Blackberry playbook, so close, so very very far

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No Hulu, no netflix, no Kindle, no Email/calendar, no twitter client… just to name a few glaring shortcomings.

Awesome screen, great size, interesting and capable OS just to name a few of it’s strongest points.

I got my playbook (finally) about 2 weeks ago, and was holding off on my review to give it a little while to stabilize. It hasn’t yet, so this review may see a part two but I thought I’d get my thoughts down on on the playbook at the time of it’s launch.

In short, it’s not there. If you own a crack berry phone, it might be just what you need/want, since you’d have the missing apps on your phone, and email/PIM stuff via the bridge.

I love the size, I know Apple thinks a small tablet is stupid (though they seem to think shrinking laptops is ok) but I love the idea of something I can throw in my bag or my shorts pocket and be productive. Since getting useful tablets, my iPhone is basically a twitter/checkin device, and I suppose a phone. Everything else is done on the tablets. So a nice usable small device to supplement my main laptop or even another tablet is nice.

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The screen is truly awesome. I’m very impressed with it, when watching video. I don’t need a dedicated video device, when I have a Xoom, an iPad and an iPhone, but if I did, the Playbook would be it.

The OS is interesting, for sure, the interactive bezel is great, though it takes some getting used to, and to remember what swiping this way and that do. BUT it’s nice that those bezels are more than just space wasters. Kudos to RIM.

The gestures are great for getting around. It doesn’t capture well in a screen shot, but things are active when switching, Up kept playing until I picked a new app, Need For Speed was rotating my car until I selected a different app. It’s nice that things don’t immediately stop.

The AppWorld.

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What a nightmare. I’m honestly surprised by the app world. I know RIM was giving away devices to anyone who submitted an app, yet there’s no twitter app? really? No one built a twitter app? Apparently someone built an Email app (the same devs who built the VNC app I bought) but it’s still in review (sounds like there’s some suspicion it’s intentional)

The thing that makes the Playbook useless, is it’s lack of apps. It’s a serious bummer, given how hard RIM was pushing to get developers on board. I honestly can’t imagine someone didn’t build the missing apps. Either all the devs assumed someone else was building the twitter app and the gouge reader interface app, or RIM for some reason is not approving those apps. I don’t know which, but it doesn’t really matter. The apps that are most important are missing from the Playbook.

Stuff like hulu, and netflix I can understand, tho I hope they at least tried to get a deal with netflix and failed vs. didn’t even try.

Stuff that right now requires the bridge I can understand (tho it’s a collossal fuck up) and my understanding is it will be fixed come a ‘future update’. But things like twitter, google reader (there is one, but it doesn’t work), alternate browsers, google docs! and more are missing and basically leave the playbook dead in the water.

I have hopes (not high ones) that RIM will be very quick with OS updates (by the time my device arrived, one was already out) that fill in some of these really glaring gaps in usability. I also hope that some of the developers who had apps approved, were holding them

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back to test on a device, and the app world will see moderate flooding of good apps in the very near term.

I did pick up a VNC App (aVNC) which sorta works, but has a ways to go. But in a pinch I could make do with it.




Desktop integration

There isn’t any (for the mac). Ok that’s not 100% true but here’s my experience. I plugged my playbook in and it was detected (as an IP address oddly enough) in my finder. I could browse the file system, move files to and from, etc. On the PB screen it said, go get the desktop app. I did, it installed just fine, even found the previous data file from when I had my torch. It never saw the playbook. I told it to look for new devices, nothing. I cleared out the torch, nothing. I unplugged and re-plugged in the PB while the app was running, nada. I closed the app, then plugged in the device since it has a helper that runs, still nothing. I don’t know if the desktop mac app just hasn’t been updated or if it was my machine, but in either case, no joy.



I like the Playbook for what it can be. I like my Xoom and iPad for what they are. They have huge potential too, and I’m not worried they’ll live up to it. The Playbook is more of an uncertainty. I’ve decided that RIM has two months to get their house in order. They pushed one OS update out very fast, in two months, I expect at least 1 if not 2 more. I think that’s fair, you can’t compete today if you take 6 mos. to a year for every update. If in two months, there’s no native Email, twitter, news reader apps… well I’ll see what the Ebay market is like, probably not good, maybe it’ll be a gift to someone who doesn’t need better tech.

Of course it’s almost summer and there’s always HP and WebOS to hope for.

By John Wilker

I'm a science fiction writer and conference organizer. In 2017 I published my first book, 'Space Rogues', a fun Sci-Fi adventure with a fun cast of characters. I'm also the co-founder of 360|Conferences, a conference and event logistics consulting company.

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