With lack of apps, basic functionality, and average battery life, RIM Playbook is not an iPad challenger

Thu, Apr 14, 2011


RIM PlayBook reviews began trickling out today and suffice it to say, it’s no iPad killer. Though carrying an iPad-esque pricetag of $499, the PlayBook sports a smaller 7-inch screen and by all accounts comes with promising, albeit seemingly unpolished software.

Here’s what NYT Tech Columnsist David Pogue had to say about RIM’s foray into the tablet market.

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, Skype, no Notes app, no GPS app, no videochat, no Pandora radio and no Angry Birds? You should also know that even now, only days before the PlayBook goes on sale April 19, the software is buggy and still undergoing feverish daily revision. And the all-important BlackBerry Bridge feature is still in beta testing. It’s missing important features, like the ability to view e-mail file attachments or click a link in an e-mail.

No built-in email, eh? Interacting with your email through a web based browser? No ability to view attachments or click on email links? Are you kidding me?

Walt Mossberg, meanwhile, also harped on the lack of apps and could only recommend the PlayBook for folks who always walk around carrying a BlackBerry.

Unlike the iPad, which can run almost all of the 350,000 iPhone apps, the PlayBook can’t run any of the 27,000 BlackBerry apps. It will launch with only about 3,000 apps designed for tablets, compared with 65,000 tablet-optimized iPad apps.

Like Pogue, Mossberg was unimpressed by the lack of email, calendar, contact, and chat apps. And yes, while RIM has touted the upcoming release of an Android emulator to run all of those Android apps, and get that elusive “tonnage” RIM executives like to talk about, that’s a work in progress as well.

Mossberg, though, did have a good experience with the PlayBooks Flash player, calling the tablet’s ability to render Flash “far better than any Android advice. I couldn’t find a Flash video the PlayBook couldn’t handle, and it even breezed through a site written entirely in Flash, which other Flash-capable mobile devices couldn’t.”

One downside mentioned by Mossberg was battery life, which Uncle Walt found only lasted 5 hours with brightness set at 75% and Wi-Fi on.

With respect to Flash playback, however, Wired wasn’t so lucky.

During a round of Plants vs. Zombies, gameplay bogged down whenever the animation got intense. Every time I tried to access a Flash game on Facebook, the browser crashed. Yes, every single time. Say goodbye to your well-tended crops, Farmvillians. Another glaring flaw is the PlayBook’s complete lack of native e-mail, contacts and calendar apps. Want those apps? Log on to your Gmail account with the browser. RIM’s WebKit-based browser is about as stable as your bipolar uncle. App ecosystem is lacking. You’ll need to install a driver before you can connect it to your PC or Mac.

So for the same price as an entry level iPad, you get a tablet with a smaller screen, lower battery life, a scarcity of apps, under developed software, and overall bugginess.

An iPad killer? Hardly.

And if you’re not reviewed out, here’s Engadget’s in-depth review.



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