For a name known only in American sporting parlance, the word PlayBook is an odd choice coming out of the enterprise-heavy stables of Research in Motion (RIM), the makers of the BlackBerry. With their new tablet though, its clear Research in Motion isnt just trying to do a me-too on the iPad. Instead, the PlayBook sports a brand new operating system mated with more than capable hardware, and a versatile app platform that shows promise. Heres the lowdown on the first tablet thats truly excited me since the iPad.
Whats truly great
Multi-tasking: Lets get this out of the way. The multi-tasking on the device is quite amazing, far better than what weve seen on a mobile platform. Swipe upwards while youre in any application, and you pull up all the open programs in a card-like interface not unlike Palms webOS. Unlike other tablet Oss, including the iPad, the multi-tasking really works — its amazing to start recording a video, swipe away to start a download and then start playing a game, and swipe back to see that the video is still recording!
Multimedia playback: The bright and clear 1200x600pixel touch screen rivals the iPad2, in terms of both media playback and responsive touch feedback. With the 1080p HDMI-out capabilities, you can take the PlayBook onto a big screen for stutter-free playback of HD movies etc. Added bonus, you can run a movie on the HDTV while doing something else (like browsing the web) on the PlayBook. Cameras (3MP front, 5MP rear) are above average.
Web browsing: Tired of a stunted mobile web browsing experience? PlayBooks browser runs Flash 10.1 so you can run web video and games right from within the browser. The closest to a desktop browsing experience Ive seen so far on a tablet, with the responsive pinch-to-zoom goodness that tablets have by now perfected.
Pricing: With pricing thats in the ballpark of Rs 25,000 to Rs 35,000 depending on whether you pick up the 16,32 or 64 GB model, RIM seems to have gotten the pricing right.
Bridge mode: If you own a berry, you can securely tether the PlayBook and your phone (over Bluetooth) and access your corporate email, messenger (BBM), mobile Internet, tasks and notes on your tablet. Turn Bridge off and theres no trace of your email etc. on the tablet, perfect for enterprises that might look to share the PlayBook among different employees. Or for that matter, if you hand over the tablet to your kid to play Need for Speed….
Bridge mode: Bridge may work well if you have a BlackBerry, but if you dont, the PlayBook effectively doesnt have a native email application. You could make the case that it makes the device more secure, but Im pretty sure an app for your personal email would be very welcome. RIM says there is one on the way, though.
Apps: While the built-in apps were great (including some demos of some great analytics apps), what next? There is a massive paucity of apps for the platform, and until the 3rd party apps come, dont hold your breath — Android and iOS offer infinitely more choice. RIM says Android app support is on its way by year-end, which may finally realise the PlayBooks potential of a solid business tablet.
No 3G model: None, yet. On the cards, though, but unless you tote a berry, the PlayBook wont be very handy outside the house/office Wi-Fi.
A snappy deal
W ith digital SLR prices dropping and mirrorless compact interchangeable lens cameras seeing traction, is there enough of a market for the do-it-all superzoom category of prosumer cameras? Fujifilm certainly seems to think so, and the latest FinePix S3300 camera is taking the fight to the competition with its extremely attractive pricing.
On the specs front, the S3300 ticks all the right boxes — it packs in a 14 megapixel CCD sensor with dual image stabilisation. Translated, that means the camera a combination of high sensor sensitivity and CCD shift type image stabilisation, which stabilises the sensor against blue caused by camera shake. Pretty critical considering the headline feature of the camera is its 26x optical zoom lens, which starts at a very respectable 24mm wide angle and goes all the way to a monstrous 624mm. Add to that a 2cm macro mode, which allows focusing on small objects as close as 2cm away from the lens.
This bundle of gear is packed into a plastic but rugged digital SLR-esque body which belies the price of the camera. Tipping the scales at over 500gm, this is no featherweight, and while Im all for premium heft, this one felt a bit too heavy, possibly due to the use of 4 AA batteries for power instead of a proprietary battery.
Performance at start-up was snappy, and the camera is ready to shoot in no time. Daylight pictures are pretty good, and offer great sharpness and vivid colours that are a tad too saturated for my taste. Indoors, the results are mixed, with the camera adding a lot of noise to the images.
Take one look at the price, and you forget most flaws. At an MRP of under Rs 16,000, there is simply nothing with this kind of offering that comes within sniffing distance of the S3300. Recommended for the budget-conscious buyer who wants it all.
• Rating: 8/10 lPrice: Rs 15,999
• URL: http://bit.ly/mmX1ir