It looks amazing in the promo videos, but does the BlackBerry PlayBook have the horsepower to justify the hype? Manufacturer RIM claims it's the fastest tablet ever, which is bound to annoy rivals whose tablets pack more processing power.
The PlayBook runs its own Tablet OS
If it's good, the PlayBook is competition for both Apple and Android: it's operating system, QNX, promises "true multi-tasking". It looks very like HP's WebOS, which is no bad thing: it's clean, modern and easy to navigate.
The specs are quite tasty
RIM claims that the PlayBook is the fastest tablet ever made, with a 1GHz dual-core processor and 1GB of RAM delivering much more raw power than the iPad's internals. However, by the time the PlayBook actually ships we'll have rivals from the likes of Pioneer, whose tablet plans include 1.5GHz processors and up to 2GB of RAM. For some reason RIM hasn't revealed how much storage the tablet will have. The seven-inch screen offers 1024x600 resolution and there are twin cameras, one on the front and one on the back. The whole package weighs 425g.
It does 3G, kinda, sorta
If you don't fancy a 4G PlayBook (or don't live in America) you can use the PlayBook on the 3G mobile phone network - but only if you've got a BlackBerry phone, which acts as a 3G modem for the tablet. RIM hasn't said whether other phones can be used as modems with the tablet
It really, really, really wants you to buy a BlackBerry phone
Incredibly, the PlayBook will ship without an email client or a calendar: for that you'll need to wirelessly connect to your BlackBerry phone. Industry analyst Brian Blair says that this makes the PlayBook "sharply inferior to other tablets on the market", calls RIM "misguided" and predicts that the tablet will be "dead on arrival".
It runs Flash and Adobe AIR
Pretty much every non-Apple tablet runs Flash and the PlayBook is no exception, but it also runs Adobe's AIR application platform. That should make developing apps for the PlayBook a doddle.
It might run Android apps
Not all analysts are as pessimistic as Brian Blair. Morgan Stanley's Ehud Gelblum reckons the PlayBook will do around 2 million sales in its first year, and suggests that RIM should add the Dalvik software package to its tablet OS. Dalvik is a virtual machine that runs Android apps, and Gelblum reckons that "RIM should be able to add full Android App support to its PlayBook tablet with NO performance penalty".
It's looking really good
Engadget for one is impressed: it says the device is "blazingly fast, comfortable to hold and intuitive to use." What's not clear yet is how much the PlayBook will cost. Without a price, it's impossible to predict whether it will succeed.
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