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Review of the Blackberry Playbook

With the Blackberry Playbook, it is clear that Research in Motion (RIM) is tryng to find its own niche in the tablet market by staking a comfortable middle ground between a full-sized tablet like the iPad 2 and smartphones like the iPhone or Droid.

With the Blackberry Playbook, it is clear that Research in Motion (RIM) is tryng to find its own niche in the tablet market by staking a comfortable middle ground between a full-sized tablet like the iPad 2 and smartphones like the iPhone or Droid. While many won't mind carrying a number of different devices to fit different needs, there are others who want an all-in-one device with both power and portability. The Blackberry Playbook attempts to meet the needs of this later group. Most notably, the 7-inch display on the Playbook is nearly 3 inches smaller than that of the iPad 2. The device is small enough to fit within most shirt and pants pockets, something the iPad 2 and smiliar-sized tablets could enver do.

Although smaller than the iPad, the Playbook is a solid device with a hefty feel to it. The weight of the device may come as a surprise to some. To most consumers, however, the solid and seemingly durable construction is probably more than worth any extra weight. As mentioned, the display on the Playbook is bout three inches smaller than the iPad 2, but for most purposes the loss of the three inches is hardly noticeable. The Playbook's display is without a doubt one of the device's most laudable features with a 1024 x 600-pixel resolution and full HD capability movies and pictures look stunning. Complimenting the display is an HDMI port, which allows the device to be hooked up to any compatible HD device including HDTVs and projectors.

Getting a bit more technical, the Blackberry Playbook, like the iPad 2 is powered by a 1 GHZ dual core processor and 1 GB of ram. Powered by RIMS newest operating system, the QNX, the device is surprisingly quick, intuitive and responsive. The user interface allows you to easily jump from one application to another and scroll through options effortlessly. It may not run quite as fast or as snappy as the commercial would you lead you to believe, but the UI is still very responsive and truely a pleasure to use. The "crackberry" has truely come to the tablet.

One of the limitations of the Playbook is that is is in some ways reliant upon the Blackberry smartphone. While some who consider purchasing the Playbook will be owners of the Blackberry smartphone, many will not. For those without a Blackberry phone this may be a serious problem if not a "deal breaker." Via Bluetooth, the device must be tied to a RIM handset with a BIS or BES account in order to gain access to the device's on-board e-mail. Given that many consumers use other handsets and/or have online e-mail accounts such as Gmail, his is likely to turn off a significant number of potential buyers.

One additional issue reported with the Blackberry Playbook is heat. The device produces quite a bit of heat after a couple hours of regular use. Other larger tablets like the iPad 2 typically run quite cool and only occassionally feel warm to the touch. Heat is probably still not much of any issue, however, as sustained moderate to heavy use is not something most users perform on a regular basis.

So how about the price? In order to be competitive, one would expect the Blackberry Playbook to remain a bit cheaper than the iPad 2 and other "full-sized" tablets. At about $600 retail for the model with 32 GB of storage space, the Playbook is about the same price as a new iPad 2 or Motorola Xoom - a bit more expensive than some would like.

Despite the drawbacks, the Blackberry Playbook is a powerful, slim device that is simply a lot of fun to use. The new operating system combined with the device's petites size give it portability and functionality that few other device currently possess. While the Playbook may be particularly appealing to current Blackberry handset owners who can readily access their e-mail, expanded functionality in the future would approve the device's allure to a much wider audience. The Playbook offers a practical and interesting alternative to the slightly larger iPad-like tablets, bringing us one small step closer to a portable device that fits in our pocket, yet can do everything we ask of our mobile devices.

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Frank J. Wiley is a senior editor at, a website containing many helpful consumer electronics review articles. For more information on the Blackberry Playbook, please visit ourBlackberry Playbook Review webpage.

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