BlackBerry PlayBook quick look

Playbook-quick-look (1)

Like Arthur, I too was able to get a hold of the BlackBerry PlayBook yesterday.

Best Buy was taking pre-orders for the device at the store before the release and from what I have heard, if you didn't pre-order you might not be able to get anything but a 16GB PlayBook. It seems that the store only had enough 32GB units in stock to fulfill pre-orders and in my area, there were no 64GB PlayBooks in stock.

Playbook-quick-look (2)

One of the first things I have to say about the tablet is that Apple should make all iDevices not need to be plugged into a computer before they can be used. I unboxed the PlayBook and was able to turn it on, without having to plug to a computer to activate it, right in my car.

Playbook-quick-look (3) It was very easy to setup. If you don’t have a BlackBerry account, you could create one right on the PlayBook. The first thing it did after setting up the basic stuff was show that a new software update (version was available. The 287MB file downloaded and installed quickly. It didn't really require any user interaction to complete; I just sat back and watched. On the contrary, as you know, iOS needs a computer to do any updates.

I like that it has a rubber-like back, though, which makes it easier to hold and reduces the chance of it slipping from your hands when you are out and about. I must say that the material smells like when you go to buy tires for your car; it has that rubber smell.

Playbook-quick-look (4) I had already tried the PlayBook at CES 2011 and was impressed with the speed of the device back then. It seems that RIM is really trying to raise consumer awareness because company reps have been at Best Buy, demoing the device, for the last couple weeks. I went up to a RIM rep during that time to see how much the software had changed from the last time I saw it at CES 2011. Fortunately, it was more polished and more fluid than it was in January.

It is very fast and multitasking is great. When you open up any of the applications, they fire up very quickly and you can swipe between any of the apps or video without any delay.

I still have to use the PlayBook in more situations and for a longer period of time to decide if it's better for me than my Galaxy Tab. Compared to my Samsung Galaxy Tab, the PlayBook feels a little on the square side. At this point, my Tab is more useful to me.

Web browsing on the PlayBook is really good. If you want a desktop browsing experience, then the PlayBook is your device. There are a couple things that I would like to see improved, but overall it is a really good browser. Flash sites render without any issues, and scrolling is great through web pages.

Playbook-quick-look (5) But even though both devices have the same 7” display at 1024 x 600, the PlayBook browser fonts seems less clear to me. I also noticed that website fonts on the PlayBook are much smaller, even if you double tap to enlarge. I did go into the settings and set the fonts at 18 and the next higher setting, but this didn’t seem to make a difference when viewing the complete web page. Some might not be able to read the smaller fonts.

Just in my quick use so far, the battery went from 34% down to 23% in about an hour. I  played 8 minutes of video in HD, browsed the web with Flash, and tried several applications without closing any of the windows, so the battery would probably have lasted longer under different usage. Another thing I noted is that the PlayBook didn't seem to charge as quickly as my Tab.

It's still to early to draw any conclusions, so I will continue to use the PlayBook and see how it works out in the real world.

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Hector Gomez

Hector Gomez is a former contributing editor at Pocketables.

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