Play with the PlayBook

Written by Abhijit Ahaskar | Updated: Jun 30 2011, 05:22am hrs
In a market dominated by iPads, where the choices are few, BlackBerry PlayBook brings in a handsome alternative. As far as the appearance goes, PlayBook is a lot like Samsung Galaxy Tab and is priced in the same range as well. Coming right after the iPad 2, PlayBook has an edge over the former with superior cameras, but is outwitted by the Apple tablet for its lack of SIM support. So, if you want to use PlayBook at a place that lacks Wi-Fi connection you cant use the internet at all, unless you have a BlackBerry smartphone to run internet via your phone. Unfortunately, that aspect failed to impress either.

PlayBook is a compact tablet with matte finish on the back side, rendering it easy to grip and immune to smudges. The front panel has a 7-inch multi-touch screen with speakers on both the sides and a three megapixel front camera for video chatting. The backside features a five megapixel camera and a protruded metallic logo of BlackBerry. The tablet boasts of micro USB slot, HDMI slot, 3.5 mm universal jack, switch button and dedicated sound keys.

PlayBook impresses with its crystal clear multi-touch display, measuring 7-inches. With a screen resolution of 1024 x 600 pixels, it adds crispiness to videos, images and webpages. The user interface is smooth and respond promptly to the slightest of touches. Navigating across apps is easy and one can run several apps simultaneously in the background while continuing with one on the full display. A running app can be minimised, not closed like iPad, by swiping upwards from the edge of the screen. Multi-tasking on iPad 2 is not as user friendly as this.

PlayBook boasts of RIMs powerful new tablet OS and runs on 1 GHz dual core processor and 1 GB RAM, available across PlayBooks 16 GB, 32 GB and 64 GB variants. For networking, it has only Wi-Fi. However, if you have a Blackberry smartphone, then you can run internet via BlackBerry Bridge app, which allows you to connect with a BlackBerry phone via Bluetooth and run internet, contacts, calendar, BBM, etc. But, that is utterly disappointing and slow. Firstly, because it connects via Bluetooth, which is why it is utterly slow in syncing with the phone. Secondly, Bluetooth must stay on for the pairing to work, and will eat up your battery faster than normal. Thirdly, the smartphone must stay close to the tablet for proper Bluetooth signal.

The sound quality is impressive with front faced speakers. PlayBook has two passable cameras, a 3 MP at the front and a 5 MP at the back. The back camera can record high definition videos and click images in sports and auto mode in 16:9 aspect ratio with image stabilisation. There are plenty of apps such as Facebook, Twitter, Gmail, Tetris, Blackberry apps and QR scanner that allows scanning of QR code to decipher the hidden code. The battery gives a back-up of 5-6 hours on one charge.

As far as free apps for BlackBerry PlayBook go, Conde Nast Traveller is a GPS enabled travel guide that gives the users the essential details about the best of things to do, place to stay, drink and shop in 18 different destinations. Vogue Stylist provides the users with customised trends and advice from Vogue Indias panel of experts within 72 hours.

Overall, PlayBook has its attractions, but the disappointment of not having SIM connectivity dampens them all.