BlackBerry PlayBook: One month later

Posted by CR H. on May 24, 2011

closeThis post was published 3 years 6 months 5 days ago which may make its actuality or expire date not be valid anymore. This site is not responsible for any misunderstanding.
It’s been almost a month since we posted our full PlayBook review, and since then RIM has released a new OS, some new apps, and enabled BBM over Bridge. We thought this would be a good time to give our quick thoughts on the latest updates and the state of RIM’s tablet.

First up is the latest PlayBook OS, version 1.0.3.1868. Launched only a few days after our full review went live, we’ve had plenty of time to give the OS a thorough look. The biggest change with the latest OS is BBM over Bridge, which we think is fantastic. The BBM client on the PlayBook is excellent and really takes advantage of the larger screen size. We can’t wait until BBM can run on its own with the PlayBook, if RIM ever gets around to enabling that functionality. The ability to add browser bookmarks on the home screen was also introduced, which is another welcome addition.

Unfortunately, battery life has taken a turn for the worse with this latest OS, something which we’ve seen many others echo on Twitter. But while the battery life isn’t great, our PlayBook’s battery meter now correctly goes to 100% while charging. Unfortunately you still can’t charge with the PlayBook turned off, which we still find quite annoying.

Next up is the launch of RIM’s own Facebook app for the PlayBook, which is built on Adobe’s Air platform. We think the app is excellently done and really shows up what an Air-built app can do with the PlayBook’s OS. The app loads quickly, looks excellent (seriously – the UI is awesome), and every major piece of Facebook functionality is present, including the ability to chat with your friends. We hope RIM builds a native Twitter client, which we suspect would be very awesome going by the Facebook app.

Last, and most certainly the least, is the launch of a native video calling app from RIM. We were fortunate enough to receive two PlayBooks from RIM so we had a chance to try out the app. Unfortunately the trial didn’t go so well… Adding contacts is very straightforward, and starting calls is very easy. But once you’re in a call, the problems are numerous. Video and audio would be crystal clear on both ends of the call for about a minute before video would completely freeze. Audio would continue to work, but video was frozen. Switching cameras sometimes resolved the problem, but we would almost always get stuck on the rear camera with no ability to switch back to the front-facing camera.

Quiting the app completely was the only way to end a call most of the time. Upon relaunching the app, we would not be able to actually do anything. Rebooting the PlayBook would solve that issue, but is extremely annoying. The video calling app is also a huge battery hog, more so than we ever expected.

So, do we think different about the PlayBook almost a month after fire reviewing it? No, not really. We do appreciate the addition of BBM over Bridge, as well as an official Facebook app, but both of these items are really things which should have been included in the launch OS. RIM is still playing catch up. There is still no native email/contacts/calendar solution, and we are still weeks away from the launch of the PlayBook NDK. App World is still generally bare of good apps, and we don’t see that changing until RIM drums up more developer support – which we hope the NDK launch later in the summer will do. Unfortunately, we still can’t recommend the PlayBook to anyone big the biggest BlackBerry fans. At this point, HP/Palm’s TouchPad tablet may very well launch before PlayBook owners see native email, BBM, or an App World filled with great apps. And that says a lot about the state of RIM and their BlackBerry brand, we think.

light yaki

CR H. (11 Posts) - Website | Twitter | Facebook


CR H. is avid about all things technology, especially in the mobile space. Credit for his love of technology goes to his mom who signed him up for ComputerTots at his daycare. CR is currently a full time student in Baltimore, MD working towards a bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems. Student by day and IT consultant by night, CR surrounds himself with technology whenever possible. He’s especially fond of mobile phones, generally going through a device per month, but can always be found with at least one iPhone. His email is: CR(at)mobilitysite(dot)com, and you can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/MRCUR

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  • dindak

    I disagree. We have both an iPad and a Playbook. For the web and for traveling, I much prefer Playbook. I never do e-mail on either pad, I think too much is made of that issue.

  • Jimcmf

    Your comments are RIM bashing. I have  PlayBook, and just love it.
    Re-due you article immediately.

  • dindak

    I disagree. We have both an iPad and a Playbook. For the web and for traveling, I much prefer Playbook. I never do e-mail on either pad, I think too much is made of that issue.

  • useruser10

    Screw off RIM astroturfer.

  • useruser10

    Screw off RIM astroturfer.

  • Giovanni64

    The Jobsian Internet will take over the Internet. 
    A huge App store it shall become.
    Apple makes very nice devices, but they lock you into iTunes. And their phones and pads force you to purchase apps to access routine features of the internet that are usually free on connected desktops. Their marketing is slick, they can convince their loyal customers that not supporting Flash and offering apps for sale as a substitute is better for them.  If RIM was able to find a way to make Flash run decently on their Playbook then we know Jobs and Apple could have done the same for the iPads… it's just that they didn't want to.

  • Giovanni64

    The Jobsian Internet will take over the Internet. 
    A huge App store it shall become.
    Apple makes very nice devices, but they lock you into iTunes. And their phones and pads force you to purchase apps to access routine features of the internet that are usually free on connected desktops. Their marketing is slick, they can convince their loyal customers that not supporting Flash and offering apps for sale as a substitute is better for them.  If RIM was able to find a way to make Flash run decently on their Playbook then we know Jobs and Apple could have done the same for the iPads… it's just that they didn't want to.

  • Lorit

    I am so sick of hearing complaints about RIM not including calendar, email etc integration. AT THIS TIME that access is provided through tethering, people are making it seem like these features are not available at all. Quite frankly, if you are not a blackberry user then maybe the playbook isn't for you and you can go with the highly overrated Ipad 2 which still (in it's second version) lacks many of the capabilities that the PB can do in it's first version, or any number of similar products on the market…while I agree that RIM may have overlooked these type of details, and were rushing to get the product released, there have been and are updates on the way that will increase the PB's functionality. As far as apps complainers- we all know that they are coming, and can't wait to hear what has to be said when Android apps are available. If you prefer to have tons and tons of repetitive apps at your disposal versus a solid gadget that can run flash, amazing mutli-tasking ability (etc) then go with the Ipad, but please stop complaining about the little things that we know will be taken care of with future updates. I am very happy with my PB, can't wait for the updates, but will wait patiently and quietly WITHOUT complaint.

  • Lorit

    I am so sick of hearing complaints about RIM not including calendar, email etc integration. AT THIS TIME that access is provided through tethering, people are making it seem like these features are not available at all. Quite frankly, if you are not a blackberry user then maybe the playbook isn't for you and you can go with the highly overrated Ipad 2 which still (in it's second version) lacks many of the capabilities that the PB can do in it's first version, or any number of similar products on the market…while I agree that RIM may have overlooked these type of details, and were rushing to get the product released, there have been and are updates on the way that will increase the PB's functionality. As far as apps complainers- we all know that they are coming, and can't wait to hear what has to be said when Android apps are available. If you prefer to have tons and tons of repetitive apps at your disposal versus a solid gadget that can run flash, amazing mutli-tasking ability (etc) then go with the Ipad, but please stop complaining about the little things that we know will be taken care of with future updates. I am very happy with my PB, can't wait for the updates, but will wait patiently and quietly WITHOUT complaint.

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