Research in Motion (RIM) unveiled its iPad competitor yesterday, the BlackBerry PlayBook. My early take is that there’s a lot to love about this 7″ tablet, but I also have some concerns. In the good column, the PlayBook promises Flash compatibility, video conferencing, portability advantages (very slim and light), a 1GHz dual-core processor, and 1GB of RAM. However, three items leave me less enthusiastic about the new device. First, the PlayBook won’t be available until next year. RIM is completely missing the holiday shopping season, and I’m always cautious about products that leave a long lead time before launch. (Attendees at yesterday’s RIM event weren’t allowed any hands-on time.) Second, initial versions of the PlayBook will be Wi-Fi only. That makes it less than ideal as a travel companion.
Third and most important, the BlackBerry tablet is sporting a whole new operating system. That may be good for the sake of competition, but it’s also a little worrisome for application interoperability. While the PlayBook clearly works as a standalone device, it’s also evident that RIM is trying to tie its new tablet to its existing line of BlackBerry smartphones. Users can pair a BlackBerry smartphone and tablet over a “secure Bluetooth connection,” and syncing apparently happens automatically. That’s great, but I’m pretty attached to my Android smartphone. In theory that’s not a problem, but I have to wonder at the possible inconvenience of toting a netbook with Windows 7, an Android-based phone, and a BlackBerry tablet. It sounds like a recipe for trouble. And with new Android tablets on the way, it may not be worth my time to invest in yet another OS.
Of course, it’s not possible to pronounce any real judgement until reviewers get their/our hands on the new PlayBook. In the meantime, however, that doesn’t stop everyone from speculating. Here’s what others are saying in the wake of RIM’s tablet introduction:
- Engadget: RIM Introduces PlayBook – the BlackBerry Tablet
- Gizmodo: Ultimate Tablet Showdown: iPad v.s PlayBook vs. Galaxy Tab vs. Slate
- Business Insider SAI: RIM Reveals Its iPad Killer, The BlackBerry PlayBook