Mixed Reviews for Blackberry’s Tablet, But Will It Be a Good Enterprise Device?
The first reviews are coming in for the long-awaited Blackberry PlayBook, RIM’s new tablet. Now granted, the iPad is a tough act to follow (unless perhaps you’re the iPad 2), and most of the recent tablet entries have failed to win over fans, critics, or customers. Based on some of the early reviews, the PlayBook faces a similar uphill battle.
Many of the reviews published over the last few days have focused on the same issues: solid hardware, but not enough apps. Of particular concern – or bafflement, even – is the fact that the PlayBook lacks some of the most basic apps, including email, contact, a calendar, a notepad, or even RIM’s famously popular BlackBerry Messager system.
Some Sample Reviews
BGR’s Jonathan Geller: “Those used to Research In Motion’s old ways will be pretty shocked with the BlackBerry PlayBook’s hardware specifications. This is a whole new chapter in RIM’s history, and the company is coming out swinging. The PlayBook features a screaming 1GHz dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM, a 5-megapixel rear camera, a 3-megapixel front-facing camera, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 1080p HD video playback with an HDMI-out port, a 3.5mm headset jack and a microphone, all wrapped up in a super sleek 10mm-thin package. The PlayBook’s 7-inch display is beautiful, and the 1024 x 600 resolution packs a lot of pixels into a tight space. Colors are rich and vibrant, and black levels seem quite good, as do with viewing angles.”
The Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg: “This odd system, aimed at pleasing security-concerned corporate customers, doesn’t work with other smartphones. So, in my view, even though Bridge is a neat technical feat, it makes the PlayBook a companion to a BlackBerry phone rather than a fully independent device. That may be fine for dedicated BlackBerry owners, but it isn’t so great for people with other phones.
RIM says it is planning to add built-in cellular data, email, contacts, calendar and the other missing core features to the PlayBook this summer, via software updates. But until then, I can’t recommend the PlayBook over a fully standalone tablet, except possibly for folks whose BlackBerrys never leave their sides.”
Engadget’s Tim Stevens: “Writing this review has been a lot like trying to hit a moving target thanks to a series of software updates that have been dropping every few days. The PlayBook of today is considerably better than the PlayBook of yesterday, which also was a big step forward from the one we were reviewing two days before that. This is both encouraging and worrying — encouraging that RIM is actively working to improve things, but worrying that things as critical as memory management are still being tweaked at the eleventh hour.
This means we’re not entirely sure what the PlayBook that goes on sale next week will look like.”
The New York Times’ David Pogue: “For now, the PlayBook’s motto might be, “There’s no app for that.”
No existing apps run on this all-new operating system, not even BlackBerry phone apps. (R.I.M. says an emulator that will run BlackBerry apps will come later this year.)
So the company has decided to start from scratch with an all-new app store for the PlayBook. The company says that it has 3,000 submissions already, in part because it offered a free PlayBook to anyone who’d write an app. But they won’t be revealed until next week. (Reviewers were shown only a skeletal store with a few dozen lame apps in it.)”
Wired’s Mike Isaac: “The bottom line: It’s a well-constructed device with great media-viewing capabilities, solid hardware specs and a price on par with the current tablet market. But with serious gaps in key areas like app selection and Flash stability, you may want to think twice before picking one up.”
That’s What Critics Say. What About Enterprise Customers?
In addition to the repeated complaints about the lack of apps, another strand repeats in many of these reviews: this may well be a solid tablet for the enterprise. Indeed, BlackBerry still retains its cachet among enterprise users, and as the tablet seems to only obtain full functionality when used alongside the BlackBerry phone (for now, at least), then it may face less of a difficult sell there.
While many of these early reviews frown on the tablet and its possible many consumers will as well, RIM’s new tablet may meet the needs of the enterprise. And if 2011 is the year of the tablet, then enterprise users may well find this tablet suits their needs.