BlackBerry PlayBook Review
|| Review: June 2011
In a nutshell: The BlackBerry
PlayBook has a powerful dual-core processor at its heart, a
vivid 7 inch display and an intuitive gesture-based multitouch
user interface. It connects securely to a BlackBerry smartphone
for email access, and offers Full HD video calling over Wi-Fi.
But its lack of 3G and very poor choice of apps count against
Update (Feb 2012): The price of the PlayBook has been slashed,
making it one of the cheapest tablets around. And the release of OS
2.0 this month adds native email support and opens the door for greater
choice of apps. It's looking like a better deal now.
The PlayBook sounds like something out of kindergarten, but in fact
it's BlackBerry's first tablet. With a 7 inch screen, the PlayBook is
comparable in size to the Samsung Galaxy
Tab and the HTC Flyer. It feels very
much like a quality product, and is absolutely rock solid. It's rather
square too, in contrast to the usual curved BlackBerry style, but nice
and slim at just 10mm thickness. Understated, you might say.
Have no doubt about it: the PlayBook is a serious player in the tablet
world. There's stiff competition out there from Apple and Android, but
BlackBerry have taken the bull by the horns and released a product that
brings genuine choice to the market. Running a new gestural-based operating
system - BlackBerry Tablet OS, based on QNX - the PlayBook takes a little
getting used to. For example, to close an app, you swipe upwards to
dismiss it. Apps live in mini screens on the home page, and you swipe
between them. It's completely intuitive after a short while, and more
fluid than the "press this button now" style of Android.
The 7 inch screen with a resolution of 1024 x 600 pixels is nothing
special in tablet land, but in the flesh we found the screen size and
resolution to be perfectly adequate for the job, and the colour depth
is rich and detailed. The capacitive screen is nicely responsive and
supports 4-finger multi-touch zooming, which comes into its own particularly
when viewing web pages, but can be used to control the view in other
apps as well. The PlayBook is equipped with some serious power - a dual-core
1GHz processor plus a dedicated graphics processor and a massive 1GB
of RAM - making it as fast as any tablet we've tested. This certainly
shows up when using the user interface, with some lovely transitions
between apps, and stutter-free video playback. Curiously though, there's
a noticeable lag when rotating between portrait and landscape modes,
with the accelerometer sometimes completely failing to detect that the
device has been turned.
There are never going to be as many apps available for the PlayBook
as there are for the iPad. Core apps like the music player, ebook reader,
Adobe reader and a document reader for Word, PowerPoint and Excel spreadsheets
are pre-installed. More are in the pipeline, and some kind of Android
compatibility is proposed, but these are not here now. There are a surprising
number of games available, but really we don't see the PlayBook as a
Web browsing is a joy on the PlayBook. The 7 inch screen is just big
enough to display most web pages in full size, and you can easily resize
the page with the 4-finger multi-touch control. BBC iPlayer plays well
and there's full support for Flash 10.1 and HTML5. You can play flash
games and there's a youtube app, although youtube videos play perfectly
well through the browser itself. The super-fast processor can handle
anything the web can throw at it. We'll stick our necks out and say
that this web browser is as good as anything we've seen.
There are two cameras on the PlayBook - a 5 megapixel rear-facing one
and a 3 megapixel front-facing camera, both with autofocus. Surprisingly
both cameras are capable of recording 1080p Full HD video, and you can
use the front-facing camera for video calling, but only over Wi-Fi with
other PlayBook users. There's no flash on either, but that doesn't bother
us, as we'd never use a tablet for serious photography anyway.
Audio quality can't be faulted. The device has stereo speakers (as
well as stereo microphones for recording) and you can plug in a set
of stereo headphones using a 3.5mm connection.
GPS capability is supported with Bing Maps, which we don't like as
much as Google Maps, but it's OK.
When it comes to connectivity, the BlackBerry PlayBook offers Wi-Fi,
Bluetooth and USB. Additionally there's a HDMI port which is capable
of streaming video in 1080p Full HD format to a compatible TV. There's
no 3G support in the PlayBook, so you have to rely on a Wi-Fi network
for connectivity. Alternatively you can wirelessly connect the PlayBook
to your BlackBerry smartphone using BlackBerry Bridge. This lets you
access email, Messenger, contacts, etc from your phone on the large
display of the PlayBook.
Battery life is similar to other tablets. Depending on usage, you should
manage between 1 and 2 days between charges.
So, the PlayBook. It has rather a split personality. On one hand is
the silly name and the insistence by RIM to push the consumer-focused
aspects of the device, which are frankly very poor when compared with
the iPad 2. On the other hand is the
understated look and feel, the heavy-duty hardware and OS, the productivity
tools and BlackBerry Bridge connectivity. Really, this ought to be called
the BlackBerry WorkBook. To get the most out of it you need to pair
it with a BlackBerry smartphone, make use of its secure corporate email
functionality, its document viewer and its ability to display HD PowerPoint
presentations whilst simultaneously multitasking other business apps.
As a work device for an existing BlackBerry user, it makes a great deal
of sense, but as a consumer tablet for the mass market it makes little
sense at all.
Features of the BlackBerry PlayBook include:
- Operating system: BlackBerry Tablet OS
- Display: 7.0 inch capacitive touchscreen with 600 x 1024 pixels
- 5 megapixel 1080p HD rear-facing camera
- 3 megapixel 1080p HD forward-facing camera for video calling
- Media player
- Messaging: email, compatible with BlackBerry Enterprise Server
- GPS capability with digital compass and Bing Maps
- Stereo speakers and stereo microphones
- Internet: Webkit browser with Flash 10.1 support, BBC iPlayer, YouTube
- PDF reader, document viewer (PPT, DOC, and XLS formats)
- Processor: 1GHz dual core
- Memory: 16GB, 32GB or 64GB
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n), Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR, micro
USB, 3.5mm headphone jack, HDMI video output
- Size: 194 x 130 x 10.0 mm
- Weight: 425g
BlackBerry PlayBook User Reviews
Love this product? Hate it? Please share your experiences to help other
people choose the product that's best for them. Please do not review
this product if you have not used it. This is a review site, not a forum,
so please don't just ask questions. Please do not use swear words or
offensive language, and please, no advertising!
Average rating from 23 reviews:
Reviewed by stuart walton from England on 21st
Lovely build quality, sound and camera. Terrible Os and customer support.
My charging point broke and Blackberry Support were woeful. Sold on
eBay now. Never again. The app market is prehistoric too.
Reviewed by stephen from England on 13th Nov 2012
The playbook took 4 hours to get set up with wi-fi connection. Had to
select my country from dropdown list but took 10 attempts to get dropdown
to appear. Every stage of set up was hard work. Not one piece of written
information with device, just one line on box saying wi-fi needed to
set up. In that case why was it so difficult.
Web Page loading is slow, quite often back button so have to come out
and go back to history to get back one page.
I want to like the playbook but most of the time it is like trying to
run on concealed porridge.
Camera and screen resolution are great but nothing else to recommend
Reply by Stephen from England on 14th
Sorry about spelling in review. Predictive spelling in PlayBook is terrible.
Congealed not concealed. Try typing with-fi - see it does that rather
than wi-fi, and this with a dedicated with-fi device. Are all Canadians
stupid? I think not, just the ones RIM employs. Wi-fi times out at one
hour on my playbook, have to log in again. It refuses to remember my
email address - no autofill after first 2 letters. My mid range Samsung
smartphone is so much easier, and I don't evenlike it that much.
Reviewed by Elle from England on 3rd Oct 2012
I've had my playbook for 9 months & I love it, I use it daily & do the
majority of my web browsing on it. Its great for facebook, checking
e-mails, watching TV, youtue as well as downloading games and other
I did have an issue with the charger, I somehow managed to damage the
pins in the charger port, however a purchase of a rapid travel charger
soon sorted that problem. The rapid charger is bulkier and less portable
than the regular charge so I'm not sure why its a "travel" charger,
however the magnetic connectors are great and it charges in super quick
Reviewed by king from uk on 25th Aug 2012
blackberry playbook for 129 pounds is a clear bargain for a 64 gb version.
Reviewed by Leonard di Falco from Vatican City on
9th Aug 2012
I have 2playbooks,64GB for work and 32GB for private using.never complain
about them,perfectory.I am blackberry user for ages,BB is mark of best
Reviewed by reza from uk on 22nd Apr 2012
I'm working with this machine for a wile now.
every thing is OK about it and what you expect of a tablet with this
it dos what it says it would do.
the only flaw is lack of compatibility with android which it has promised
to be sort out.
and the other thing is lack of support for eastern fonts like Arabic
Reviewed by Dr Droidberg from UK on 23rd Mar 2012
£169 for the 16GB PlayBook is an absolute steal. I don't regret buying
mine. If you want a tablet PC but don't want to splash out on an iPad
or Galaxy Tab, this is the way to go.
Reviewed by lalaaf from africa on 15th Mar 2012
its rubbish mine broke on the 4th day i got it!
Reviewed by Chris from England on 8th Mar 2012
Got my playbook a couple of days ago and I'm over the moon with it.
For a while I was dead set against getting a tablet thinking they were
totally pointless, what made me take the plunge was a Kindle funnily
enough. I wanted an e-reader and I looked at it in PC World, it was
£89, then I noticed a Playbook was only £169 and that it was only slightly
bigger than the kindle. I decided that for the price I would be getting
a lot for the money, it does everything my laptop can do and more, and
it can be used as an e-reader, a good one at that. It's so good at surfing
the web that my laptop is now defunct. I'm glad I chose this rather
than any other tablet the size is perfect. I've been on a course this
week and I've already found it useful for typing up my notes, creating
flow charts and spreadsheets. Brilliant go buy one.
Reviewed by Anita from Uk on 4th Mar 2012
Bought for £169 this week. I think it's brilliant. As a woman it's ideal
as it is neat and fits in your handbag. It feels and look top class.
I tether it with my iPhone while out and about with no probs at all.
This is free on O2. I am going into hospital soon and look forward to
using it. Great for reading books. Would quite like a mouse for it.
But as no USB I think this will be a problem. I have brought a leather
cover for it and simple love it. I don't really use the games because
I have the iPhone. And I must admit they do look pretty poor. But for
the price I think it's a great bit of kit. I had an iPad 2 but sold
it because I thought I was very expensive and too big to just put in
your bag. Go and buy I today :)
Reviewed by al's toy barn from toystory on 4th
dam thing wont pause on youtube (sometimes)
Reviewed by simon from Uk on 3rd Mar 2012
As before, a superb bit of kit for the price. And I've linked it via
bluetooth to my cheap Nokia phone that supports tethering so can keep
working on the move.
Was considering an iPod touch for music & video. This does just the
same with twice the screen real estate. Go for it, and don't waste time
on a posh case - the neoprene sleeve is snug and protective...
Reviewed by David from England on 18th Feb 2012
Considered buying one of the cheap Android tabs but decided to go for
a quality tab and bought the 32GB version of the Playbook. Knew the
software limitations but this product still delights me. Eagerly awaiting
the OS update next week (21st Feb). For £199 this is a seriously good
bit of kit. Have a rapid charger dock by bedside and keep tab turned
on all the time, just put it in the dock when battery starts getting
low. Thoroughly recommended.
Reviewed by andrea from UK on 14th Feb 2012
this is really good I'm usingit now to write this, it is clearly as
good as an ipad if you exclude the game side as it has blackberry app
world which does not beat android at all.
Reviewed by elisabeth from uk on 4th Feb 2012
Got the 64gb one this week after seeing the big price drops in them.
Am really pleased with it. you either have the option to connect to
the internet by either wifi, or via bluetooth to a blackberry phone,
so i know it'll be great when on the move. it may be one of the smallest
tablets but it is definitely big enough to do its job. i'm actually
glad it's not big because it'll fit in my handbag! i'd definitely recommend
it to any blackberry user, and even if you haven't got a blackberry
phone then you can still use it on wifi alone, or even connect to your
friend's phone if you ask them nicely!
Reviewed by TonyJ from UK on 20th Jan 2012
Had the playbook for over a week now and have to say it was a good buy.
Comparing it to my wife's ipad I believe it is just as good. Great at
surfing the net. Quality screen which is fantastic watching the videos.
The only down side I can see is the number of apps. If you want a tablet
that is quick, neat looking and a good bit of kit you need to consider
this especially at the reduced price.
Reviewed by Craig Dawes from United Kingdom on
10th Jan 2012
I have had my playbook for around 8 months now and find it a joy to
use. Battery life is excellent, picture and sound are the best I have
seen on a tablet and the speed of the thing. I opted for the 64GB so
pay a fortune for it, considering they have lowered the prices now.
People are complaining about viseo calling, or the lack of.. Go on the
web and google imo or skype on blackberry playbook - this will give
you a site that is excellent for video calling on most platforms, ICQ,
Skype, Windows live to name but a few. One down side it the amoutn of
time to re charge fully! but do overnight and sorted. I think one nice
thing RIM could have done was put an email client on there that would
work without having to be connected to your BB.
Reviewed by KELLY from ENGLAND on 5th Jan 2012
YOU MUST ASK WHY THE BLACKBERRY PLAYBOOK IS QUIET EXPENSIVE. YOU MAY
ASK WHY THE BLACKBERRY PLAYBOOK IS SO CHEAP AND WHAT'S THE CATCH. BUT
THE BLACKBERRY TABLET HAS EVERYTHING YOU REALLY NEED LIKE AT BACK A
FORWARD CAMERA SO IT'S EASIERE TO TAKE PICTURES,YOU CAN GO ON UTUBE
AND IPLAYER AND HAVE BBM AND OTHER E-MAIL. BUT WHY IS IT SO CHEAP? THIS
REASON IS BECAUSE THE SCREEN IS QUIET SMALL AND YOU CAN'T GET AS GOOD
APP AS YOU MAY HOPE FOR. BUT THE STUFF THAT I SAID ABOUT THE BLACKBERRY
PLAYBOOK IS SIMILAR TO THE IPAD 2 BUT THE ONLY DIFFERNCE IS THE IPAD
IS OVER £200 POUNDS! SO WHAT'S CHOICE I KNOW I LOVE MY BLACKBERRY PLAYBOOK
SO WHY DON'T YOU GO TO YOUR NEARERST STORE AND GO TODAY!!
Reviewed by Muddie from UK on 4th Jan 2012
i have had the playbook for two weeks now and i find it is a joy to
use... once i got to grips with inner working i find fast and easly
to use. it does not have the App's and 3G like the apple ipad2 but i
find a lot better in many ways. i hope that RIM can work on it's App's
and same time soon update the playbook....
Reviewed by Bluewood from Thailand on 27th Dec
At the Rugby World Cup 2011, I went to watch the match New Zealand vs
France, and outside the stadium were some games. One game was to throw
a rugby ball over head into a hoop, and after I won, they let me play
on this blackberry playbook. It was total junk, this is the worst tablet
ever! The touch sensor is so numb and it lags like hell. It is also
an ugly thing which was very inappropriately proportioned.
Reviewed by Susan Mitcheson from England on 26th
I like the playbook but I am disappointed that I can't use the video
chat with other tablets, none of my family or friends have a playbook
so I find the video chat useless, unless anyone has any other ideas
Reviewed by Bengoey from UK on 7th Sep 2011
I bought the Playbook two months ago. I also have IPad which I bought
last year. There is no doubt that if you have only one tablet, for most
people it should be the IPad because of the user friendliness of the
software, Apps and built quality. I bought the Playbook for travel because
of its smaller size, to bridge with my Blackberry phone and to watch
videos/films that I cannot watch on the iPad (no flash) despite using
sky fire app. It is a superb browser,it has excellent screen and as
well built as the iPad . No crashes. If I can only have one tablet I
will gladly choose the Playbook because games are not important for
Reviewed by Simon Maxwell from England on 7th
Built like it is carved from rock, with no flex at al My PlayBook is
fantastic. Seven inches is the perfect size for a tablet, it has Flash
built-in, will shortly run Android apps, has the smartest interface
and fastest browser of them all and it doesn't need an alternative date
plan because it bridges with your existing phone. I've tried every tablet
and this one is the hands-down winner. Before you buy anything else,
try the PlayBook - I love mine so much I don't know how I got by without
Reviewed by Matt from UK on 3rd Jul 2011
It's too small to feel like a tablet, but too large and heavy to feel
truly portable. The OS seemed like it had potential, but having to swipe
into and out of the bezel felt like a gimmick used to mask the lack
of screen real estate. I think I'll wait for the Galaxy tab 8.9, or
maybe something later in the year with a quicker 28nm CPU (Tegra 2 is
a but limp).