BlackBerry PlayBook Review Mix


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BlackBerry's entry into the tablet market, the PlayBook, is already in the hands of reviewers. They've been testing it out and taking a close look at what they like and what they don't like about the tablet. The tablet will be available on April 19th, and while small in comparison is getting some attention. It's even cool enough for the Black Eyed Peas.

Well, let's take a look at what the reviewers think of the new device, and brace yourself for the inevitable iPad comparisons.

Hit the jump and read on.

Screen Quality

Pogue (NYT): Brilliant

Mossberg (WSJ): The screen is beautiful, even though it has a lower resolution than the iPad‚Äö√Ñ√¥s.

Engadget: Seven-inch, 1,024 x 600 display that will threaten neither rods nor cones when on maximum brightness. It does, however, deliver great clarity and excellent viewing angles. 

Gizmodo: The screen, bright and pop-y (and glosssssy), just a shade short of killer.

Boy Genius Report: No direct mention.

iSmashPhone Verdict: Everyone can agree that the screen is lovely. Bright, and offers excellent viewing angles. No problems there.



Pogue (NYT): Feels great: hard rubberized back, brilliant, super-responsive multitouch screen, solid heft (0.9 pounds). 

Mossberg (WSJ): The hardware is sturdy and the back has a nice rubberized feel. While the PlayBook is 14% thicker than the iPad 2, it‚Äö√Ñ√¥s about one-third lighter … will appeal to people who find the Apple product too large.

Engadget: It feels perfectly solid and doesn't yield to any attempted contortions, despite being just 0.4-inches thick — less than a tenth thicker than an iPad 2. At 0.9 pounds, it's considerably lighter, but a bit heavier than the .83 pound Galaxy Tab.

Gizmodo:  It matches what you expect a tablet to feel like. Cut like a tall paperback, but just a hair or seven thicker than an iPad 2, it's less than a pound. The back is just rubbery enough to feel grippy, but not so rubbery it feels gross.

Boy Genius Report: Has a great weight to it; not too heavy and not too light ‚Äö√Ñ√Æ it feels like a substantial and quality product when you hold it. Other things I like are the soft-touch rubberized finished on the entire unit, save for the thin brushed gun metal frame around the display. Both textures work well together and they add to the feeling that you‚Äö√Ñ√¥re holding something worth spending $499.99 on (base 16GB model).

iSmashPhone Verdict: The rubberized back seems to have won over many of the reviewers. They say it adds a nice grip to the PlayBook, but the device is still kept lightweight, making it an excellent tablet to hold.


Pogue (NYT): The PlayBook‚Äö√Ñ√¥s front and back cameras (3 and 5 megapixels) can record stabilized stills and high-definition video.

Mossberg (WSJ): And the cameras are better than the iPad‚Äö√Ñ√¥s.

Engadget: Again, the PlayBook has three megapixels up front and five around the back, enabling 1080p MPEG4 video recording in a tablet and, we must say, doing a fair job of it. You're going to want a lot of light but, if things aren't too dim, video quality is quite good…

Gizmodo: The front camera is mega-awesome, compared to every other tablet and phone's front camera

Boy Genius Report: 5-megapixel rear camera, (and) a 3-megapixel front-facing camera.

iSmashPhone Verdict: The cameras are nice, according to the reviewers, Mossberg even calls them better than the iPad.


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Pogue (NYT): Super-responsive.

Mossberg (WSJ): No direct mention

Engadget: Everything is quick and responsive — just what you expect on a tablet that costs this much money.

Gizmodo: No direct mention

Boy Genius Report: No direct mention

iSmashPhone Verdict: Not many went into the responsiveness, but this is important. The good news is that those who did describe it as very responsive. Both the screen, and the way the software runs. This is good to know.



Pogue (NYT): Its software is based on an operating system called QNX, which Research in Motion, the BlackBerry‚Äö√Ñ√¥s maker, bought for its industrial stability.

 You should also know that even now, only days before the PlayBook goes on sale April 19, the software is buggy and still undergoing feverish daily revision.

Mossberg (WSJ): It uses a new tablet OS that is handsome and quick, and looks different from Apple‚Äö√Ñ√¥s and Google‚Äö√Ñ√¥s. I enjoyed the user interface

I ran into a few bugs, including a scenario where the memory ran out prematurely.

Engadget: Early builds of the PlayBook software (we're now on our third since taking possession of the thing) seemingly had some issues managing memory, and on multiple occasions we found upper corners glowing red.

Gizmodo: There's a whole lot of stuff that's still not there, or on RIM's list of "coming soon"

Boy Genius Report: I don‚Äö√Ñ√¥t believe what normal users will see on April 19th out of the box will be that different at all from what I‚Äö√Ñ√¥ve been using, and that‚Äö√Ñ√¥s a little concerning. For all the advancements RIM has made in the OS department, the PlayBook‚Äö√Ñ√¥s software feels rushed in almost every way possible. From inconsistencies with the UI and design to random bugs and annoyances, the software on the PlayBook shows one of RIM‚Äö√Ñ√¥s biggest weaknesses: its lack of ability to execute.

iSmashPhone Verdict: Believe it or not, this was the weakest point. Most say that the software feels unpolished and buggy. This is just days before a release. At this point, it's hard to imagine many changes coming pre-release, and a firmware update on day one doesn't seem out of the realm of possibility. This reason alone makes the reviewers feel that the product is being rushed to market.



Battery Life

Pogue (NYT): No direct mention

Mossberg (WSJ): Battery life also fell short in my tests. With the screen brightness at about 75% and Wi-Fi on, I played a movie I had transferred from a computer over and over until the juice ran out. The PlayBook lasted a bit over five hours, well short of the company‚Äö√Ñ√¥s claim of eight to 10 hours for mixed use. In mixed use, and on a second test of watching video with Wi-Fi off, I did better, over six hours.

Engadget: With day-to-day usage, WiFi on, screen reasonably bright, checking out some websites and playing some tunes, the PlayBook has plenty of juice to get you through a couple days without breaking a sweat…But, compared to the competition, it delivers a solid mid-pack performance. 

Gizmodo: The battery life is legit all day long. 

Boy Genius Report: The battery life on the PlayBook has been extremely, extremely good. It lasts for days and I rarely worry about remembering to charge it.

iSmashPhone Verdict: Battery life seemed to sit somewhere in the middle. It wasn't particularly great for most, but lasts long enough for regular use. Mossberg said that the battery ran about 5-6 hours, but he explains that he puts the batteries through some rough tests. Though he does mention that he tried a bit of mixed use as well.



Pogue (NYT): For now, there are too many features that live only in R.I.M.‚Äö√Ñ√¥s playbook ‚Äö√Ñ√Æ and not enough in its PlayBook.

Mossberg (WSJ): unless you are constantly glued to a BlackBerry phone, or do all your email, contacts and calendar tasks via a browser, I recommend waiting on the PlayBook until more independently usable versions with the promised additions are available.

Engadget: Right now, the BlackBerry PlayBook is a tablet that will come close to satisfying those users who gravitate toward the first word in its name: BlackBerry.

Gizmodo:  I don't think anyone should buy it right now‚Äö√Ñ√ÆBlackBerry user or otherwise‚Äö√Ñ√Æfor at least a few months, to see if the platform has enough legs to carry itself to where it needs to be.

Boy Genius Report: The PlayBook is a very solid product, from the hardware to brand new operating system, I love where RIM is going… I can‚Äö√Ñ√¥t help but feel like the PlayBook, as it stands now, is an unfinished product. The hardware is there but the software is buggy at times,and  the apps are severely lacking and almost non-existent in terms of quality.

iSmashPhone Verdict: Ouch. The PlayBook shows promise according to some of the reviewers, but even they say it feels incomplete. Some recommend holding off until things are worked out.


What do you think?

This can't be said enough. The PlayBook is important for RIM. They seem to be in a bit of a tough spot thanks to the growing popularity of Apple and Android. This tablet can help keep them in the game, even if they can capture that important enterprise market.


Please check out the full reviews here: NYTimes, All Things D, Engadget, Gizmodo and BGR.

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