A buddy of mine recently took a PlayBook for a few days to test out BlackBerry Bridge and to see if he would carry it while travelling. Remember that I reviewed the PlayBook here and promised an update. Here it is! Read on for his impressions!
First off, let me tell you a bit about my buddy David. He is a road warrior. Now, when I tell you this, I really mean it! He has had years where he racked up enough frequent flyer miles to be recognized by United Airlines as being in their top 10% of miles earners. In his current role, he’s as likely to be in Italy, Germany, Belgium, China, South America or India as he is to be in the office. When he travels, he carries everything on the plane with him and he hates extra weight in his bag. He is also a longtime BlackBerry user and currently carries a Torch 2 from RIM. In short, he’s BlackBerry’s target customer for the PlayBook. He carries an iPad2 for personal use while travelling today, and compared the PlayBook with carrying his iPad2. With that introduction out of the way, what were his impressions? Keep in mind that what is written here is all David’s opinion. I’ve edited his comments some, and added comments as noted by the bracketed content, but the evaluation is his.
- Synchronizing to the phone [he is talking about BlackBerry Bridge] is advantageous vs. a pc for business. Much of what I do is updated on the phone. In many cases I am trying to get away from using a pc at all when traveling. Synching with the phone is good via Bluetooth as it eliminates the need for a wifi connection, which is frequently not available, or requires special charges/fees in airports and hotels.
- BlackBerry’s system is better aligned to a normal drag and drop for files and is more user friendly vs. the Apple’s app center.
- Better flexibility for MS products (spreadsheets, Word, PowerPoint).
- Size is good for planes and fits hand well easy to manage and although small works for business.
- Flash support in the web browser is a big plus.
- There is easier access to all data (files etc.) vs. iPad. [David mentioned that managing content is much easier in his opinion than on the iPad. Like me, he hates using iTunes to manage content onto his iPad. While you still use some software to load data onto the PlayBook, it is more streamlined and easier to use in our opinion.]
- It is a little easier to type on than the iPad.
- There is good sound from the unit with dual outputs from the front – it is easy to hear.
- The screen was really cumbersome to navigate and manipulate. It got a little easier after a few days but changing back and forth between programs was not easy. It would take multiple swipes for response too often to shrink the open program. [The Playbook uses the bezel as the starting point for touch interaction with the screen. I also found this to be a little confusing at first.]
- The touch sensitivity was not good and especially when browsing on the internet. It required several touches to activate buttons when on web sites. This is also where the size came in; because it was smaller, frequently when it did activate, it picked the adjacent item. [This is a problem with the size. At 7 inches or so, the screen is small enough to require plenty of zooming when on the web.]
- It was slower than iPad.
- The size was smaller than I liked when using it for personal use [primarily web surfing and controlling movie playback].
- The battery life was marginal.
My biggest complaint focused around screen issues and lack of sensitivity which was very frustrating during the test usage. I would definitely use the PlayBook for a primary work-focus device and the size is great for travel. That said, most companies do not provide these devices; therefore, people that have them tend to use them heavily for personal uses along with business. BlackBerry seems to have missed that on the size element, which becomes more of an issue on the personal use side of the equation.
The other issue is phones for RIM. Even if I loved the PlayBook, the only way I would buy one is to use it with a BlackBerry phone product. Today, there is not a BlackBerry phone that I would want. The Torch is their flagship and not everyone wants a manual keyboard and a sliding mechanism. RIM products are not fun and lack bells and whistles for personal use. People like myself grew up on RIM products, but they are no longer just ‘work’ tools; they are hybrids, especially as more companies have the user pay for the device. They are used for work and play and no one wants to maintain two devices.
In the end, David rated this one a 3/5 on the UsingWHS.com scale, Worth a Look. He really does not think it worth the spend unless you carry a BlackBerry phone, and cautions that the form factor may be too small for easy use while web browsing and controlling video playback. I have to agree with his overall sentiment. David, thanks for your time in evaluating the PlayBook for us, and happy travels!My PlayBook Review