RIM introduces it's tablet.. the PlayBook

mattCR

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The engadget review is kind of ridiculous ... which isn't unheard of, to be honest, I can't think of any product they've ever reviewed where I took most of their review seriously..


I will add this: I have now had a playbook in my hands for about 6 hours. There are a few things I would say, but without outting my client who provided it, there are some fundamental errors in these reviews... first, the app store is basically locked. So, talking about few apps available isn't really the point, since I don't think the AppWorld is actually expected to go live for a few days. Second, the comments about the power button make me wonder about how they are using it.. it wakes up just fine via gesture without needing to find the power button; so either I have a radically different result then them, or ... the power button is literally a power button.. on/off, but it hibernates and wakes up via gesture, immediately rushing for the power button is the wrong idea.


The thing is, there are lots of things I like so far, but I come back to my basic problem: I can't find a use for any tablet. My wife has the iPad (1, I haven't jumped to a 2 yet, and not really feeling pressure to do so, thankfully) and while there are some thoughts that are cool, I just don't see anything on here that pushes me to "do" it outside of my client who will be using these, so I need to know how they work.

I'm not sure about the "flash being landmines" I'd have to think of something to try that. So far, no issues with Youtube, Hulu or most websites I've tried (ABC/CBS/etc.) so I'm not sure where that comes in.


Again, though, it still brings me back to my original thought......... I can't find a hard purpose for any of these. Maybe that problem is just me. I will say in a comparison to the Xoom, I don't know why anyone would grab a much more expensive Xoom which my experience was total crap with.
 

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Engadget's comments are almost the polar opposite from TechCrunch. But even so, they had problems. To summarize: The browser is great except for frequent crashing.


RIM has provided a full Webkit browser for you to get your surf on, and it's a reasonably good one. Pages load quickly and naturally are rendered in full desktop mode, with all the pinch-to-zoom goodness and snappy motion you'd expect. Flash Player 10.1 is on-board and works well. YouTube videos play perfectly fine and stutter-free when embedded within pages, though there is a dedicated YouTube app you can use if you like. Even Flash games like Bejeweled play well, important if you're still riding that particular horse.

We ran the browser through SunSpider JavaScript test, where it returned a quite healthy 2,360. That's maybe 10 percent slower than the iPad 2 and Motorola Xoom manage, but still quite respectable.

We should note that we noticed some weirdness in the browser with the most recent (third) revision of the PlayBook software we received. When the system was running under load, with numerous other apps hanging around in the background, the browser would frequently and disconcertingly close. It would simply disappear about half-way through loading whatever page we tried. Closing a few apps seemed to fix it, but behavior like this is always a little unnerving.

Glitches aside from premature release, the core OS and UI sounds nice. Some bevel-swiping gestures borrowed from WebOS (nee PalmOS), that seemed like a clever idea when I saw it two years ago on the first Pre. Solid video playback both on board and to an external display. I can only assume the Bridge is drool-worthy for Crackberry Corporate users.
 

mattCR

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They had another micro update today; so I will concur that there are apparently a flood of updates and we might see more before the launch day; I'm betting the first thing people will need to do is get wifi connected and download software. That part that people mention is dead on. So far, I haven't seen browser crashes at sites I've tried.. it works here just fine (AND I can hit Return and get a new paragraph in the reply box!!)
 

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Hmmm... How do all these tablets handle main memory? Do they all use some reasonable virtual memory scheme? Maybe the Playbook's web browser and/or (virtual?) memory management is not playing nice in that revision of the software. But given the limited amount of flash memory available for storage, maybe none of them actually implement virtual memory management and just have hard caps tied to available main physical memory -- and maybe the Playbook is just not handling the cap hit gracefully enough in that particular case...


Anyway, sounds interesting so far though still can't see anyone other than corporate users for it at this point -- and these days, maybe even corporate customers are leaning more and more towards going for the iPad and/or whichever Android tablet product line makes a compelling, truly successful launch...


_Man_
 

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didn't realize reviewers were working on pre-release hardware. I'm used to Apple where it seems reviews come out almost on top of launch and using release hardware and software.


Ah, Matt, so you've got a Playbook? Sly dog, keeping that from us :)


Also of note, it has better cameras than the iPad; which might be more useful in a 7" format.
 

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DaveF

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Nope. The iPad's cameras are clearly meant only for home video and FaceTime. Nothing useful there for photography.


And I agree...I still don't understand the market for the Playbook. I can only look at my company (a conservative engineering division of a large multi-national): they're not going to buy Playbooks for their BB users. There's no business case, no benefit to this thumb-emailers. And the Playbook is clearly no competition to the iPad for the home user.


Maybe it will be bought by BB users on their own dime. Since they've got to use a BB anyway, get a tablet that plays well with that. Given RIM's marketshare, that may amount to no small sales. Or there are corporate uses that I can't see from my slice of business.


I'm quite interested in hearing from Matt what the use model is for this device.
 

mattCR

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I'm not really sure what the use project for this is. The client that I am working with this on does nationwide distribution through retailers of endcap product (the kind of thing you buy in a checkout isle). Don't laugh, these little $10 nothing items are a pretty big business. Anyway, their purpose for it makes sense, they have a commitment for a fair chunk of them, so we pulled together 3 in "advance" to test with their ordering system. The ordering system basically submits to their custom software an EDI order, that order is transmitted to the manufacturer and warehouse and walla, tons of (endcap product) ships to a Target store in joeblow, tennessee (or wherever). I'm not all that convinced this is any better at all compared to their old option (where the sales guys and the people who went to trade shows carried netbooks). As for the cameras.. yeh, that's interesting. I'm not sure about that. Some of the people in this clients employ carry blackberry because of the way the camera function can be hardware locked out (made useless). This is because they don't want sales people are kind of "eh" and flightly and can hop company to company, and the ownership is all paranoid about people taking pictures of their winter product line (patent pending) and leaking it over to competitors.. ah! The world we go through.. I think the one draw to the playbook for them is the paranoid one; the ability to access the HDD on these thiings over the internet from anywhere and wipe them dead clean. IF that holds true, it's a cool little feature for the paranoid. I haven't tested anything like that yet . I've spent the evening getting txts about "have you tried..." I think the hardware here is pretty nice; I will wait and see.


We often get asked to support crazy things. I have someone else who has everyone with the iPad/iPad 2 just so they can remote desktop back to a Windows2003 server and run peachtree. (and FYI, if there is ANY app that should never be run through a touch system, it's Peachtree accounting). So, this is definitely not the craziest thing I've seen.
 

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One thing just came to mind. Does the PlayBook OS actually inherit the robust(?) realtime OS architecture of QNX? I honestly don't know anything about QNX, but if this tablet can do true real-time concurrency stuff, then that's one notable business oriented (maybe even mission critical) advantage it holds over all the other tablet OSes near as I can tell.


For instance, that could be important if anyone ever wants to develop and deploy realtime trading system apps (or do stuff like processing realtime live quote/trading data feeds) on these things. Don't think you can seriously do that on an iPad w/ its seemingly minimal multitasking capability...


Also, maybe the fact that it doesn't really hold much appeal to average consumers (and isn't really marketed that way) is a real plus for the corporate market/environment as there's less concerns about mixing risky, bleeding edge fun stuff w/ more serious, business/mission-critical stuff. Maybe it'll also market well to government agencies and such because of that...


_Man_
 

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It's not for consumers / home use.


http://www.bgr.com/2011/04/13/blackberry-playbook-review/

RIM has desperately been trying to position the PlayBook as a standalone product, one that doesn’t have to be used in conjunction with a BlackBerry phone in order to be useful. Unfortunately, that’s just not the case. While the BlackBerry PlayBook can pair with any BlackBerry device running BlackBerry OS 5 or higher (basically every device out there, for the most part) and act as an amazing extension of your phone — one that includes all of your personal and corporate email, BlackBerry Messenger, contacts, and other important apps. But these key apps are not available without a paired phone. There is no native mail app, contacts app, or calendar app. Looking to the near future, I’m told that these are absolutely coming in the future through a free software update.
(emphasis added)
 

mattCR

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Originally Posted by DaveF

Matt - In your project, is there some magic sauce in the Playbook lacking from iPad or Android Tablets that make the Playbook the only possible tablet for the job?


You can destroy all data on Playbook remotely and have it bricked; and you can have all data natively encrypted requiring login against a validated password. I'm not aware of those functions elsewhere. I don't know, not my choice, I really don't ever care what the client uses. If they brought me Windows Phones and told me that's what they were doing, I'd say "Fine" as long as their check cleared ;) My only job is to make it work the way they expect. I'll take a few days and play with it.
 

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Originally Posted by DaveF

I thought you might have advised on the platform selection and had some insights as to the use of PB over other. :)


Nope. If I did I would have still been pushing to stick with netbooks. I almost never get a say in this. I support about 14 clients right now.. from big to small. So, I've racked up some good and bad experiences with a lot of things. I will admit, I have some preferences; as a WORK phone, I tend to prefer Blackberry. It's easy to setup security on them, it's easy to remote administer them, and generally it locks people out of things we don't want. So, of all the smart phones for a business client, if I was asked, that's what I'd tell them. But I have clients that are all Apple, all iPhone, and we now have one that switched all over to Android.


I will say this: out of all of the platforms, Android is the shittiest. I realize this is super unpopular with the geekbois on websites everywhere, but managing android phones from a network perspective is like hearding cats; a bit like an office of all hodge podge computers thrown together by some kid. With Blackberry, you have a firm consistent playing field and you know exactly how they will react and with BES you've got instant control over them. With iPhone, you inherit some problems that make me grit my teeth, but it's livable you know what to expect, you can manage expectations and you can make the user happy.. Android is a constant moving target. You never know what the hell the end user really has, what they have enabled or not and there isn't a security method for them that I find "universal" at all. It is a gigantic PITA.

I don't have anyone running WP7. I had one client that thought about it, because there is one thing that so far only Blackberry does that WP7 was supposed to support.. and yet, it just doesn't work quite right yet (though MS said "we're working on it" so maybe for a later update)


See, here 1AM and I'm still fooling with it. The thing is, I assume reviewers have had this for some time. I've had since late afternoon my time. So far, I haven't run into crashes. But I see some of the good and the bad here. There are some things that I think are pretty slick, and I've figured out how to solve the one issue we worried about (a hardware lock on the cameras to disable them) but mostly it's about real feasibility.

In the end, I think a CONSUMER would/should take the iPad. I don't think this is a reason to jump. I think there are some things here for a business consumer that are very interesting. And if you're running BES, I can completely understand why this leaps straight to the front. But I don't see this as a consumer type pad. I think BB would be way better off if they decided that they will just go a different way. Because if they can shore up the other side of this thing, as a business component, it's pretty snap.
 

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MacWorld weighs in

http://www.macworld.com/article/159237/2011/04/playbook.html#lsrc.rss_main



Matt, thanks for the comments. Interesting.


It seems RIM is lost at sea. They've got a tablet, because, well, you need a tablet today. But who's it for? Their business customers: then why waste time with Android compatibility? Why the focus on playing movies? Where's the demos of PowerPoint presentations and email management? Consumers: why's it require a BB to work? How is it going out missing basics of email and calendar?


The reviews indicate good hardware, good OS, but shoddy software and a lack of vision or purpose behind it.
 

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I don't know Dave. After having played with it for two days now, I see a lot of promise to it. There is a lot of power under the hood, and some of the things work better then I expected. Some options are pretty flat out cool. What I find myself asking is: why would you consider a Xoom or Galaxy Tab? I don't mean that as a lark, but seriously. I think the iPad is going to be the home users choice. But if I were to chose between this and the Xoom or the Tab, which I have so far found to be super clunky, I can't find a reason why I would ever fool with those. The web browser on the Playbook looks and feels far better then the one on the Tab. It is fast, and functionality is very good; when trying streaming direct content, so far, success.

I will say this: so far we've had an OS update almost every day. So I still have no real idea how this shakes out on the 19th. But I'm very pleased with the concept. It's an attempt to go in a very different way. The network BES related usage could be phenomenal. As a corporate tablet, some of the options here are pretty fantastic.

I think the key to this is to market it as an enterprise friendly tablet that -can- do "fun" if needed. I don't think the business customers care about android compatibility.. but you have to sell to more then them. I think you include basics (like playing movies etc.) because more and more presentations are geared around video presentation capability.. so throwing in those options are basically a requirement why not throw in.. .... as far as "demos of powerpoint presentation" ? I'm unsure of what you mean there; I've played with the Powerpoint options, and quite frankly, all of the office options are pretty exceptional. Markup and click through options work, virtual pinpoint, I'm not sure what more they can show with that. The thing is, reviews really don't care about that, I haven't seen a single one talk about it.. which doesn't mean it isn't there, let's just say it's assumed that it is and it isn't the sexiest thing to say "oh, and it does a virtual pointer system for powerpoint..."
 

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What I mean is: had you not told me, I wouldn't have known there is any sort of Office compatibility or PowerPoint tools for the PlayBook. Googling around doesn't turn up anything except something about "Office 365", whatever that is. Maybe that's a failing of the reviewers. Perhaps if I visited RIM's website, I'd see it there?


If business use was front and center the goal of the PB, I'd think they'd be touting its business uses, and even providing some tools too reviewers to consider those uses.


And given the PB is a complete non-starter for the home user, I'd guess, as an armchair QB :), that they'd do well to go after corporate america and not worry about the consumer business for now.


Perhaps they'll iterate quickly. I agree, I see interesting and powerful fundamentals. We'll see if they can build on it, and sell it.
 

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Dave: I'd agree with you they haven't figured out how to market the thing. I think if you look at the reviews, most of them are saying pretty much what I am: the hardware and the experience are actually pretty incredible. The software needs work. But the base of it is.. nice. I can't think of a single reason why I'd chose an Android tablet - especially ones like the Xoom which is a high expense, low return, over the Playbook. The Galaxy Tab seems horribly underpowered in comparison, and even some of the base functions it doesn't do nearly as well. It's not a natural competitor to the iPad.. but I can see with some minor software fixes, this thing really makes it almost impossible for me to consider a Xoom/etc. for any of the Android tablets.
 

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Originally Posted by mattCR

Dave: I'd agree with you they haven't figured out how to market the thing. I think if you look at the reviews, most of them are saying pretty much what I am: the hardware and the experience are actually pretty incredible. The software needs work. But the base of it is.. nice. I can't think of a single reason why I'd chose an Android tablet - especially ones like the Xoom which is a high expense, low return, over the Playbook. The Galaxy Tab seems horribly underpowered in comparison, and even some of the base functions it doesn't do nearly as well. It's not a natural competitor to the iPad.. but I can see with some minor software fixes, this thing really makes it almost impossible for me to consider a Xoom/etc. for any of the Android tablets.

But for how long will Android struggle on a tablet? Surely given 6 months Android will have been refined beyond the BlackBerry. I mean, BlackBerry are on an absolute collapse, surely?
I also concur with this general feeling that RIM haven't got either the home or work market on board with the Playbook. Finally, did everyone hear about the last couple of interviews given by the co CEOs? There was one walkout and one iffy performance involved. They are under lots of pressure.
 

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