When 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.