RIM Playbook reviews are filtering in, enjoy the half-baked goodness

Blackberry Playbook - for some reason we don't have an alt tag here

This is starting to become some sort of ridiculous trend. The Motorola XOOM launched with high expectations as the first tablet to run Honeycomb (Android 3.0). This was the first tablet optimized OS that Google wanted to put on a tablet, regardless of what Samsung thought. The next one in the pipeline is the 7″ Playbook tablet from RIM. What has always stood out as a killer looking product with advanced multi-tasking capabilities is looking more and more like a rushed product as reviewers get their hands on them. This is starting to become disappoinging, and I hope HP’s extra time with their Touchpad will have their version cleaned up by release. Read on to see what I’m talking about.

Let’s start off with some comments from reviewers:

Walt Mossberg

“This first edition of the PlayBook ……lacks such basic built-in apps as an email program, a contacts program, a calendar, a memo pad and even RIM’s popular BlackBerry Messenger chat system.”

“To get these features…. you must use it with a nearby BlackBerry phone connected to it wirelessly over a short-range Bluetooth connection.”

“when I broke the connection, the apps became grayed-out and the data they held disappeared. It is all stored on the phone.”

“it makes the PlayBook a companion to a BlackBerry phone rather than a fully independent device.”

“RIM says it is planning to add built-in cellular data, email, contacts, calendar and the other missing core features to the PlayBook this summer, via software updates. But until then, I can’t recommend the PlayBook over a fully standalone tablet, except possibly for folks whose BlackBerrys never leave their sides.”

“I got the strong impression RIM is scrambling to get the product to market”

“although the PlayBook has very nice front and rear cameras, it comes without video-chatting software.”

The built-in Photos app offers no functions for sharing pictures…You can’t yet add Web bookmarks to the home screen, though some ship with the device.”

“I really liked the user interface of the new operating system, which is based on software RIM bought called QNX. It’s smooth and fast, and makes excellent use of multitouch gestures.”


“Early builds of the PlayBook software (we’re now on our third since taking possession of the thing) seemingly had some issues managing memory, and on multiple occasions we found upper corners glowing red.”

“Curiously, though, the device doesn’t support simple USB mass storage — you can’t just plug it in to your laptop and dump a bunch of files on it.”

“compared to the competition, it [battery life] delivers a solid mid-pack performance.” (about 7 hrs)

The OS “Ultimately it’s very intuitive to use and, even better, it feels really good.”

“When the system was running under load, with numerous other apps hanging around in the background, the browser would frequently and disconcertingly close.”

“There’s also an option to run the Bridge Browser, viewing the web through the phone interface, but as of this moment that feature is simply busted — the app crashed every time we tried it.”


“RIM says it’ll have the most of any tablet at launch, with 3000. Most of what I’ve seen so far in the beta App World is junk.”

“For being so small, it’s got tons of muscle, like a freaky little dude on ‘roids. Everything’s fast and silky.”

“I don’t think anyone should buy it right now—BlackBerry user or otherwise—for at least a few months, to see if the platform has enough legs to carry itself to where it needs to be.”


“It’s not all gravy, though. The top edge of the PlayBook is a case study in bad design. The problem is the power/wake button, which is so small and recessed that you’ll need to whittle down your fingertip to use it. When placed within the extra layer of a case, the power button was almost impossible to press.”

“the PlayBook’s browser is a clean slate (no pun intended), and Web sites react to it just like a desktop browser. This means you won’t be wasting any time on mobile versions of sites designed for the small screens of smartphones–a problem that even larger tablets such as the Motorola Xoom and iPad 2 can’t seem to shake.”-I can’t say enough about this. I hate the mobile site from the XOOM or iPad’s.


“There are stereo speakers flanking the PlayBook display, and in short, they’re some of the loudest and clearest speakers I’ve heard on a mobile device or tablet. They rock.”

“the entire package doesn’t quite add up to equal the best tablet computing experience we’ve seen.”

“In daily use, RIM’s own apps like the browser and video apps have crashed on me multiple times. When I log into Facebook I’ve even gotten out of memory errors while only one or two other apps were running”

When talking about the app approval process and different types of app submissions: “The problem with this approach is not only an inconsistent user experience, but also the common denominator has been drastically lowered….after spending almost a half hour browsing through App World looking at the PlayBook apps, I’d be stretching it if I said there was more than three apps that I think I’d want to download.”

“I can’t help but feel like the PlayBook, as it stands now, is an unfinished product. The hardware is there but the software is buggy at times,and  the apps are severely lacking and almost non-existent in terms of quality.”

Of course, these are just bits and pieces of their reviews, but I’m sure you can get the overall tone. The Playbook excels in some areas, but it just isn’t ready. The XOOM excels in some areas but just isn’t ready. The iPad was ready, and consumers knew that from day one. That’s a huge difference in consumer mindset, and that’s extremely important when discussing products that cost upwards of $500. Oh, and charging the same price for a 7″ tablet as Apple is with their 9.7″ iPad, completely moronic!

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Allen Schmidt

Allen is a former contributing editor at Nothing But Tablets, which was merged with Pocketables in 2012.

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