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Category: Hardware Published on Monday, 16 May 2011

BlackBerry PlayBook: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

I am giddy with anticipation!

Actually my mood has gone from anger (over the lack of Angry Birds) to anticipatory (over the possibility of BlackBerry climbing aboard the Android bandwagon).

The new BlackBerry PlayBook ($499 for 16GB, $599 for 32GB and $699 for 64GB) from Research in Motion (RIM) has hit the market, promising to be the next "iPad killer."

Boasting a beautiful seven-inch display and weighing in at less than a pound, the new tablet has a definite advantage over its larger competitors. BUT, BlackBerry dealt itself a deadly blow by not including Android apps in the initial Playbook release, instead giving users access to App World, which contains applications exclusively developed for BlackBerry.

But let us not dwell on the bad and the ugly and, instead, focus on the good.

Realizing their mistake, the folks at RIM have announced that they will be joining the Android universe this summer. They also dealt a blow to Apple by offering a free Facebook app, which is not available on the iPad. IPad users, instead, have to access their Facebook pages the old fashioned way by using the tablet's web browser.

In addition, the PlayBook offers:

  • HDMI output at 1080p
  • Built-in stereo speakers that deliver decent sound for a unit this size.
  • 1GB of RAM
  • Two cameras: a 5 megapixel camera facing out to take pictures and a 3 megapixel front-facing camera for video conferencing, etc.
  • Support for Adobe Flash 10.1 and HTMLS.
  • A 1024 x 600 WSVGA display.
  • Connectivity through Wi-Fi, BlackBerry Bridge or tethering.

Overall, I really like the PlayBook and believe, once it delivers on its promise to join the Android alliance, it will easily become the "gotta have it" tablet.

Also, the Blackberry Bridge gives BlackBerry smartphone users the added advantage to wirelessly link their phone apps with the tablet.

I've also been playing with a few accessories designed to protect the PlayBook, including a Truss Case/Stand ($44.99) from Targus, TRU: Protection HD Antiglare Screen Filters ($29.99), a silicone shell skin ($29.99) and a neoprene sleeve ($29.99), both of which can be purchased via the Blackberry website.

The Targus case has a built-in stand enabling you to set the PlayBook on a table or other surface and stand it up at four different viewing angles. It also features a leather cover, with a soft fabric lining that won’t scratch the tablet's screen. There's also a wrap-around band that holds the case closed when you aren't using it.

The antiglare filters are a must-have for any portable device with a screen. The ones I used were cut to fit the PlayBook's display and featured a matte finish to cut down on glare, fingerprints and smudges.

The silicone shell skin fits snugly to the back of the PlayBook. Besides adding a bit of color to the tablet (mine was a bright red), it protects the unit from normal, day-to-day abuse. It also has cut-outs to conform to all of the PlayBook's controls and inputs.

The neoprene sleeve resembles the sleeve that comes in the box with the PlayBook. It's basically a soft slipcase that is designed to snugly fit around the tablet, protecting it from dings and scratches.

For more information, check out the RIM website at http://www.RIM.com.

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Attention Facebook users: Check out Michael Berman's Jocgeek fan page at www.facebook.com/jocgeek, or follow him on Twitter @jocgeek.  You can also contact him via email at jocgeek@earthlink.net.  Mike's blog can also be found on the Huffington Post website at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-l-berman/.