BlackBerry PlayBook Review

By on June 22, 2011
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Great from a hardware point of view- not too sure about the software.

Good: Fast hardware, beautiful screen and excellent gesture based operations
Bad: OS feels incomplete, lack of built-in email and calendar functionality, Not many good apps.
Price: AED 2,099 (16GB), AED 2,699 (32GB) and AED 3,099 (64GB)
* The price is the Suggested Retail Price at the time of review. Please call a retailer to confirm the latest price for this product.

We generally get products for review once they are officially released in the Middle East which could be anywhere between a week to a few months from the International launch. However, sometimes, excitement around a product is so high that I end up buying a grey import and that is exactly what I did with the BlackBerry PlayBook that I have been using for almost two months now. I thought I’d hold my review until the device officially launches in the UAE and now that it is here, lets find out what I think of it.

Packaged in a nice colorful pizza sized box, the PlayBook is available in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB capacities and priced at AED 2,099, 2,699 and 3,099 respectively. Inside the packaging, RIM bundles a neoprene sleeve and a charger. The sleeve is black in color from the outside but you can easily flip it inside-out and use the blue version of it- definitely a cool touch.

The first thing that strikes you about the PlayBook is it’s impressive build quality and the somewhat dull design that resembles a no-frills digital photo frame. The 7” form factor is certainly a bit on the smaller side but great for portability. You have a 3.5mm headphone jack and a few buttons on top for powering the device and playing/pausing as well as changing volume levels. The bottom side has connections for USB charging, a mini HDMI port and a dock connector. I really like the fact that RIM has used the standard USB connector for charging the PlayBook instead of a proprietary one found on most other tablets as it makes forgetting carrying the power cable a non-issue. Similarly, the standard mini-HDMI port won’t leave you looking for any proprietary dongles or cables either.

The construction quality of the PlayBook is top notch. The industrial design, as RIM likes to call it, has a very tight finish with no creaking parts or leaking lights. With a smooth back that also helps with the grip of the unit and a 7” form factor that makes the unit slide very easily into your coat pocket, you can tell that a lot of thought has been put into the design of the PlayBook. While the 7” form factor will probably work well for the suits, I personally think that it’s a bit on the smaller side. I also think that the 9.7” iPad and 10.1” Android tablets are too big and am thus hoping that an 8.9” form factor will strike the right balance between portability and usage.

Coming back to the PlayBook, RIM does well to match the quality of the PlayBook from the outside to the components used inside. The PlayBook is powered by a Qualcomm dual core cortex A9 CPU running at 1GHz along with 1GB of RAM. Storage comes in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB capacities, however, there is no MicroSD slot so i suggest choosing the highest capacity you can afford. On the connectivity side, you have 802.11b/g/n support as well as Bluetooth 2.1. Add to that a 6-axis motion sensor (gyroscope), a digital compass, GPS, and  an orientation sensor and you really appreciate how RIM managed to fit all that into a tiny 7.6″ x 5’1″ frame, with a depth of 0.4″ that weighs under a pound.

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Abbas Jaffar Ali is the founder of and a blogger, geek and self-declared tech pundit who can't stop talking about technology. Find him on twitter as @ajaffarali

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