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The BlackBerry PlayBook
Research In Motion has its share of challenges both in the technology market and in the stock market, and is also in the middle of arguably the biggest transition in the company’s history.
The BlackBerry PlayBook is at the center of all of its challenges, for both good reasons and not so good, and in many ways it could hold the key to whatever success RIM will see in the coming months and years. (for more, watch CRN's video review of the BlackBerry PlayBook)
But once you strip away all of the headlines and all of the noise and look at RIM’s 7-inch tablet for what it is, we believe it’s a product that you simply can’t ignore. There is too much that is too good about the BlackBerry PlayBook.
Here’s a list of what we like about it, and why:
• Its 7-inch form factor is perfect to accompany a PC. It weighs in at 14 ounces and change, making it lighter and more compact than the other tablets we reviewed. While it may sometimes be difficult to carry around both a tablet and a laptop, it’s often going to be a necessity for many;
• Its touch-screen QWERTY keyboard is comfortable for either thumb-based typing or for those of us who learned typing on the old IBM Selectric platform. We think that means that in a diverse workplace, the BlackBerry PlayBook stands the best chance of being accepted by everyone right away;
• Both audio and video capabilities are as good or better than any other tablet at which we’ve looked;
• While the BlackBerry PlayBook OS still has far too little app support to allow it to compete with other tablets in this category, the OS itself—based on the QNX, Linux-based operating system—is absolutely outstanding. We have found it to be stable, reliable and fast. We haven’t seen an instance of it crashing, or of any apps downloaded from the BlackBerry World app market crashing either. This thing works.
Recently, RIM issued a press release announcing the BlackBerry PlayBook received FIPS 140-2 certification, making it “the first tablet certified for deployment within U.S. federal government agencies.” That’s not a small matter, and it’s likely that the excellence of the QNX-based BlackBerry PlayBook OS was a big factor.
We have seen instances of a bug in the device that, once the battery is completely depleted, it won’t take a recharge. It does appear, though, that is a not a widespread glitch.
As this was being written, RIM was readying an Android Player for the BlackBerry PlayBook—a virtual Android environment that will give the PlayBook access to the entire universe of Android applications. It is possible that when Android Player does hit the market, it could launch the PlayBook into the top spot in the iPad 2 alternatives category.
While RIM has taken its share of hits in the marketplace, don’t forget that this is the company that turned mobile e-mail and messaging into an addiction the world over. We believe that based on its security, sleek design and robust OS, it passes our cost-and-complexity test.
For now, though, the BlackBerry PlayBook has been among the most pleasant surprises we’ve had since reviewing the current generation of tablets, and we think it deserves increasingly serious consideration for the enterprise solution.
Technical Stars: 4
Channel Stars: 4
Price: $599 for 32 GB (list)
NEXT: HP TouchPad