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BlackBerry PlayBook review roundup

The reviews are in, and they’re surprisingly good.


Right now, the BlackBerry PlayBook is a tablet that will come close to satisfying those users who gravitate toward the first word in its name: BlackBerry.

Joshua Topolsky:

The PlayBook is a really solid device with a handsome and clean industrial design, a hefty set of specs, and a new operating system that shows tons of promise. […]

The worst part, however, is that I can’t think of a single reason to recommend this tablet over the iPad 2, or for that matter… the Xoom. And that’s what it really boils down to here; what is the compelling feature that will make buyers choose the PlayBook over something else?

David Pogue:

The PlayBook, then, is convenient, fast and coherently designed. But in its current half-baked form, it seems almost silly to try to assess it, let alone buy it.

Remember, the primary competition is an iPad — the same price, but much thinner, much bigger screen and a library of 300,000 apps. In that light, does it make sense to buy a fledgling tablet with no built-in e-mail or calendar, no cellular connection, no videochat, no Skype, no Notes app, no GPS app, no videochat, no Pandora radio and no Angry Birds?

MG Siegler:

Is the PlayBook comparable to the iPad? No. Between the (lack of) app support and the wonky web browsing, there’s just no way around that fact. But RIM was smart to make the PlayBook a completely different form factor and give it BlackBerry Bridge to appeal to corporate users. So in that regard, there could be significant interest in this device.

They all agree on the major points: very good hardware overall, awful power button, good battery life, rushed and unfinished software, horrible third-party apps, inexplicable requirement of having a BlackBerry smartphone to use email and calendar, but lots of promise for future improvements.

The appeal to corporate IT buyers is interesting. It’s certainly using RIM’s best market advantages: IT departments love being able to configure and lock down fleets of BlackBerries exactly as they want and deploy them to their Business People (the people you see putting their BlackBerry into their belt clips so they can take out the iPod Touches).

But the “tablet” market — which, so far, means the iPad market — seems to be more about getting away from the horrible computing environments that most people are forced to endure at work.

I commend RIM for making what looks like a pretty good first effort. (I admit that my expectations were set very low.) But the reason people buy iPads is because they see someone else’s, they try it, and it’s so fun and delightful that they stop thinking about the price, go to the nearest Apple store, and buy one.

So, for one thing, I don’t see a lot of corporate IT departments justifying the purchase of PlayBooks for their employees.

But there’s a bigger question that RIM, HP, and Android-tablet manufacturers all need to be asking themselves: What are they doing to make their tablets fun and delightful?