I bought a BlackBerry PlayBook on the 19th when it launched. I had been considering a tablet for some time, but the price had always been a little steep for me (especially since I’m trying to get out of debt and save up for school) and I didn’t want an Apple iPad 2, which had been recently released. Eugene and Jennilee jumped on the bandwagon though, so I fortunately got a chance to play with it and decided that it was too big and heavy for my tastes, and Apple’s iOS just wasn’t something I wanted (since I was going to eventually buy an iPod Touch to replace my dying Classic); the final nails in the coffin were its lack of Flash and true multitasking. Moving on though…
The PlayBook is quite an amazing piece of hardware. The new OS, QNX, is very intuitive and fun to use. It really blew Apple iOS away with its true multitasking, gesture immersive UI, and Flash capability. There are extra features like BlackBerry Bridge, internet tethering, dedicated apps from Adobe and EA Games, and a gorgeous 7″ display (which I believe is the sweet spot for tablets). In addition, RIM announced that there would be dedicated PIM (e-mail, calendar, contacts, tasks, notes, etc.) applications, Android/Java application support, both of which are not available right now; however, these options are keeping me on the fence with this device and after dropping down $900 (with taxes, warranties, and no additional accessories), is convincing me to return it before the 14 day deadline for returns. So, I spent most of last week waiting for applications, looking up ways to force my preferred file formats to work on the PlayBook (unsuccessfully, however, as conversion is necessary at this point), and researching alternative devices. Of the latter, I checked into what was available for Android tablets that were inexpensive, and I discovered a few worthy candidates: Archos 70 Internet Tablet, ViewSonic ViewTab 7, Barnes & Noble Nook Color, Acer Iconia Tab, and HTC Flyer. I was able to whittle this list down further; the Nook Color isn’t available in Canada, the Iconia Tab doesn’t have a 7″ variant available yet, and the Flyer is still in preorder state. So, I picked up the cheapest candidates – the Archos and the ViewTab – for $299 each. Both won’t be arriving anytime soon, so I may have to give up the PlayBook for now; I can always pick one up again later if I decide not to keep the other ones. However, I’m hopeful that I will find either tablet sufficient. Sadly, in the unlikely event that I decide to keep both, it would be much cheaper than the PlayBook alone due to the insanely low price. I won’t be expecting benchmark performance from such entry-level devices, but I hope to be able to upgrade to Honeycomb, since both tablets only come with Froyo.
It’s a strange balance – the PlayBook has performance and a polished interface UI with limited application availability and the Android tablets have a clunky and dated UI with applications galore. Which will I ultimately end up choosing? Only time will tell.
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