BlackBerry PlayBook - All work, no play? [Review]


5 Aug 2011
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Right now, the BlackBerry PlayBook is ideal for a BlackBerry smartphone user looking to purchase a tablet. This is 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 in the App World are nothing to write home about. RIM had announced that Android apps would soon be ported to the BlackBerry App World, but that has yet to happen. The Wi-Fi data transfer option and ability to edit the Documents To Go app is a big plus point.

Excellent multitasking
Brilliant display
Flash and Adobe AIR support

Limited number of apps
Biased towards BlackBerry smartphone users
Poor implementation of the power/sleep button

RIM 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. Although launched globally in April, it was announced very recently here in India with none other than Bollywood actor Salman Khan unveiling it.
Build and Ergonomics
The PlayBook measures 9-inches diagonally, with an effective screen area of 7-inches - there is therefore a prominent bezel around the LCD screen. The device is rounded at the edges, and the edges and the rear side have a rubberised finish which gives a very good grip on the device. Build quality is top notch and the thick bezel has its ups and downs. The positive aspect of the thicker bezel is that it allows you to hold the PlayBook in one hand such that your thumb is on the front portion and does not accidentally activate the touchscreen. The downside is that the slits on sides, when the tablet is held in the horizontal orientation has the speaker section. So if you are watching a movie, you will most likely block the speakers.

As mentioned earlier, the 10 mm thick edge on the PlayBook has rounded edges. The top central portion has a small round power button, which is a bit too recessed for our liking and you will have to depress it at right angles. Considering that is the only way to put the PlayBook to sleep, you will be using it a lot and it will annoy you. Adjacent to it are the volume control and play/pause buttons, which have a metallic body. An audio jack is placed on the extreme right hand side. On the other edge there is the mini HDMI port, a micro USB charging port and an optional charging dock port.

Getting around the UI
You will notice that there are no buttons on the tablet apart from the ones on the top edge i.e., no Home button! The bezel forms a touch-sensitive frame. If you swipe from top to bottom on the home page, a Settings menu will drop down, or, if you are on an active app then its contextual menu will drop down. The Settings menu is highly detailed, and you can control all aspects of your PlayBook from this drop down menu. On swiping from bottom upwards, the application menu is slid up. Apps are broadly categorised into All, Favourites, Media and Games. At any point you can access the virtual keyboard by swiping upwards from the bottom left corner.
On activating an app from the application menu, we come back to the home page and the app places itself in the blank portion of the home screen and then maximises. You can open various applications and work on them simultaneously. On coming out of the application and onto the homepage, you get a coverflow sort of view of the opened applications. This is also known as the card view. You can wake up your PlayBook from sleep by swiping across the screen from end to end.
There is a definite learning curve involved for a newbie. On the whole though, we like the usability aspect of the tablet where everything just works on finger swipes. Those used to the Apple iPad will keep searching for a Home button, but honestly you do not miss the absence of buttons on the PlayBook.

Source : Digit magazine.
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