Review – Blackberry Playbook

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)

Arriving in Nairobi

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, 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!!! 😉 )!


8 comments on “Review – Blackberry Playbook

  1. Rosie Edser
    March 2, 2012 at 1:48 pm #


  2. Jean
    March 4, 2012 at 2:31 am #

    I’m waiting to see what the Kindle Fire offers when it is released in the UK. Sadly, just missed Christmas and my birthday. Would love tablets to incorporate a phone- to save carrying two gadgets.
    I will be considering androids next time my contract comes up for renewal, but as you know, I think Blackberry is the new Betamax. 😜

    • Will Cookson
      March 4, 2012 at 7:09 pm #

      Jean, not sure the kindle fire will do what you want. I imagine it will be about the same price as a blackberry but with reduced functionality! We’ll see about blackberry. It still has a large user base and if they get their act together this year they could well be ok. The playbook is still the best bang for bucks out there!

  3. Christopher
    March 4, 2012 at 8:11 pm #

    I Have the playbook since a month and this device is awesome.
    I use it for work and write documents for labor reports.
    Pairing with the iPhone 4s is no problem and I can use internet everywhere.

  4. Sue
    March 5, 2012 at 7:12 pm #

    Mmmm interesting… my phone contract is up for renewal soon and I was thinking I would move to an Android phone and get a suitable tablet to go with it… to spend first appointment grant on something useful. Had been debating a switch to all things Apple… now you have thrown another spanner in the works. I have no idea so maybe you, the techno geek can explain it all to me over Easter and show me what you are talking about?? Promise I will bring the fruit – grapes in the form of wine!

    • Will Cookson
      March 5, 2012 at 7:58 pm #

      Sue, you just need to decide what you want to use the tablet for. The good thing is that there are several people around who have different ones that you can try out. I suppose that given the cheap price of the blackberry it was a no brained for me. It is the cheapest quality tablet on the market. It doesn’t currently have the same number of apps as the android and ipad ones but most I don’t give twopence about – but you may!!!

  5. Stan
    October 12, 2012 at 11:09 pm #

    I own an iPhone 4 that I tether to my BlackBerry Playbook 8GB. Love the tablet but would like to see more spreadsheet ability adding rows and columns. Also deleting rows/columns. Can not add email folders. Still a very good tablet. Stan

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