THE PLAYBOOK TABLET from Research in Motion (RIM) is a neat and stylish bit of kit and its entertainment potential delighted us.
Though we don't know yet when the Playbook will be available, The INQUIRER was impressed with its first proper go with the device. The tablet is still in development and was running an older version of the Blackberry tablet operating system than will be preloaded at launch.
The Playbook has a stylish design, feels well made and is nice and light. It's small with its 7-inch LCD screen and seems smaller than Samsung's Galaxy Tab, though that is also a 7-inch tablet. The Blackberry tablet device is easy to hold with one hand in various positions and use the screen with the other comfortably. This makes it an extremely portable device.
The 1GHz dual-core processor and 1GB RAM mean that the device runs very smoothly and it didn't struggle with multi-tasking in our experience. The high definition display is nice and clear with good viewing angles. The way you navigate around the Playbook's OS is based around swipe gestures, which you perform using the bezel around the screen. Though at first these weren't completely intuitive we found them easy to pick up with only a little instruction.
The Playbook supports Flash 10.1, a handy feature for web browsing, with RIM boasting that the web experience on the Playbook is one of its best features. The test unit we were given did, however, fail to cope with the BBC's Iplayer website, which crashed the tablet. We assume that the final version of the Blackberry OS loaded on the Playbook will have bugs like this ironed out.
RIM has teamed up with EA Games, which has produced a version of Need for Speed especially for the Playbook that uses the sensors in the tablet to drive and steer the car. While the graphics were very impressive, the way the game rotates the picture on screen as you steer the car created an uncomfortable, headache-inducing experience for us, though some may like it.
Blackberry owners will be attracted to the Playbook due to its ability to tether to a Blackberry smartphone via Bluetooth to sync and access a number of features such as email, though The INQUIRER wasn't able to test these features because they weren't present on the prototype model we tested.
Though RIM says that the tablet is designed for business applications and it has a solid history with those, the entertainment and media features were prominent while business functions weren't present during testing but are promised for launch. If these features do arrive and work as well as RIM says they will, then the Blackberry Playbook tablet could turn out to be a great combination of work and play.
The dual cameras are welcome features of the Playbook, which has a 3MP front facing camera and a 5MP rear facing camera. The few test photos that The INQUIRER took with the rear camera were impressively sharp and bright. µ