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by Jiří {x2} Činčura

BlackBerry PlayBook - first sight review

21 May 2011 BlackBerry, BlackBerry PlayBook

I had PlayBook in my hands for almost two days. So I think it’s time to share some first impressions.

First the size and weight. It’s smaller than well known iPad, you can get that from specifications. It’s roughly the size of Kindle 3rd generation. The weight is officially 425g, but I care more about how it feels. And being used to Kindle (very light) and having two or three times iPad in my hands (first time I almost dropped it, how heavy it was) it’s what I expected. Thanks to the size, you can hold it in one hand and do stuff. And also hold it in almost every position you want (including lying for a decent amount of time) without being quickly tired. It fits my usage perfectly.

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With physical size the screen size relates. For web browsing is, I think, just enough. Sure, bigger screen would mean more content. In last two days or so I just watched some videos and read articles. I had no problem with reading, slowly scrolling through text and reading paragraphs was fine, no hassle. Video is fine as well. If you’re watching is from standard reading distance, something around from 25cm to 40cm, no problem at all. The hi-res videos are looking great on in. Nice colors, but not over-juiced.

The borders are active, couple of gestures to control the tablet. But you’ve probably seen enough of it on demo videos. There are no special buttons on the edges. Only play/pause, volume up, volume down and power button on top. Talking about power button. It’s really small and almost equally with the edge itself. For a first day I had hard times to press it. Now I found “the move” to do it. But it was frustrating. :)

Connectors are 3,5mm jack for audio, micro-USB for charging and connecting to computer, micro-HDMI and one dedicated charge connector (used i.e. by dock or rapid charger).

The system is great. I love the speed of it and full multitasking. Everything is smooth. The behavior is close to normal operating systems we know from computers, but still efficient on tablet, so I got very quickly to get used to it.

So far I did only one and a half lap with charge-discharge, so it’s not a representative sample of data. But it looks like, PlayBook lasts 7 hours on average usage, about 4 hours on close to full-time usage. Not bad. I think you could “survive” a day out of the office on one charge.

The browser is WebKit based and works fine. No advanced options, just a few. Tabs are working. Rendering is fast, I feel I’m not waiting for something, though I didn’t tested it with stopwatch or something like that. The feel is enough for me. I also checked the browser’s User-Agent identification. The browser displayed all pages I visited so far without any problem, some included heavy JavaScript usage (i.e. HootSuite).

And there’s one nice feature I’d like to talk about. You can turn on WiFi sharing, which allows you to see your PlayBook as a network share. You can then upload (or download) files directly to it and access it by applications on tablet. Pretty damn nice.

I don’t know what to say more. I’m so far, pleased with it. Fulfilled my expectations. If you want to ask something, do it in comments, I’ll try my best to provide you with an answer. Later, I’ll, for sure, write some deeper observations as I gain some.