Where the Apple iPad leads, others must surely follow and last week Blackberry launched the Playbook, its new 7” Android tablet. The Playbook uses RIM’s own user friendly QNX operating system (what the World Wide Web runs on). You simply swipe-to-wake it, has a 1 GHz dual-core processor with 1 GB RAM, simultaneous multitasking allowing apps to run simultaneously and in real time, GPS capability, accelerometer, 6-axis motion sensing (gyroscope) and digital compass. All pretty impressive stuff right? And with adverts focusing on the ability to play Flash videos, is there anything else that separates this from every other tablet out there?
Well yes and no. There are things to like about the Playbook. The design of the tablet is good, with no buttons or controls like the iPad, just a touch sensitive screen which you swipe to wake up and activate. Apps appear on the screen which you simply touch to open or flick with your finger to close. However, a tablet with great hardware is one thing but one with hardly any apps is another. The great thing about the iPad2, in particular, is the huge range of apps, some even free that go with the tablet. With the Playbook it is seriously lacking. Most downloadable apps are games and the quality is shocking at best and overpriced. Apps you would expect as standard to be available are not, for instance there is no Twitter, no Google, no Spotify, no Kindle, no current online newspapers, nothing. Oh there is Facebook. And as Playbook runs off QNX and not Blackberry OS, you cannot even bring over Blackberry apps.
Another problem is that the Playbook currently cannot handle emails or calender applications. So, if you want to send an email you have to connect the Playbook to your Blackberry via Bluetooth and then use it for these basic functions. In this day and age who is going to want to waste time doing that? And if you don’t have a Blackberry phone? Well you can’t email then on the Playbook.
It seems that in an attempt to capture some of the market that Apple has rightly won over, Blackberry have released the Playbook way too early. At present, this tablet is useful for salesmen who want to impress with polished presentations and not much else. If Blackberry had waited a few months until their apps store was a little bit fuller and they had sorted out the email function, we would all be a bit more excited.