random lag, not being able to install apps on flash memory, etc. etc.).

The PlayBook is different. There is no longer any BlackBerry baggage of the past. RIM got 10 years out of the old BlackBerry OS and they're setting up this QNX-based OS for the next ten years of BlackBerry. It's still in its infancy, and there are a lot of things in the works and still to come (we'll get into that below), but RIM's future is looking much brighter now in my opinion. To me there's no doubt that the QNX-based OS will make its way into BlackBerry phones. I hope RIM can make that happen on the next generation of phone hardware to hit the market, but I digress. We're talking PlayBook here!

BlackBerry PlayBook 4G : Specs | Price | Reviews | Test

Specs :

  • 7" LCD, 1024 x 600, WSVGA, capacitive touch screen with full multi-touch and gesture support
  • BlackBerry Tablet OS with support for symmetric multiprocessing
  • 1 GHz dual-core processor (Cortex A9 Processor), w/ GPU
  • 1 GB RAM
  • Memory: 16GB, 32GB and 64GB versions to be available
  • 5300mAh battery
  • Dual HD cameras (3 MP front facing, 5 MP rear facing), supports 1080p HD video recording
  • Video playback: 1080p HD Video, H.264, MPEG, DivX, WMV
  • Audio playback: MP3, AAC, WMA
  • HDMI video output
  • Wi-Fi - 802.11 a/b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
  • Connectors: microHDMI, microUSB, charging contacts
  • Open, flexible application platform with support for WebKit/HTML-5, Adobe Flash Player 10.1, Adobe Mobile AIR, Adobe Reader, POSIX, OpenGL, Java
  • Ultra thin and portable:
    • Measures 5.1"x7.6"x0.4" (130mm x 193mm x 10mm)
    • Weighs less than a pound (approximately 0.9 lb or 400g)
  • Additional features and specifications of the BlackBerry PlayBook will be shared on or before the date this product is launched in retail outlets.
  • RIM intends to also offer 3G and 4G models in the future.

Unlike BlackBerry Smartphones where RIM has typically been a bit behind the ball in terms of technical specs, with the BlackBerry PlayBook they're much more positioned on the leading edge of hardware. The dual-core processor makes for a SNAPPY user experience.

Processors / Performance - The BlackBerry PlayBook is seriously snappy, thanks to its dual core processor, and seems to be very stable, thanks to its QNX OS. Unlike the traditional BlackBerry OS, which tends to have a bit of a glass jaw (it's fast until something glitches or hangs up), you can tell the QNX OS has a stableness about it. The PlayBook I went hands-on with was still running some unfinished apps, but you could tell any glitches weren't going to slow things down or cause a hiccup. I have a lot of faith RIM will be able to deliver a super polished user experience with the PlayBook and new OS. Again, this isn't a BlackBerry Smartphone where we sometimes need to wait for a couple OS updates to leak out before things get rocking - with this OS we're starting a lot further ahead to begin with and further improvements are going to make it that much better. 

Touchscreen Display - The 1024 x 600 display looks really great. Colors are bright. CrackBerry.com looked stellar when loaded up in the web browser. The touchscreen performance is EXCELLENT. Super smooth, super fast. It's very iPhone/iPad like in terms of the feeling of use. It doesn't feel like it's translating your finger's touch into an input and then moving the display - it feels like it moves with you.

Part of this smoothness must come from the GPU on the processor, and it sounds like RIM is going to open that up to developers as well to take advantage of. It should make for a great UI experience everywhere. The gesture areas outside of the display work smoothly as well. Would a bigger display/device be better? Hard to say... if you think about the existing BlackBerry operating system, I'd argue that the bigger the display, the more enjoyable the BBOS experience is and with a lot more screen space you can do more with apps. But I do think the 7" experience on the PlayBook is REALLY awesome.

I could see it being even better if RIM builds a bigger tablet down the road (which I'm sure they will - just look at how many form factors they have for their phones). But tablets are definitely different than phones. Once a tablet is too big too carry, then it almost makes sense to just go as big as you can. I think the PlayBook really fits that take it with you everywhere you go niche better than the iPad. So a bigger RIM tablet would come at that expense of ease of mobility. 

Can you use the BlackBerry in portrait mode? That's been a hot question these past couple of months as RIM has only ever shown off the device in landscape. Currently they have not enabled portrait mode, but it will be there and there will be detection for orientation switches and movement. I really want to see it in portrait.

Battery Life - RIM is targeting 8 hours of battery life with the PlayBook (I'm **assuming** based on video playback), so it should have plenty of power to get people through a day or two or three of normal type use between charges.

Memory - The PlayBook will be available in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB configurations and.... wait for it.... all of that memory is shared! So if you want to, you could use it all for apps, apps, apps if you want to, or music, movies, etc.

Keyboard - There's no physical keyboard on the PlayBook (I wonder if RIM will ever make a tablet with a sliding form factor and physical keyboard?! :)) but the few seconds I spent typing on the software keyboard went pretty smooth. Being able to pull out the keyboard with a gesture is sweet as well.

Everything Else - In the limited time we had with the PlayBook, it's pretty hard to get into too much detail on it, but everything seems to be in check. Wi-Fi was working well for our web browsing, and the camera seemed to be snappy and grab a decent photo. All in all, it's looking real good!

Apps - That's the big thing here. I have no doubt that the native BlackBerry PlayBook experience is going to be awesome. The hardware rocks, the homescreen experience is cool, and the user experience is fluid, fast, silky and smooth. It'll be a great device out of the box. But these days it's about expanding the out of the box experience with apps, apps, apps. With a web browser that embraces flash, the need for a lot of apps goes away. In the Apple world people tend to look for an app instead of a website. That lack of support drove a need for apps. So immediately the PlayBook's support of flash allows for flash games, etc. to be played.


An iPad 2 killer? Not quite, unless you are talking about the battery and camera. As far as the specs roughly go, this one needs some catching up to do. But a Blackberry device is still worth a look and it will need a real handling to know what the tablet truly has on offer. It will available at the first quarter of 2011 with Price tag of 400 to 500$. Keep watching this blog for our Blackberry Playbook review.

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