The Play Book

Having my hands around, what was perceived to be a game changer, here are my initial observations.

The almost oxymoronic name “Play Book” is surely not a stunner by looks. The angular edges, the darkish tint are certainly not attention grabbers. However, the logo at the rear and the classy embossed name in front are saving graces. It can easily pass by for yet another Androidish looking tablet and it is a bit of let down, considering it is the first tablet device from the stable of Research In Motion, featuring the all-new QNX-based BlackBerry Tablet OS.

The touch and feel is a refreshing change, especially from all the Blackberry’s I’ve owned since the old blue 7290. Right from that rubbery sensation you get, which you feel good and confident to hold, to the responsive 1024 X 640 display over a 7inch screen, the evolution is evident.

The 4 buttons on top are neat. The device could have probably done better with a slightly larger and better positioned, on off switch, which is a bit hard to operate – leave alone find. It is kind of stuck into the chassis. The 5 megapixel camera at the rear and the 3 MP on the front are cool, though I suspect they are not the quality of the Carl Zeiss build and require a lot of light for clarity. The Micro HDMI, the Micro USB and the 3 pronged, proprietary charging connector complete the 3 slots at the bottom. .

The 1GHz TI OMAP dual core processors, the heart behind the device, is quick and nippy. I did try opening multiple apps and switching between them and the response was not just quick but gave you that indefinable sense of stableness around it. The processor and the QNX (RIM acquired QNX software systems) OS do go about these with ease. The graphics were pleasing and the refresh rates quite quick.

I found the ‘Gestures’ inclusion pretty creative and possibly the single biggest differentiator from its other blackberry cousins. Swinging sideways switches apps, while swinging up brings up the thumbnails. Another innovative idea is the ability to pair your Blackberry smart phone with the Playbook, virtually making the playbook a larger display option for your smart phone.

The onscreen keyboard felt nice and handy, while the battery life is positioned at 8 hours (only time will tell). The copy paste feature of the keyboard layout was a great idea as well.

RIM’s yet another acquisition- DataVis, meant better integration, handling and compatibility with the Word, XL and PPT files, which it does pretty efficiently. Though early days, I had a tough time even putting in a simple formula on the XL sheet. As I said, maybe I need to get more used to it.

The form factor is another great plus. Fits neatly into a jacket pocket without straining the creases.

The sore thumb if any, seem to be on two aspects- internet only through wifi or the blackberry phone and then the Apps. Currently, the internet connectivity is only through a wifi or a sync with the blackberry mobile. This surely sticks out like a sore thumb while on the apps, compared to the ipad or the Android range to choose from, RIM currently seems eons away, atleast for now.

On the whole, my first impression after having had it for a day today –

A good start by RIM, but not a game changer . . . . at least, not for now.

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