Krista Swanson: Tech Mummy


BlackBerry Playbook Review

Should You have Playbook Envy?

I have BlackBerry Playbook envy. There I said it.

A bunch of people I know were at the Playbook launch party in Toronto last night, and they were bragging about how awesome it was, so I had to go to Staples to try one out.

I’ve wanted to get my hands a BlackBerry Playbook since they were announced – but I was afraid to.  You see, I’m in serious love with my Crackberry and everything about it. The portability, the OS, the fact that it’s made by a Canadian company (Research in Motion) all make me happy, and the thought of having anything negative to say about my  addiction makes me sad.  

Given that the press has been about 50/50 on if  the Playbook will meet expectations of consumers and business, and most of the tech reviews out there focus on the bugs in the OS and the fact that it can’t do email, I nervously approached the counter at our local Staples store for a demo.  I found myself whispering “Please don’t have anything wrong with you! I really want to love you” while the sales guy passed me a demo unit. (He may have heard my whisper and thought I was hitting on him, he winked when he passed me the box, but I digress.)

I grabbed the Playbook and was instantly struck by how light it felt, and how it felt in my hand. It was actually comfortable. I turned it in all directions and found that it was comfortable each way. 

I can imagine that the playbook would be awesome for the gym, I can see myself putting it on the stand on the treadmill, and being able to read or watch a movie. I folded the cover over and put it in my purse, and it fit nicely.  After the sales guy accused me of trying to steal the thing I took it out and started playing with the OS.

Here’s the surprising thing – the operating system by QNX is good. Like really good.  It allows you to do things like swipe in different directions to trigger things like menus, pop apps open full screen or minimize them, or move things to the foreground or background. It all sounds very complicated, but trust me it’s really not.  It’s fast, and responsive and the security on it is fantastic. Kudos to RIM for jumping in to the tablet game with QNX when they did, before someone else snapped them up. While I was swiping through menus and apps, the sales guy came over to ask me if I needed anything, and I was so into the OS I didn’t hear him. True story.

I started snapping pictures with it, and the front and back cameras both worked really well! They seem to have similar quality of output to the iPad2 (but I was comparing in a store with fluorescent lighting so I can’t be sure on that.)

There is still some room for improvement (Obviously I would have loved to be able to get my email on it out of the box, but there is the option to do a tether via Bluetooth to your BlackBerry, which I guess is the next best thing), and I'm sure we'll see OS updates - and we know the next campaign will be 'Playbook2 : Now with Email!', but in my opinion it's a solid entry into the mainly business, but also consumer tablet markets.

If you’re used to the BlackBerry lifestyle I say give the Playbook a chance! As for me?  I just might be spending my tax refund on one next week.  What can I say? If it's good enough for JLo, it's good enough for me. 

Do you have one yet? What do you like or dislike about it?