The BlackBerry PlayBook will soon move from vaporware to the real world. The seven-inch tablet will be available April 19 in 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB models that match the price of equivalent Apple iPad 2 models at $500, $600, and $700. The parity of storage capacity and price makes for a somewhat level playing field in comparing the two, so here are a few reasons that stand out to steer clear of the BlackBerry PlayBook.
Size- While the two tablets may seem evenly matched you're paying the same amount for a smaller device with the PlayBook. It's like going to a restaurant and having them tell you that the medium drink, and the large drink are both the same price--wouldn't you get the large drink? There are those, however, who consider the seven inch tablet to be a virtue--lighter and easier to work with one-handed. I'm just not one of them. I don't agree that those factors are worth sacrificing display size.
The jury is still out and there is plenty of passionate debate over whether the tablet can fill the role of mobile computing platform in place of a notebook PC. With a tablet like the iPad 2 or Xoom, there is at least enough screen real estate to take on some productivity tasks, but a tablet like the BlackBerry PlayBook is more like an oversized smartphone than a slim notebook and is too small to accomplish much more than you can with many smartphones.
3G Wireless- The BlackBerry tethering feature is sort of cool--being able to sync email and use the PlayBook as a larger external display for a BlackBerry smartphone (although not much larger as we just got done talking about). However, with the PlayBook, tethering with a BlackBerry smartphone isn't just a feature, it's a necessity. The initial PlayBook models will only be equipped with Wi-Fi, and will be unable to sync data with a BlackBerry Enterprise Server at all. Tablets like the iPad 2 and Xoom also come in 3G models with cellular networking to connect in areas where no wireless network is available.
Email- The PlayBook doesn't do email. Using BlackBerry Bridge to tether the PlayBook with a BlackBerry smartphone will allow some email functionality by enabling the smartphone connection with BES to pass through to the tablet. As for email outside of BES, RIM suggests using the Web to get to it--like logging into Outlook Web Access. An update is planned for later this year which will supposedly give the PlayBook the ability to connect to BES natively, and possible expand other email options, but for a tablet aimed primarily at business users this wonky email setup is a severe handicap.
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