PlayBook Review: Toronto Mike vs. RIM

tabletWhen HP sent me a Touchpad in July, I dove into the tablet market for the first time. The Touchpad didn't make it, but it got me wondering if there's a viable iPad alternative out there. No doubt Apple's iPad is a dominating #1, but what's #2?

I've been playing with RIM's Blackberry Playbook since August. What better day to publish a review of the PlayBook than the day after RIM's financial results told us how little demand there is for this device. The numbers tell us there really isn't a tablet market... there's an iPad market.

RIM's Playbook arrived with a very cool soft cover that made transporting it a breeze. I don't know why all tablets don't come with such a shield. This thing does the job perfectly, and I never felt a need to use any other case.


As much as I liked the case it comes with, I hated the power button. Of all the tablets I've tried this summer, none of them had a more frustrating power button. It's simply too small and in a very awkward place.


Those of you with iPads will notice how much smaller the PlayBook is by comparison. It's 7 inches vs. 10 inches, but you can't appreciate the size difference until you've held a PlayBook in your hand. It's this 7-inch size that had me loving the PlayBook. If I were Apple, I'd launch a 7-inch iPad. In my experience, 7-inches is the sweet spot (insert joke here).


In addition to the size, my favourite part of the PlayBook very well could be your least favourite part. You see, my smart phone is a Blackberry, and Blackberry smart phones sync wonderfully with the Blackberry PlayBook. You use an app called BlackBerry Bridge to get your messages, calendar and BBM on your PlayBook. You can also tether via Bluetooth to smart phones, if you're not near a wifi hotspot.


Now, if I didn't own a Blackberry, the Blackberry Bridge would be useless to me, and the value would be completely lost. At least the tethering doesn't depend on a Blackberry smartphone.

When I first wrote about the TouchPad, I complained about the lack of apps. I didn't have that problem with the PlayBook. I found a good one for Facebook, Twitter and the usual suspects.

If you're already using a Blackberry phone, I think you'd find great value in owning a PlayBook. The Blackberry Bridge works great, and the 7-inch tablet is the perfect size and ideal to do just about anything you'd want to do on a tablet.

RIM is trying to make headway in a market completely dominated by one company. Here's hoping they don't end up where HP ended up, because they've got a pretty good device here. Terrible power button notwithstanding.

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If you are in the market for a Playbook, you might want to wait a bit. With the terrible sales numbers RIM just announced, there are rumours of a price cut just around the corner.

September 16, 2011 @ 2:48 PM


They are also set to release a wifi only version real soon now for those of us that use useful smart phones.

I like the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7" for the same reason as Mike, I think the 10" iPad is great, but for portability the 7" format seems perfect.

Now, I just need to start a blog, get 40M visitor like Mike and post a message that I like the Samsung Galaxy Tab and maybe they will send me one ;-)


September 16, 2011 @ 4:42 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike


Great idea. I'd like a Samsung Galaxy Tab, please. Samsung, it's your move...

September 16, 2011 @ 4:44 PM


I told you you'd hate the power button.
However OK's that decision should be fired. Just a horrible interface...

I'd really like them to survive... but with the stock price where it is there are some bigger fish out there with a lot of cash that might want to swallow it whole.

As a loyal BB user since the BlueBerry era, I switched this past April to a competitor and I haven't looked back.


September 16, 2011 @ 6:07 PM


It has a book bag like cover, so to speak. Does it work as an e-reader?

September 16, 2011 @ 6:17 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

Kobo comes pre-installed on the PlayBook.

I'm not much of an eReader, but it looks like Kobo supports a bunch of eBook standards.

September 16, 2011 @ 6:29 PM


I've owned the Playbook since early May and in all that time of constant use I've used the power button maybe 10 times and never had a problem with its operation. You see, the UI makes the power button almost unnecessary and that is why it is small. The QNX powered OS is a new paradigm and the most advanced on the market. It really is a sweet device.

September 17, 2011 @ 8:50 AM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike


I like the device very much, as you'll read. But I sincerely hate that power button and must use it more often than you do. I usually struggle with it, trying to hit it three times before succeeding... and finding it in the dark is a serious pain in the ass.

When it comes to power buttons, the TouchPad is actually my favourite. It's easy to find and big enough to hit.

September 17, 2011 @ 9:09 AM


Thanks for the review, Mike. Fair and intelligent, as always.

My initial instinct would be to go for the larger 10", because as I have mentioned on this blog before, I have low vision and in a case like this, bigger will often be better -- or at the very least, more user friendly and suitable to me.

However, I have just learned how to use a 4" HTC smartphone combined with enough market apps for texting and reading that replace the stock font so it's big enough for me to see. So now that my eyes have adjusted to the smaller size, perhaps a playbook would be a good idea after all.

Definitely worth looking into some more. Thanks once again!

September 17, 2011 @ 7:17 PM


i have been trying to decide between a playbook and a e-reader with wifi, And to my surprise have had the floor people at B#stBcy and F#turcshcp told me a variety of catastrophic tales about the playbook.

Who do i belive?

December 1, 2011 @ 6:34 PM

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