Hands-on: BlackBerry Playbook

Every CES seems to have a theme, the focus for last year was on 3DTVs, this year seems to be tablets. With almost every company attempting to cash in on Apple's successful iPad, the market will soon be flooded with options from around the world, and just about every hardware and software maker.

BlackBerry unveiled their PlayBook a few months back, but this was really the first time consumers were able to get their hands on the device. Although this is still just a prototype device and not the final version, the device has managed to surprise some consumers.

Today, I got a chance to play with the BlackBerry Playbook, which actually surprised me how good it is. Using a number of tablets this week, BlackBerry seems to have the most impressive table-OS and hardware. The lightweight tablet is only 400g, has a really powerful dual-core 1Ghz processor with 1GB of RAM. The tablet was very responsive, felt very solid and reliable, and just looked amazing. Multi-tasking on this device was shockingly good. As you'll notice in the video, you can have an HD video, game, web page and others things running at the same time without any lag.

When it comes to tablets, I strongly believe the BlackBerry PlayBook will be a strong competitor in the market. Although the battery life hasn't been confirmed for this device just yet, the price, with a starting point of $399 for the 8GB model. The PlayBook will run a specially modified version of BlackBerry OS, which offers true multi-tasking, not task switching, a stylish swipe control feature that exits out of applications and brings up the multi-tasking menu.

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Im impressed, i think ill switch from my chinese knock off to this when its available in the UK
It'll definately be a great companion to my current blackberry

Design is rather basic. OS not too sure about. It's kinda odd having a tablet with a screen resolution only a fraction above iphone and android devices but I guess that's how they get the "incredible performance" out just like having a Core i7 980X and 5970 running at 1024x768.

While the multitasking is impressive it stil can't do anything different then the ipad, in that you can only interact with one App at the time, the downside is reduced battery life. I think Apple must have made the decision battery life was more important while Rim went the other way.

It has a magnetic charger, didn't Apple patent that? Are we going to see another round of patent sueing?

evo_spook said,
While the multitasking is impressive it stil can't do anything different then the ipad, in that you can only interact with one App at the time, the downside is reduced battery life. I think Apple must have made the decision battery life was more important while Rim went the other way.

It has a magnetic charger, didn't Apple patent that? Are we going to see another round of patent sueing?

Flash support makes a difference for the web experience.

That it is patented by someone doesn't mean no one else can use it. Everybody can use it as long as they pay the patent fees.

Gladiatorus said,
iPad killer???
While the iPad will always have the plus of being an Apple gadget, this is the first time i'd say Yes, it's a proper iPad competitor.

Northgrove said,

No. While it may be competitive, it won't kill the iPad.

Correct. Any (and every) tablet that runs Windows 7 (and thus can be used to run real software application) is an iPad killer.

it has quake 3 on it!!!!!!

Vid was cut when he was talking about bat life..so how much is it expected to be?

qdave said,
it has quake 3 on it!!!!!!

Vid was cut when he was talking about bat life..so how much is it expected to be?

Pretty bad (1-2 hours) I guess. True multitasking with that kind of graphics would kill any battery pretty quickly. Ultimately, it depends on what you do with it. If you're browsing the Interwebs, or doing e-mail or editing documents or reading a book, it would last longer just like the iPad.

Jebadiah said,
Pretty bad (1-2 hours) I guess. True multitasking with that kind of graphics would kill any battery pretty quickly. Ultimately, it depends on what you do with it. If you're browsing the Interwebs, or doing e-mail or editing documents or reading a book, it would last longer just like the iPad.

Ridiculous. RIM has already said that it's planned to last a full day's work, so effectively it should run for 7-8 hours. RIM products always had excellent battery life, I expect this to be no different.

dnagroove said,

Ridiculous. RIM has already said that it's planned to last a full day's work, so effectively it should run for 7-8 hours. RIM products always had excellent battery life, I expect this to be no different.

Except the OS animations is all Adobe flash based driven. It'll suck the juice right out of that battery.

Billus said,
Impressive and a damn sexy UI! I'm shocked that it's from Blackberry. Welcome back.

Don't worry RIM didn't make the OS they bought it off another company, that explains why its awesome

thealexweb said,

Don't worry RIM didn't make the OS they bought it off another company, that explains why its awesome


That's because BlackBerry Playbook is actually made by QNX Software Systems.

No portrait view I gather? That's disappointing for books and web among others. It looks fast and smooth but battery is quite important in a tablet. Also I haven't seen how you can manage tasks and close them? or is it so awesome it can run dozens of apps andhd video!?

Xero said,
No portrait view I gather? That's disappointing for books and web among others. It looks fast and smooth but battery is quite important in a tablet. Also I haven't seen how you can manage tasks and close them? or is it so awesome it can run dozens of apps andhd video!?

It does not need a portrait veiw for apps that will specifically use it, just program it shifted 90 degrees- since it's not a monitor mounted users will be able to move to whichever orientation it's displayed. my ipad did this all the time.

Note that 1024x600 is NOT "HD video". It isn't even 720p.

But the tablet still looks great. But it still suffers from the same problem the iPad does...won't run Windows or any REAL software applications. Just mini apps.

Portrait view is coming I heard. The downside of this is they are still working on battery life and portrait view, this thing must be months away from being released, April-May anyone?

excalpius said,
Note that 1024x600 is NOT "HD video". It isn't even 720p.

But the tablet still looks great. But it still suffers from the same problem the iPad does...won't run Windows or any REAL software applications. Just mini apps.

The actual resolution only tells part of the story. What matters is the pixel density. The resolution here can provide a crisper picture than a large HDTV.

excalpius said,
Note that 1024x600 is NOT "HD video". It isn't even 720p.

But the tablet still looks great. But it still suffers from the same problem the iPad does...won't run Windows or any REAL software applications. Just mini apps.

Heh I know it's not HD. They just brag about it all the time so I mentioned it. I really don't think video playing in the background is a "feature". It should pause so you don't miss anything.

As for "mini apps" you say it's like a bad thing. Tablets aren't meant to be full desktops and thankfully so. Desktops tend to be overly complex. Tablet computing is a chance to start with a clean slate (hehe) and re-imagine things simpler and easier. Microsoft needs to learn this, sooner than later.

Good news about portrait view coming. Anyone who says it's not needed has never really used a tablet. There are many many good uses for portrait view. Although it's not "needed" at a homescreen level. Btw, I didn't mention it, but the touch sensitive bezel is genius. Hope the iPad 2 supports this.

Bengal34 said,

The actual resolution only tells part of the story. What matters is the pixel density. The resolution here can provide a crisper picture than a large HDTV.

Only if you define crisper as smaller...ahem.

Hmm, not as snappy as I'd expected, but hey... Still a bit yet.

Looks good none the less, let's hope they can gain as much traction as the iPad.

Sevan said,
Hmm, not as snappy as I'd expected, but hey... Still a bit yet.

Looks good none the less, let's hope they can gain as much traction as the iPad.

That's the first time I've seen anyone say that about the Playbook on any forum thus far. How fast exactly did you expect it to be? Everyone else seems surprised how fast it is.

Sevan said,
Hmm, not as snappy as I'd expected, but hey... Still a bit yet.

Looks good none the less, let's hope they can gain as much traction as the iPad.

Not sure how it could have been any faster.

Sevan said,
Hmm, not as snappy as I'd expected, but hey... Still a bit yet.

Looks good none the less, let's hope they can gain as much traction as the iPad.

Completely untrue, worst comment ever!

Sevan said,
Hmm, not as snappy as I'd expected, but hey... Still a bit yet.

Looks good none the less, let's hope they can gain as much traction as the iPad.

there's always a clueless salami out there playing rich boy...

Sevan said,
Hmm, not as snappy as I'd expected, but hey... Still a bit yet.

Looks good none the less, let's hope they can gain as much traction as the iPad.


Sevan said,
Hmm, not as snappy as I'd expected, but hey... Still a bit yet.

Looks good none the less, let's hope they can gain as much traction as the iPad.


In response to my initial post, it IS a pee-production unit.

Sevan said,
In response to my initial post, it IS a pee-production unit.

Indeed, this demo must have really had everyone else peeing their pants!

warwagon said,

Not sure how it could have been any faster.


the sony pictures trailer that was playing in the browser was choppy. I hope it can play smooth without the other programs running in the background, otherwise whats the point of flash if its going to play videos choppy.

rm20010 said,
Looks awesome, and very smooth!
Are you sure it's 100 grams? If it is, it means it's lighter than iPod Touch 4g which is 101 gram!

FMH said,
Are you sure it's 100 grams? If it is, it means it's lighter than iPod Touch 4g which is 101 gram!

The guy in the video says 400g, must be a typo