| PlayBook from BlackBerry
Is it worth waiting for PlayBook, the much-hyped tablet from BlackBerry? You decide. It was to be launched in India in April, but the event has been postponed.
Can you imagine an RIM (Research in Motion) — the makers of BlackBerry — product without email? Well, this one does not have any native email support.
A touch-screen tablet, PlayBook costs $500, $600 and $700 for the 16GB, 32GB and 64G models respectively. The iPad is 10-inch long. But the PlayBooks seven inches makes it easier to hold with one hand. However, its about half an inch too wide.
The PlayBook is essentially an Apple iPad clone. It runs smooth but lacks many essential features. First, it is Wi-Fi only. With few hotspots in India, youll need to carry your own MiFi, like Photons Wi-Fi datacard.
The user interface, however, is impressive. The graphics are simple and visually interesting. Even better is the layout — its sensible, though not as simple to navigate and organise as Apples iOS user interface. However, its full of bugs. That said, let me summarise the features.
Seven inches, 1024 x 600 screen, about 0.5kg
Its smaller and lighter than the iPad with a denser screen (text looks cleaner and less pixilated). Its slightly bigger and heavier than the Samsung Galaxy Tab. Then again, the latter looks more like a big phone.
BlackBerry Tablet OS
PlayBook runs on BlackBerry Tablet OS, which is powered by QNX technology. QNX is a software company RIM bought in April, whose software is used in products from Cisco and GE, among others. The OS is built on QNXs Neutrino microkernel.
It supports a whole bunch of standard platforms and technologies such as Java, Adobe Flash and AIR. Apps written for WebWorks will run on BlackBerry 6 or the PlayBook, while Java makes it easier for developers to port Java-based BlackBerry 6 apps. OpenGL means theres great potential for graphically intense games.
Dual-core 1GHz processor, 1GB RAM
Its got the horsepower to multitask, output 1080p video and run high-powered apps. The 1GB of RAM is essential for running applications in the background and opening multiple tabs. iPad owners would know that opening more than a few tabs in Safari is liable to get them flushed as the device runs out of memory.
PlayBook has true multitasking. RIM seems to be highlighting that multitasking on the iPad is still limited in many ways. Apps cant fully run in the background on the iPad like on a PC. They can perform select actions, like playback audio or finishing a download in a given period. This implies that PlayBook lets things run in the background like a BlackBerry phone.
Flash-Loving, Adobe Flash 10.1, Adobe AIR built-in
PlayBook runs Flash and AIR. This means Flash sites that dont work on the iPad can be viewed here. Itll be interesting to see how well Flash works on PlayBook compared to the less powerful Android phones, where it can run into performance issues. AIR, on the other hand, opens the door for some app opportunities. Combined with the WebKit browser, it should be a decent web experience.
Dual cameras, video conferencing, many ports
The rear camera is 5-megapixel while the front is 3-megapixel. You can record video with both, but not video chat. The device supports a handful of video formats — in 1080p — like h.264, WMV, DivX and MPEG, and it outputs video through a mini HDMI port. Also, it has a standard micro USB port.
Kindle App on the way
PlayBook is more book-sized than the iPad, so a Kindle app for reading is on the way, confirms Amazon.
Cons: Some hardware issues and significant software bugs. No native email support at launch, only browser bookmarks for Webmail sites. Bridge support for BlackBerry phone sync isnt yet finalised. No video chat.
Bottomline: RIM needs to push out updates to make PlayBook a better tablet for email, video chat and productivity. For now though, competitors with more versatile and complete feature sets outmatch it. The biggest drawback: lack of good Apps.
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