Darlings of the corporate world, Research in Motion made their first foray into the tablet wars with the Blackberry PlayBook. Tech journalists the world over breathed a sigh of relief that the rumoured name “BlackPad” hadn’t been used. Even more surprising, after a slew of quite disappointing “me too” Android tablets (and the Blackberry Torch) was that it actually looks quite good.
How so? Well for one thing it won’t be running a poorly modified phone or desktop OS like some of its more rushed rivals (you know who you are) and will instead be powered by Blackberry Tablet OS, which was developed by QNX, a bolt-on acquisition to the Research in Motion team. RIM were keen to mention the multimedia and gaming power this platform provided – amazing when you consider the no-nonsense attitude that drives their phone platform, although they were also keen to describe the PlayBook as “the first professional tablet.”
Fulltime iPad haters will find a lot to like. It handles Flash 10.1 so it will be interesting to see how its performance holds up for gaming and multimedia. Developers will also be able to create apps using Adobe Air.
At 7 inches it is smaller that the iPad, albeit with a pixel dense 1024 x 600 capacitive multitouch display. “Every device I own must have a camera! Does it have a camera?” you cry. Yes, yes it does – two in fact with a front facing 3 megapixel camera and a 5 mega pixel rear one, including video conferencing.
Other conspicuous iPad absentees such as multi-tasking, 1080p support or a built-in HDMI out are all present and correct in the PlayBook, courtesy of the Cortex A9 dual core 1GHz CPU, backed up with 1GB of RAM.
The PlayBook has a symbiotic relationship with its phone-based cousins so smooth synching of data is promised and apparently you can tether your phone’s data connection to the Playbook.
The only thing the PlayBook seems to lack is a firm launch date and any inkling of a price. I’ve played with most of the tablets on offer and I’m writing this on an iPad, but the Playbook (along with the Samsung Galaxy Tab) seems like a definite contender in the tablet wars.