We have already seen a few of hands-on videos of the upcoming BlackBerry Playbook tablet but now thanks to Engadget we have a bit more in-depth info on this tablet. As you have probably heard BlackBerry Playbook runs QNX operating system that BlackBerry purchased in April last year which in combination with WebKit and Adobe Flash and Air and named it BlackBerry Tablet OS. It offers a very smooth and polished user interface and experience. It is set to be released in Q1 2011 and promises to be the first tablet to offer real multi-tasking as we have come to expect it from desktop operating systems such as Windows and Mac OS X. No info on the pricing yet but we expect it to be priced similarly to Apple iPad.
The BlackBerry Playbook’s most direct comptetition will currently be Samsung Galaxy Tab as they both pack a 7 inch screen (1024 x 600 px) but with Playbook being smaller and offering a more business look with black matt case. Connectivity is pretty standard with both rear and front facing cameras, mini-HDMI and micro-USB. A dedicated physical play/pause button is a nice addition but where Playbook kicks Samsung’s backside is the touch sensitive screen bezel that let’s you swipe different gestures on the side of the screen as well as on the screen itself – a feature that was previously found on Palm Pre.
The screen was very responsive and RIM promised to be even better once Playbook hits the shelves as there is still quite a lot of testing and optimizing to be done on the software. Where Samsung Galaxy Tab does beat Blackberry Playbook is the 3G connectivity it offers as Playbook will be WiFi only (with 4G version promised for this summer in the US) which will be a deal breaker for some her in the UK as we do not have any 4G network. At least it supports Bluetooth tethering via a Blackberry phone. Another feature that Galaxy Tab offers is making standard phone calls which makes it a bit more practical.
Now we have have come to the most sweet part of BlackBerry Playbook – the 1 GHz ARM Cortex A9 dual core processor which offers real multi-tasking as you can see from the video by Engadget below. They run Doom 3, 1080p, Music Player and Picture Slideshow at the same time and while the tablet did struggle a bit by the end still was very impressive.
BlackBerry Playbook multi-tasking demo
The BlackBerry Tablet OS operatign system shares some of the features with HP (Palm) WebOS but that is a great thing as we have absolutely loved it when it was released. But BlackBerry didn’t settle for just a copycat approch as they expanded on the webOS features with swiping from all the sides (top, bottom, left, right) compared to only swipe from bottom found in webOS. Also where BlackBerry borrowed some ideas was cards-like navigating through running applications. We also liked the control over how multi-tasking works offered by PlayBook which lets you choose different settings such as pausing all apps while viewing cards, pausing all apps only when you enter another and the “all singing, all dancing” mode that always runs all apps all the time.
Demoed apps were as impressive as the operating system itself with Music app looking good and polished offering basic functions. For your office document editing needs there is Documents To Go app which offers a full featureset but thanks to a good UI still looks very simple to use and so was the Adobe PDF reader.
The standout app for was definitely Web browser which not only offers very cleverly made tab browsing but is probably fastest browser on a tablet we have seen including very smooth pinch zooming and scrolling. See the web rendering speed versus iPad video below to see just how fast this tablet really is. It also offers full Flash support so you can even play Facebook games such as Farmville. The touchscreen keyboard is one of the best touch keyboards to date which continues BlackBerry’s tradition of offering products with great typeing experience that we have come to expect from its range of QWERTY smartphones.
BlackBerry Playbook vs Apple iPad web browser speed comparison
An overall impressive effort from BlackBerry as the Playbook offers very fast and smooth experience, smaller form factor makes it more comfortable to use then iPad and Galaxy Tab while real multi-tasking really shows what can be done with the righ hardware and optimised software. We would’ve wished that a 3G version of the Playbook would be offered to offer complete internet connectivity when on the go while App fans will also have little apps to choose from compared to the huge amount of apps currently available in both Apple AppStore and Android Market. Those issues aside which will be addressed with future revision of hardware and software BlackBerry could be onto something great with Playbook if it prices competetively.
BlackBerry Playbook specifications
- Size 194 mm x 130 mm x 10 mm
– Weight 400 g
– 7 inch multi-touch capacitive screen (1024 x 600 px)
– 1 GHz ARM Cortex A9 dual core processor
– 1 GB RAM – Full Adobe Flash 10.1 and HTML 5 support
– 3G connectivity via BlackBerry smarthpone
– integrated 4G connectivity
– WiFi a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1
– 1 x micro-USB, mini-HDMI
– 3 megapixel front-facing and 5 megapixel rear-facing camera
– Full HD 1080p video playback (H.264, MPEG4, WMV)
– BlackBerry Tablet OS