BlackBerry tablet called 'half baked' product
Saturday, 16 April 2011, 06:57 IST
Toronto: The BlackBerry PlayBook tablet has received mixed reviews before its launch April 19. The New York Times calls the PlayBook a "half baked'' product, adding that "it seems almost silly to try to assess it, let alone buy it.'' The BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIM) has touted the 7-inch PlayBook as a rival to Apple's 10-inch iPad 2. Its initial only-Wi-Fi version comes in three models, featuring 16GB, 32GB or 64GB of storage at $499, $599 and $699 respectively. Though reviewers have praised its all-new QNX operating system, Flash-capable web browser (which Apple doesn't offer) and smart interface, the tablet has not found much favour because of lack of apps as compared to the iPad 2. Further, the PlayBook is only Wi-Fi and it cannot connect to mobile networks, unlike the rival tablets from Apple, Motorola and Samsung. As a result, important apps like email, contacts and BlackBerry Messenger will be available only when the tablet is linked with your BlackBerry smart phone through BlackBerry Bridge. So if you are not a BlackBerry user, forget about using email or other important apps on the tablet. Criticizing RIM for not putting such crucial apps on the tablet, the New York Times review says that "at the moment, BlackBerry Bridge is the only way to do e-mail, calendar, address book and BlackBerry Messenger on the PlayBook. The PlayBook does not have e-mail, calendar or address book apps of its own. You read that right. RIM has just shipped a BlackBerry product that cannot do e-mail. It must be skating season in hell. (RIM says that those missing apps will come this summer.) "Unfortunately, there's no video chatting app, as with Android tablets and the iPad. Similarly, the tablet has GPS, but without turn-by-turn navigation software, it's not good for much other than the built-in Bing Maps app." The review adds, "For now, the PlayBook's motto might be, 'There's no app for that.' No existing apps run on this all-new operating system, not even BlackBerry phone apps.'' RIM claims to have received about 3,000 submissions from developers to supply apps to its all-new app store for the PlayBook. But this small number of apps won't convince people to buy the PlayBook, says the review. "Remember, the primary competition is an iPad - the same price, but much thinner, much bigger screen and a library of 300,000 apps. In that light, does it make sense to buy a fledgling tablet with no built-in e-mail or calendar, no cellular connection, no videochat, no Skype, no Notes app, no GPS app, no videochat, no Pandora radio and no Angry Birds?'' In its review, Bloomberg is also not sure whether RIM's "gamble'' to put a device without "promised features and apps'' is "going to pay off. But it (the PlayBook) has already succeeded in important way - it has made BlackBerry relevant again.'' Since RIM has promised more software apps and Android compatibility this summer, Engadget says in its review, "So, what we see at the moment is a framework with solid fundamentals but a framework that is, right now, unfinished. We have hardware that looks and feels great but isn't being fully served by the software. "Right now, the BlackBerry PlayBook is a tablet that will come close to satisfying those users who gravitate toward the first word in its name: BlackBerry. Those who were more excited about the 'play' part would be well advised to look elsewhere, at least until Android compatibility joins the party.''