Tech Blog

In Defense of the Playbook

by Guest Blogger on ‎01-03-2012 05:00 PM - last edited on ‎05-02-2012 06:30 PM by Retired Moderator

PlayBook_front_medium.pngTablets, tablets, tablets.

 

There used to be just one, but suddenly now there is a huge selection.  With so many choices it can become a real trick to know which one to buy.

 

If you are shopping for a tablet, one thing you need to know is that they are truly apples, oranges, bananas and blackberries.  This means that it is honestly hard to do direct comparisons. 

 

If you have decided it is time to buy a tablet, you have also probably read many reviews on 'which tablet is right for you'.  I will not be so bold as to predict which tablet is going to be your new companion by provide some long list of pros and cons.  The reality is that you need to go Future Shop and spend 10 minutes with each tablet.  Just like the right magic wand will find its owner, the right tablet will also form an instant bond.

 

Should you make the move to invest (yes invest, they are a little expensive) in a tablet, I want to suggest that you not overlook the Blackberry Playbook.

 

I have to admit that I like the smaller size of the Playbook.  Large real estate is always great when you need it, but the small size of the Playbook means that it fits in my jacket pocket, hides in my laptop bag and even fits in some pants back pockets.  While I have carried many devices over the years, I find that the Playbook is with me more than any other tablet because of that smaller size.

 

A Playbook runs a unique operating system called QNX - sorry, BBX - sorry, BB10 - well, whatever it is called now - that is very powerful.  You may have never heard of QNX, but it is an operating system that has been around for more than 20 years and has likely been a part of your life already.  It is fast, knows how to multitask, is (more or less) secure and is Canadian.

 

Apps are starting to emerge faster and faster on the Playbook.  The device comes with Need for Speed, Tetris, a word processor, spreadsheet, PDF and more of the basics that every tablet needs to have.  Most of those basic apps need to be purchased on any other device but with the Playbook they are included.

 

A very unique feature that is seldom mentioned is the clever way that you get music, movies, pictures and other files onto the device.  If you connect the Playbook to your computer with a USB cable, it automatically installs a bit of software and then maps itself as an X: drive.  All you do is copy the files you want onto the tablet.  You can even do the same thing through WiFi by finding the Playbook on your local network.  No extra software or complicated process is needed.  There no other device makes it this simple.

 

Plus - the high-definition screen works in sunlight, the battery lasts for days, the case has a solid rubber backing, the music and video players work for a ton of file types, the HD camera takes amazing 5 MP pictures, the web browser has Flash, multitasking is easy and the HDMI output is handy.

 

Tablets are expensive, but RIM seems to know that the Playbook was overpriced the day it went on sale.  With these current price reductions, you need to give the Playbook a test-drive before you buy any other tablet.

 

 

(Jan 4 - Corrected the comment on the camera, it is indeed 5 MP and not 8.)

Comments
by Exalted Expert / Community Ambassador ‎01-03-2012 05:50 PM - edited ‎01-03-2012 11:19 PM

Click on this link to see the latest Playbook prices...

http://www.futureshop.ca/Search/SearchResults.aspx?q=playbook%2520&sp=FS_en-CA_Site-WideSP&Facet=cFS...

 

I love the Playbook...

  • small size to fit my purse or pocket
  • excellent browser to connect to local media sites that runs on flash.  You don't need to wait for an app to see it's content.
  • stereo speakers to enjoy music, videos or multimedia.  Copy a 1080i quicktime home video to the Playbook and watch in amazement.
  • the touch bezel is really smart to navigate around tablet
  • "bridge" control of my Blackberry phone functions
  • can't wait to test the 3D capability when I get a 3D TV
  • looking forward to OS update next month for the email client

Perhaps the only complaint I have with the Playbook is how they are presented at Future Shop and competitor stores.  During Boxing week, I noticed many BC stores....

  • don't configure the Playbooks after getting them out of the box.... customers are frustrated by the AppWorld account login password screens when they swipe wanting to try it out.  The sales staff don't seem to be helpful in resolving the problem
  • Playbooks are not configured for wifi or the wifi is disabled.  This is the strength of Playbooks.  I am proud to demo Playbooks to frustrated customers (although I don't work for Future Shop)..... but am unable if the wifi is crippled on the Playbook but working for other tablets.  When I do demonstrate the features, suddenly a crowd forms as interest grows.
  • Dead batteries..... too many Playbooks are not connected to a power source.  Any tablet is a paperweight without a power source.

If there are any store managers/staff reading this, please check and fix your Playbook display models.  With this frustration customers will look at other tablets or go to competitor stores.  Future Shop needs to better demonstrate commitment to selling this product.

 

I had was when walking through W******T and there was an iPad 2 display case in May.  However all iPad 2's were sold out and someone stuck a Playbook in it's place as a joke.  Must have been staff as it was behind a secured display case.

by Trusted Expert on ‎01-03-2012 06:27 PM

I love my Playbook as well.  Normally, when I go on vacation, I don't bring my laptop with me because of baggage restrictions, and over Christmas, I'd rather use my one carry-on for gifts and basic essentials than a computer.  With the Playbook, my problems are solved and I can fit it inside my coat, or inside a small pocket in my carry-on.  With the Otterbox I got for it, I can cover the screen up and slip it into the very front pouch on my small suitcase without worry.  Something bigger would not fit the same way, especially if it were equipped with an Otterbox.

 

Love the browser - quite fast considering you are getting fully rendered webpages with a processor that, while excellent for the tablet market, pales in comparison to what you get in your standard computer.  The stereo speakers are great, especially with YouTube.  I'll admit I haven't put much music on the Playbook simply because I listen to music generally when I am walking or using public transit (so I use my mp3 player), but the video playback is amazing.  I have no trouble viewing high quality and HD video from YouTube, and there's no drops in framerate or video quality.

 

@XL,  I've felt the same way about the lack of real "showing off" of the Playbook's capabilities next to other tablets.  Most of the time, the Playbooks aren't even on, and are just sitting there, whereas the six iPads in the next aisle are on, connected to the web and are running the premier applications that are available.  Makes me a sad panda.

 

I'm glad that I picked up a Playbook, and foresee me using this tablet for a long time before I get another one.  It might not appeal to some, but I think it's very underrated for what it offers, and if it were able to get more exposure, especially in stores, we would see more of a surge in the sales of them. 

 

JB 

 

by Retired Blogger on ‎01-03-2012 11:47 PM

While all your arguments hold true about the Playbook's positives, the sad fact is that there are other tablets that have all the same features (size, battery life, screen quality, audio and video playback etc.) as the Playbook, but ALSO have a much larger app selection, and are not missing key features, such as native email or an official twitter client (though there are 3rd party ones such as TweetBook). At the end of the day app selection and developer support is what is killing the Playbook, and keeps me from recommending it, just as the same issue kept me from recommending Android Honeycomb tablets when they first came out. 

 

When RIM finally releases V.2 of the Playbook OS, with the Android app emulation, then perhaps it will be a good buy, but who knows how much longer the prodcut will be supported after that. 

 

Also the Playbook has a 5MP camera. 

by Exalted Expert / Community Ambassador on ‎01-04-2012 12:11 AM

To clarify....

  • what Android product do you think comes closest to Playbook in size?
  • what Android product do you think comes closest to the Playbook in value?  (ie $199?)

Personally I wanted the Android Slider....  But the new reduced Playbook prices was the deal maker for me. You can get two Playbooks for one Slider or iPad.

 

The (competitor) Fire looks good, but I hear the Android is no longer Android with the heavy modifications.

by Trusted Expert on ‎01-04-2012 07:47 AM

I didn't realize that Android tablets ran with full flash, java and HTML5 capabilities, as well as the processing power to load them in a reasonable time...maybe I've been misinformed (that's never happened before :smileywink:).

 

Either way, the value of the Playbook, portability of the Playbook, and the OS upgrades coming in a month's time (that will give everyone what they want and access to Android apps) are enough for me to jump on this train.  That, and I have not heard many good things about the Android 3 OS.  If I were getting an Android tablet, I would wait to see what Android 4 is like and what time frame there is for it to be released on tablets.

 

As far as the lack of email client goes, it's just as fast IMO to touch the web link for an email provider and check your email as it is to open a client.  The only difference is you won't get notifications that you have received a new email - but let's be honest here, the people that complain about this the most are the ones who already get their emails sent to their smartphones.  Is there really a time when you are using a tablet that you don't have your smartphone with you?

 

JB

 

 

by Blogger on ‎01-04-2012 07:50 AM

Consistency across devices is what I seek.  I have an iPhone, an iPod, and a MacBook so I bought an iPad.  Why would I want to duplicate app purchases across devices?

 

The PlayBook is getting rammed because of the delays in delivery and the hiccups along the way.   

 

RIM is reeling, I've already predicted the company won't last the year and with the Board scrambling to replace the CEOs, the writing is on the wall.  Why invest in a dying brand?

 

http://community.futureshop.ca/t5/Tech-Blog/5-Tech-Trends-Predictions-for-2012-RIP-RIM/ba-p/337358

by Retired Blogger on ‎01-04-2012 01:11 PM

@XL: if you are talking about size there are quite a few Android tablets the same or similar in size - the original 7" Samsung Galaxy Tab (that runs Gingerbread, so not really a Tablet OS), the new 7" Galaxy Tab Plus (not available in Canada yet), the Lenovo IdeaPad 7" (again runs Gingerbread), and Acer Iconia 7". Only slightly bigger (but yes they are not pocketable) would be the Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9" and LG Optimus Pad 8.9". The Kindle Fire is exactly the same size because it IS exactly the same hardware as the Playbook, minus a few bits, since they are both made by ODM Quanta.

 

The closest in value would be the Lenovo IdeaPad 7, which is on sale at FS for $199 too. Yes it only runs Gingerbread, but it's still a great, cheap, Android tablet from a reputable manufacture, that has a mature OS with access to thousands of quality apps.

 

@Juice0904:  Nearly all the tablets listed above run dual-core processors that are as powerful, if not more, than the Playbooks, and all of their browsers support full Flash and HTML 5. I am not sure about Java in the browser though, so you got me there. And while I do know you can check your email in the browser, are you honestly telling me that doing it that way is as good as a proper native client, designed to take advantage of the screen size, and touch input, that a tablet offers? The reason why I want email on my tablet, not just my phone, is that it is easier to read and compose long replies on a larger screen. If I want to access webmail I'd just go to my computer.

 

As for Android 4 the first Tablet receiving the update to it will the Asus Transformer Prime, that is coming soon to Future Shop, and that update is coming next week. Since it is also CES next week, there are bound to be numerous tablets announced running Android 4 in all shapes, sizes and price points.

 

Lastly, as I said in my first post, I don't disagree that the Playbook is a good tablet, and at $199 it IS a great deal. But it's still $199 spent on a dying platform, and that's money I'd rather spend on something that I know will be supported in the long term.

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