Photo: Omar Rawji

Tech Review: The BlackBerry Playbook is now affordable

Lower prices on tablet PCs may attract student buyers

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Over the weekend, BlackBerry announced via Twitter that its Playbook will now be selling at the reduced price of $199 at certain stores in Canada.

Because everyone knows students love their toys (to parents: supplementary learning devices), here is a review of BlackBerry's tablet computer in contrast with others on the market. In comparison, the industry standard Apple iPad 2 has its 16GB model selling at $519.

Positives

The Size

The Playbook measures 193 x 130 x 10 mm. The iPad 2, in comparison, is 241 x 186 x 9mm. These numbers may mean nothing to you, but you can see in pictures two and three of the slideshow how it sizes up next to a paper notebook and next to the iPad 2. If portability is important to you, the Playbook slips into a purse or "murse" (man's purse) with ease.

Cameras

The Playbook has two cameras. On the back (facing outwards), a 5-megapixel camera, and on the front (facing the user), a 3-megapixel camera. Both shoot video in HD.

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In contrast to the Motorola Xoom, HP Touchpad and iPad 2, the Playbook's cameras outshine the competition. The best camera on those tablets is the HP Touchpad's at 1.3-megapixels. The camera on the iPad 2 is VGA quality which means it shoots in less than 1-megapixel and it shoots video at 720p.

Presentation mode

The fourth picture in the slideshow shows how you can watch a video in 1080p with the Playbook connected to your television while reading a book on the tablet's screen. While the iPad 2 did not originally have the capability to show video in 1080p, Apple has since released a $39 docking device which does make it possible.

Extension of your BlackBerry phone

If you already have a BlackBerry smartphone, the Playbook is a perfect companion. Using the 'BlackBerry Bridge' your devices will connect via bluetooth and you can access all the BlackBerry Messenger and email capabilities your phone has, without any setup process at all.

Negatives

The Screen

Because of the small size, the screen is only 7 in. diagonally. The screen on the iPad 2 is 10.1 in. which offers much more room to play with.

Apps

Perhaps the worst quality of the Playbook is its lack of apps. Most websites that have apps available will have one available for the iPad and possibly one for Android devices as well. Blackberry Playbook? No chance.

Personally, I need Tweetdeck for Twitter like I need coffee in the morning. The current app line-up doesn't satisfy me.

Blackberry is set to launch its second version of the Playbook operating system in "early 2012" according to Bloomberg, and the new version will include full compatibility for all Android apps.

No Blackberry phone

Without a BlackBerry smartphone, there is no native email client on the Playbook, which means you can only use web-based email. BlackBerry has done this to maintain the security of their devices, but it comes at the cost of alienating any non-BlackBerry phone owners.

Overall

The Playbook is a good tablet, and at the new price, it should certainly be considered if you're in the market for one. With Android apps soon to be available, it is about to become far more versatile. Keep in mind that the Playbook was clearly designed as an extension of BlackBerry smartphones, so if you don't have one, you will miss out on many functions.

Comments on this story are now closed

Thanks that is great news from Blackberry. I will have to go and purchase one.

Posted by Paul Green | Nov 28, 2021

So excited I found this article as it made things much quicker!

Posted by Kris | Dec 4, 2021