Blackberry PlayBook – my 2 day adventure

Written by  on April 23, 2011 

I gave it an honest try!

This is what I said to myself when the PlayBook arrived in the house. It was yet another shinny gadget that will work its way to my laptop bag – at least that’s what I thought when I first opened it.

The PlayBook came with packaging that was a bit lager than needed, but it was well packaged. When opened, the PlayBook came with a neoprene case, which is always welcomed as splurging $699 for a 64GB was already expensive, and their zip-pouch ($39), leather envelope ($49) or case-stand ($59) will just push this over the top. It also came with a MicroUSB cable, MicroUSB charger, and a screen wipe.

Turning this device on was quite something – the power button at the top was so stuck that I almost broke a nail before it will turn on. I was then greeted with a welcome screen followed by connecting to a Wi-Fi network. It offered WPS as an option so I tried it with my DLink DIR-825 router, but that failed. Then I tried to type in my WPA2 key, and didn’t connect. Tried with my Linksys WRT54G router and failed as well. Tried one last time on the DLink and it finally worked (that was quite an adventure). Then it bug me to do a 300MB OS update, which took about 15 minutes end-to-end. The rest was pretty uneventful, including the BlackBerry Bridge configuration, but I truly despised at the fact that you can’t ignore the welcome tutorial.

The Wi-Fi at this point works, but flaky at best! It connects most of the time, but the applications constantly complaint about “no Internet connection”. Another kicker – it refuses to connect to my iPhone 4 Hotspot, as I suspect it has something to do with the SSID reading “Alan’s iPhone”. Perhaps there’s some RIM/Apple rivalry baked into the Wi-Fi code? (Just kidding, I deduced to the apostrophe since the PB saw my iPhone as “Alan___iPhone”)

Application-wise, it is mostly solid. The bridge truly show its integration to the BlackBerry. However, every time I launched the Bridge Browser, it crashed. Also, the Browser is buggy, especially when a Flash animation is present on the same page. I will zoom into a picture, and it will crash when I zoom out. Without the Blackberry, the device becomes a over-glorified web/entertainment pad, as it lack the depth of software in the app store, as well as the lack of e-mail/calendar client.

The games – amazing showcase of what the hardware can do. I enjoyed NFS very much, and this device proves the PB is well optimized for gaming too. There is potential for it still.

Typing – I love the fact that when I hold the device with my two hands, I can reach all the keys on the screen with my thumb. I can’t say the same for the iPad. The device has some real weight, but just perfect to be held with one hand.

What did it for me are the crashes, stuck power button, and ultimately the poor MicroUSB connector. The unfortunate part is that RIM had 18 months to build this machine, but as a consumer, I felt compelled to return the machine to Best Buy at once. May be I am the exception, but the comments I heard from the Best Buy customer service desk was the same – high return rates due to similar complaints.

Next up – an Android tablet.

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