It was something of an unusual and undoubtedly electric evening to say the very least, as with simply a matter of hours to go before the release of the iPad 2, Research In Motion (RIM) invited a lucky group of journalists to get a close look with their own near-complete entry to the tablet PC battleground – the BlackBerry PlayBook.
Such set the scene for what had already become something of a very clear and direct rivalry, with both sides clearly aware that their own device would be compared against its competitor like for like for many months, perhaps years to come.
Indeed, even the fact that the two offices used to present the two devices to the press were so incredibly close to each other added to tension that was already thick enough to be cut with a knife.
So, a little further down the line, the question is still being asked as to which takes the title, which has certainly become much easier to take a stab at now we’ve all had chance to really go over them both with a fine-toothed comb. Prototypes and press release devices are all well and good, but if history has taught us nothing else, it is that product launches and their original representations are often as different as chalk and cheese.
In this instance, I have decided to take a good look at the BlackBerry PlayBook, entirely discounting the concerns regarding the absence of on-board email and calendar functions, so as to really evaluate the device for what it has…not simply what it lacks.
There is no denying at all the PlayBook represents a truly nifty device, which is lightweight, very well built and has a good, sturdy feel when using it. Furthermore it is fast…very fast in fact, even when held alongside any other heavyweight including the Motorola XOOM. Also, measuring in at just seven inches, the PlayBook fits pretty well into most jacket pockets or small purses – which is something the iPad certainly cannot do!
Aside from the initial hardware merits that jump out of the tablet, one of the other key areas of reverence is the user interface, which many have cited as being vastly superior to both iOS from Apple and Android’s latest Honeycomb offering. It offers something of a slick and simple yet sophisticated and high-performance feel to it that is rather difficult to put down on paper. In all honesty, it really has to be tried out in person to be comprehended properly.
In my opinion, in terms of outright performance at least, Android and iOD have both met their match in the PlayBook.
Multitasking is nothing other than a job when using the PlayBook – with a quick and easy interface and smooth running which allows you to see everything currently going on in the background.
HP have gone so far as to make the allegation that the OS of the PlayBook is something of an interpretation of the WebOS, that has just been made public by way of the HP TouchPad launch last week.
The browser of the PlayBook is also no less than a marvel of modern electrical engineering, rendering pages immaculately and immediately while responding fluidly to multi-touch gestures without fail.
Regarding apps, I am yet to come across a single one of the many thousands I have tried that does not run smoothly and entirely effortlessly on the device. The movie-watching function is every bit as stunning as could possibly be expected and is likely to become the ideal portable cinema system to grace home theatres the world over.
Dual HD video cameras nicely wrap up an entirely neat package, which also sports an HDMI video output, just like the highest end of the Android tablet range.
So, as an alternative to the iPad 2, my personal view is that the PlayBook is not simply a worthy contender, but a true choice and not even remotely a compromise. In short, looks, build quality, hardware, performance and functionality are all sublime, so really, what more could you ask for?
This impartial review of the BlackBerry Playbook was give to us for free by Leigh Moben of arm chair specialists Sofas and Sectionals.