It has been the year of tablets; iPad 2 was released last month in the US and soon to be coming to Thailand, followed by a throng of contenders like Motorola Xoom, Asus Slate, HP TouchPad, LG Optimus Pad, Galaxy Tab 2 and, finally, BlackBerry Playbook.
When it was lauched on Apr 19, 50,000 PlayBooks was sold right off the bat. Although that's nothing compared to the iPad 2s (which sold 400,000-500,000 sold on its first day), BlackBerry Playbook's specifications and features make it one of the best tablets available in the market right now.
Yesterday we had a chance to get our hands on the real PlayBook delivered directly from the US for the special press preview, and here's the low-down:
The size is quite handy, you can hold it in one hand (about the same size of the Galaxy Tab), and we really love its material made from a special kind of rasin, and neat, expensive-looking finishing. The screen is well-lit and highly responsive an iPad (and a lot better than the Galaxy Tab and Wellcom tablet).
We tried its multi-tasking compatability by playing a video in high definition while working on web browsers and it worked just great. The highlight? It supports Flash (this is better than the iPad), that means you can watch YouTube, open Flash-equipped websites or even play games on Facebook. PlayBook comes with Gyroscope sensor so gamers can rest assured to have fun when playing multimedia games. (Need for Speed is pre-installed for every PlayBook.) Cameras worked well too.
PlayBook supports all business functions, from video conference to push mails. It doesn't have a 3G version because RIM tends to encourage its users to pair the gadget with their BlackBerry or other smartphones so they can use internet everywhere. The applications available in the BlackBerry App World may be limited, but get this: PlayBook is built to supoort Andriod applications. The only major flaw we experience is probably its operating system, which is not yet 100% stable (that's part of the reason why RIM doesn't want to launch it in Thailand just yet). Impatient BlackBerry fans can get it from MBK now for around B20,000, though.
Dimension: 130mm x 194mm x 10 mm.
Weight: 425 grams
Screen: 7" (1024 x 600 pixels) with multi-touch compatability
Processor: Dual-Core 1GHz
Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1+EDR
Cameras: front 3MP HD, back 5MP HD
Operating System: BB Tablet OS with QNX Neutrino technology designed to support multitasking features and best security
Verdict: Dilemma du jour: Should I buy an iPad 2 or wait for the PlayBook? Well, despite the number of features you see on the advert, as a normal end-user, we think they work pretty much the same. If you're used to BlackBerry features and how it functions, you will definitely love the PlayBook (with an added bonus of Andriod applications). If you're a sucker for games, applications and neat e-magazine layouts, however, do yourself a favor and go for Steve Jobs' creation as other tablets are far inferior in these respects.
For a more detailed review, head to Engadget.com. Or get all the updates from the official site at www.blackberry.com/playbook.