A must-have for BlackBerry users, misunderstood by others, RIM's tablet might have an air of work-in-progress around it, but it's also undeniably sexy.
The 7in RIM PlayBook is arguably the most unique of the current crop of second-gen tablets we're seeing at the moment. On the surface, it’s a powerful little beast that could be considered a more powerful alternative to the first-generation 7in Samsung Galaxy Tab, whose form factor made it a real hit among many users.
But in reality, this first Wi-Fi only model from RIM is primarily targeted at current users of BlackBerry smartphones. It’s designed to piggyback existing BlackBerry smartphones via its BlackBerry Bridge (Bluetooth) connection and use their existing internet connection as well as access the highly secure native BlackBerry email. Many critics have been dismayed the PlayBook does not have its own 3G or native access to BlackBerry email, leading some to argue that RIM has rushed it to market before it was ready.
RIM, of course, doesn’t see it that way. It believes that if you already have a BlackBerry phone, a PlayBook means you don’t have to sign up to another data plan to get a much more enjoyable BlackBerry experience on a bigger 7in 1,200 x 600 screen. And more enjoyable it is, as the PlayBook is a powerful little machine. Instead of a glorified phone OS, it runs QNX, which is a UNIX-like OS with true multitasking.
Powered by a Texas Instruments 1GHz OMAP4430 processor and PowerVR SGX540 graphics, together with 1GB of RAM, it’s able to play multiple videos at once and will also run Android apps in virtual machines later this year. Try and get iOS to do that! The PlayBook is one of the few devices on the market that can record full 1080p HD video, which is why I would choose the 64GB version instead of the entry-level 16GB or 32GB versions.
It doesn’t have many native apps as yet, but for BlackBerry traditionalists, it’s finally something truly sexy from RIM. Available from RIM, retailing from $578 (16GB), $689 (32GB), $799 (64GB) .APC rating: 8/10 (Highly Recommended)