Most of you know that in my heart that I am a geek. Well, my latest bit of technology has been a Tablet – in fact a Blackberry Playbook (a combined present from my long-suffering family!). I have been using it for about a month now and thought a review was now in order.
So, why did I want a tablet? Well no great reason other than I wanted something more mobile for carrying around. When I’m out and about I may often want to look something up or do work on the way up to London for a diocesan meeting – but I don’t want a laptop – too big and heavy. So, I started to look at Tablets.
For those who aren’t familiar with them Tablets are a cut down laptop – small and very light. They have significant limitations over a laptop (software and USB ports etc) and you need to make sure that it will do what you want but they can be very useful.
I knew I didn’t want an iPad (sorry to those who have one!!); partly because I wanted an open system; supporting things like flash; and I wasn’t prepared to spend a minimum of £400!
So, looking at the alternatives I was looking mainly at android based ones. But then came along the sale of the Playbook. I already have a Blackberry curve with a large data plan that I never use and so I took the plunge and bought one (well technically the family did as a combined Christmas/Birthday present!) So, how is it?
Well I must admit it is a brilliant piece of kit. It has just had a major software upgrade which has added some great features and helped with its performance. So, why do I like the Playbook?
Well, there are lots of reasons. Everyone may have different reasons for a tablet – Here are some of mine:
Firstly, the size. I was worried about buying a 7″ Tablet rather than a 10″ (like the ipad and the Samsung Galaxy) as to whether it would be too small. In fact, I am delighted I took the plunge. The size is that of a book. It is lightweight and has a very good screen resolution (1024 x 600) – indeed better than the bigger ipad!
Secondly, the camera specs. There are two cameras on it – a 5mp rear camera and a 3mp front camera capable of taking pictures and video. Again the specs are higher than the ipad (1080p for recording video). I used the video camera on the playbook for our recent trip to Kenya and I was really impressed at how well it did (it didn’t have zoom but it was overall a good experience and easier and less obvious to carry than a video camera). File size was ok as well – about 40mb per minute recorded. This was a video of building a mud house (used Movie Maker to splice it and put it together)
The following picture was taken with the camera on the playbook (good for general use but I wouldn’t use as my main camera)
Thirdly, the multi-tasking capability. The playbook can open multiple windows and run multiple applications simultaneously. Very useful when you want to copy and paste between applications.
The browser is fast and supports all the standards – including sites that use flash. The bezel around the screen is touch sensitive and allows for easy use of different swipes to do various functions. Swipe up to go from full screen to window; swipe from the bottom corner for a keyboard; swipe from top for contextualised menus etc.
Given the great hardware and software on it then the icing on the cake (but a very important one!) is the bridging capability with my blackberry phone. It can connect via my blackberry phone to the internet without having to have another data plan. Blackberry have, in effect, hidden the playbook behind my phone and unlike other methods the phone carriers think that it is the phone accessing the internet – meaning no additional charges!
Email, with the recent upgrade, is great – allowing multiple connections within the application (not just email but also Twitter, Facebook and Linkedln); it also is well integrated with calendar and contacts – e.g. if you book a meeting with someone you can bring up all the info you have stored on them such as phone number, email and (with Linkedin) info about the person!
In addition I have used it read books, write notes and documents, access and write on the blog, used it for bible software, editing photos, twitter, backing up files to box.net, browsing, RSS reader (Geereader is my favourite), accessed my home computer remotely.
Given the ability to run things like iplayer on it there is also a microHDMI output to connect it up to your TV and watch via the playbook.
Things I would like? There really aren’t too many things that I would still like to see but here is my list:
Photoshop Touch – This is available on android (and now on the ipad) and I hope its coming our way soon
An app that can take movie clips and edit them and mesh them together (like Microsoft Movie Maker)
The spreadsheet to be a little more usable (difficult to add rows and columns in)
The Blackberry app library is smaller than the Apple and Android ones (though there is an influx of Android ones at the moment due to the introduction of an android library)
Would I have done anything different if I knew what I know now? I was very wary buying one beforehand and unsure as to whether I was making the right decision. Well the only thing now is that knowing what I do now I might have bought one with a larger memory size! I don’t regret buying it one little bit and nor do I pass others in a store and think did I make the right decision – especially at the price that it is(if you must know I look at them a little pityingly!!! 😉 )!