The PlayBook's tepid pre-launch reception

When we had a quick hands-on with Research in Motion's PlayBook back in CES 2011, it looked really impressive. Smooth multitasking with a lightweight body, a dual core processor, and plenty of RAM - it seemed like a pretty good new contender for the currently saturated tablet market dominated by Apple. As it heads for a launch on April 19, the early reviews of the device are rather lackluster. The responses coming from prominent tech journalists sound eerily reminscent of RIM's first attempt at a touchscreen device, the Storm. The Storm suffered from numerous software and hardware glitches upon its release, and on many occasions, owners of the device were forced to hard reset the device by removing the battery and restarting the device. This time around, the complaints rest not with bugs in the device, which runs the QNX OS, but with the lack of apps available.

The New York Times' David Pogue lists in his review what he liked about the device - the hardware, the WebOS-like navigation, wireless transfer of media, and BlackBerry Bridge. The latter complements owners of BlackBerry devices very nicely by mirroring a user's contacts, email, instant messages, and the BlackBerry's data connection - all over an encrypted connection. The device also outputs to a television nicely via a HDMI connection. And of course, there is the Flash support that gives the PlayBook and its Android-based rivals an edge over the iPad. 

But as Pogue harshly points out in his criticism of the device, there's a huge catch - if you want to read your email, it has to be over BlackBerry Bridge. Consumers that do not have any BlackBerries prior to their purchase of the PlayBook might be shocked to find out there is no native email application included on the device - at launch, anyways. The same goes for calendars, contacts, and BlackBerry Messenger. RIM has apparently forgot about including these apps on launch by banking everything on BlackBerry Bridge, although they have promised to deliver these staple apps by this summer.

Similar thoughts have been levelled in reviews conducted by the Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg and Engadget's Tim Stevens. Praise was given to the device's camera quality and the hardware build, and some mixed opinions on the device's battery life of approximately five to six hours. The complaints about the lack of apps are universal.

Although RIM has been hard at work polishing up the device before its consumer launch, it found itself in the middle of a few public relations blunders - in an interview with the BBC, RIM's co-CEO Mike Lazaridis stormed out after the interviewer asked about RIM's problems in overseas markets, calling it "unfair" that he was being asked about a "national security issue" in what was supposed to be an interview about their latest product. RIM's two CEOs were also missing from a high-profile event held by RIM on Thursday to promote the PlayBook.

The PlayBook will be available in the US and Canada at price points of $499, $599, and $699. Three capacities will be offered: 16 GB, 32 GB, and 64 GB.

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30 Comments

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I agree, all CEO's follow this protocol, what are you going to ask them and why? if they don't like what they see they won't agree to an interview. At least the RIM CEO is available for interviews.
Look at somebody like Steve Jobs, he won't agree to an interview unless you're one of his approved PR hacks like Mossberg or Pogue who will never ask the guy anything really pertinent.

rim need a decent pricing, which its one of the problem, blackberrys and playbook cost so much of what it worth...

I'd like to know how 'objective' the NYT is, given they've got an interest in the continued success of the iPad, with their app being one of Apple's marquee partnerships.

It'll be more interesting to see actual user reviews once the device hits the market. RIM's biggest saving grace is that a lot of large businesses are Blackberry houses, and this will make it an easier sell to conservative IT managers who don't want to bring a new ecosystem into their house.

I think it would be better for them to shift their touch-devices to Microsoft's mobile strategy(W8.WP7).
Just like Nokia. They should do that before it's too late.

Surely "PlayBook" is the wrong name for a device aimed at business? Or does RIM still think it stands a chance in the consumer market?

Timble said,
Surely "PlayBook" is the wrong name for a device aimed at business? Or does RIM still think it stands a chance in the consumer market?

The Playbook term is very much like the playbook of a basketball team, it is in this sense business use the term. A business knows what a playbook is already, and is not the erotic variety.

GP007 said,
RIM's looking like the next Palm in a few years.
I disagree, at least Palm had nice software and a good roadmap. RIM seems to be improvising the last few years.

homeboyrocketshoulders said,
I guess its cool to hate on RIM these days. Oh well, haters gonna hate. In the meantime, I'll be sitting here enjoying my PlayBook.

Enjoy your playbook, I am happy and satisfied with my iPad and the library of apps available that you will not find in the playbook

Unix2 said,

Enjoy your playbook, I am happy and satisfied with my iPad and the library of apps available that you will not find in the playbook

Good to hear. I'm happy having full Flash support, which makes most of those apps redundant.

homeboyrocketshoulders said,

Good to hear. I'm happy having full Flash support, which makes most of those apps redundant.

Here's my try:

I'm happy with my netbook that runs Windows 7 and thus pretty much any application that is not very CPU intensive.

homeboyrocketshoulders said,

Good to hear. I'm happy having full Flash support, which makes most of those apps redundant.

Love to see you edit movie like in iMovie or make some music like in Garageband with that lovely flash plugin

DomZ said,

Love to see you edit movie like in iMovie or make some music like in Garageband with that lovely flash plugin


Why would you want to do that on a touch device?

Reacon said,

I'm happy with my netbook that runs Windows 7 and thus pretty much any application that is not very CPU intensive.

Does it run Crysis? Seriously, tablets are superior to netbooks in everyway, including graphical processing. In a few years, I doubt the netbook market will even exist.

Flawed said,

Does it run Crysis? Seriously, tablets are superior to netbooks in everyway, including graphical processing. In a few years, I doubt the netbook market will even exist.

It runs Windows, which is all I care about. If Microsoft ever gets someone to release a W7 tablet I would die in happiness. But at least with a widely accepted OS, I have access to millions of applications as opposed to a closed store on a closed platform. Even if I had Arch on it or something, I'd still be happier than I would be with an iOS tablet where there is only Angry Birds and web browsing.

homeboyrocketshoulders said,

Good to hear. I'm happy having full Flash support, which makes most of those apps redundant.

Good luck playing flash games on a touch panel. I would love to see your face when one of them prompts for cursor/arrow keys.

homeboyrocketshoulders said,
I guess its cool to hate on RIM these days. Oh well, haters gonna hate. In the meantime, I'll be sitting here enjoying my PlayBook.

I have my Playbook on pre-order and I can't wait to use it. The fact alone that you have a fully-functioning browser with ability to output to HDMI makes it a great presenter or an A/V device. Also have to remember everyone is comparing it to Android and iOS but they are already in their third and fifth generation software-wise, while Playbook is only at 1.0. The future is bright.

iAlso, Pad and its Apps are overrated to me. I don't really care for apps and it's expensive. It's a great business model but think how much money you spent on paying for the non-free Apps over time? People say "It's only a few dollars, so no biggy if I don't like the app or plan to use it anymore..." but that adds up to and next thing you have $50 worth of apps that you have that you might not use or want anymore. Could get yourself something better with $50 than apps.

MistaT40 said,

I have my Playbook on pre-order and I can't wait to use it. The fact alone that you have a fully-functioning browser with ability to output to HDMI makes it a great presenter or an A/V device. Also have to remember everyone is comparing it to Android and iOS but they are already in their third and fifth generation software-wise, while Playbook is only at 1.0. The future is bright.

iAlso, Pad and its Apps are overrated to me. I don't really care for apps and it's expensive. It's a great business model but think how much money you spent on paying for the non-free Apps over time? People say "It's only a few dollars, so no biggy if I don't like the app or plan to use it anymore..." but that adds up to and next thing you have $50 worth of apps that you have that you might not use or want anymore. Could get yourself something better with $50 than apps.

I have an ipad 2 and love it though it's limited in many ways and im very interested to see what's in iOS 5, but this whole notion that the tablet market has reached maturity is completely false, no Android tablet has really made any inroads into the ipad.

I'm very interested to see what Windows 8 tablet is like and I think there's a market for RIM as well.

MistaT40 said,

I have my Playbook on pre-order and I can't wait to use it. The fact alone that you have a fully-functioning browser with ability to output to HDMI makes it a great presenter or an A/V device. Also have to remember everyone is comparing it to Android and iOS but they are already in their third and fifth generation software-wise, while Playbook is only at 1.0. The future is bright.

iAlso, Pad and its Apps are overrated to me. I don't really care for apps and it's expensive. It's a great business model but think how much money you spent on paying for the non-free Apps over time? People say "It's only a few dollars, so no biggy if I don't like the app or plan to use it anymore..." but that adds up to and next thing you have $50 worth of apps that you have that you might not use or want anymore. Could get yourself something better with $50 than apps.

I think the apps on my ipad 2 are very useful, but really..who cares that the ipad has 65.000 apps, I only use a small handfull of apps and really don't care to try everything in the apps store. 300.000 is really good for bragging rights but in reality doesn't mean a lot.

And I'll just stick with my ExoPC Slate, running Windows 7, and, well basically anything else I want.. not being tied down to some other "mobile" OS that may or may not have the features I'm looking for

r1ddl3r said,
It's gonna flop. Even Hp has a better offering

Well thats not hard to do, considering the only thing RIM had going for them was the GUI they ripped stole from webos. This isnt one of those normal "everybody takes from everyone", their interface is like an exact copy.

reidtheweed01 said,

Well thats not hard to do, considering the only thing RIM had going for them was the GUI they ripped stole from webos. This isnt one of those normal "everybody takes from everyone", their interface is like an exact copy.

True. I was expecting a lot more from TAT ( The Astonishing Tribe).