PlayBook OS 2.0

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I’m typing this post using the WordPress app now found in the PlayBook AppWorld. This is noteworthy for a few reasons:  one, the app is finally available; two, it’s an unmodified and repackaged Android app.

When RIM released their Tablet OS 2.0 on Monday, my favourite 7″ tablet became my favourite way of running Android apps.  It’s not perfect and there is certainly still room to improve, but I remain confident that RIM has what it takes to turn their fortunes around.

For starters, the PlayBook is an interesting size.  At 7″, it is the same size as the original Samsung Galaxy.  With a 1024×600 display, the display resolution is almost the same as the iPad’s 1024×768 9.7″ display.

At this size, the PlayBook is almost pocketable.  It’s also pretty much the same size as 5×7″ notepad. Not only is this a very convenient and portable size, but the overall build-quality, speed, and image quality is absolutely top-notch.  However, one of my absolute favourite features of the PlayBook are the brilliant speakers on the device. They are loud and clear enough that I often use them to listen to music and podcasts both in my office and around the house.

The PlayBook is a dual-core device with great graphics capabilities. The horsepower of the device is finally being leveraged by many first-rate games found on other tablet platforms and by some games unique to the PlayBook Tablet OS. Even though the PlayBook is pushing a year old, it is still a first-rate device hardware-wise

As much as I like the hardware, the software is also first-rate.  RIM certainly took well-deserved flack for the PlayBook’s initial lack of email and PIM apps, something that they have addressed completely in the 2.0 release, and something that is a complete non-issue with BlackBerry Bridge, but the rest of the underlying OS is just great.  People forget that PlayBook Tablet OS 1.0 was the equivalent of iOS 1.0.  When drawing that comparison, I think that RIM did a pretty fantastic job of the release, and is quickly making the platform feature complete.  Yes, the PlayBook has been out for nine months, but in this time, RIM has:

  • Created top-flight email and PIM apps
  • Added the Android compatibility layer
  • Created developer tools to allow software to be written in C++, Java, or HTML5, to say nothing of Adobe AIR, which was available at release of 1.0.
  • Created and upgraded important apps for the ecosystems success, like Documents to Go, which offers better MS Office functionality out of the box than any other tablet
  • Created top-notch apps such as Podcasts, BlackBerry News RSS reader, etc.
  • Created the best browser that I’ve seen on a mobile device with the best Flash implementation I’ve seen on a portable device

The PlayBook is an interesting device. It is clearly RIM’s response to the iPad, yet it isn’t just trying to copy the iPad. It has a unique size, a unique user interface, and has different priorities than the iPad.  When it was first released at $500+ it was certainly on the high-end price-wise.  However, the 16GB has been selling for as little as $150 and averages $200.  I picked up the 64GB I’m writing this on for $300CDN.  At these prices, the PlayBook is a steal.  The hardware is great, the software is great and is improving quickly, and the Tablet OS shows real promise.  It makes me look forward to RIM’s new BlackBerry OS to be released later this year.  In the meantime, I’m very happy with the PlayBook.  It doesn’t have the breadth or depth of apps available for the iPad or Android tablet, but it is catching up quickly.  In particular, the Android compatibility layer in 2.0 ought to open the floodgates.

The PlayBook already has a 15% tablet market share in Canada.  I expect this to rise.  I’d love to see a 10″ PlayBook to compete head-on with the iPad but I also think the 7″ is a winner.  RIM nailed the hardware on the PlayBook.  The software was rough around the edges, but is improving quickly and is a solid foundation for the next generation of RIM products.

GoSaBe Blog - Feb 25, 2012 | GoSaBe News