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Experiences with Blackberry PlayBook

tech reviews Updated: Aug 29, 2011 16:09 IST
Shayon Pal
Shayon Pal
Hindustan Times
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I recently went ahead and bought the shiny new Blackberry PlayBook. Yes, I can hear the sneering among my readers. But then again, I also own a Blackberry Bold 9780, and I was pretty confident the combination of the Blackberry smartphone, along with my PlayBook, should be a killer one.

No, I was not too off the mark. Two reasons why I had decided to purchase RIM's tablet over the competition is the handy 7-inch size, and the fact that one doesn't need an extra 3G sim to be able to access the Internet while one's on the move. Additionally, since it's a 7 incher, it's an amazing device to read on. Now I can flip it out any time, anywhere, and catch up on the news that used to be pretty unconfortable on the 2.7 inch screen of my BB Bold.

Nonetheless, one week of usage and I am already feeling saddened by a couple of factors that I felt all should know about, before taking th plunge.

1. No native Instant Messenger apps. Forget Blackberry Messenger, not even GTalk or Skype. This is surely a nagging disappointment.

2. Limited text selection. The options of selecting a piece of text is superbly limited. For someone coming from the Blackberry phones' community, that's a let down.

3. No auto-correct. Typing on the touch screen is always tougher than doing it on the physical keyboard. And even though the on-screen keyboard of the playbook is top notch, absence of auto-correct is a bummer.

4. Non-standard design. In the Blackberry smartphone, the Alt key (used to type numbers and symbols) is on the second last row, and the Shift key is on the last row. In the Playbook, the Shift key is in the second last row and the Symbol key is in the last row. A little mindfulness while designing the keyboard would have made the experience so much more seamless.

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5. Slow Blackberry Bridge. I noticed that when I am reading an email, the read status doesn't change for quite a long time. Frankly, I have never seen the status change on its own in the max 2 minutes I have taken, yet, to read an email. I have needed to select another email or try replying to the email to be able to change its read status. Please don't tell me that it's intended design since that'll disappoint me all the more.

6. Whoever said a good browser can sort out the absence of the apps is so wrong! A simple example. The web Twitter interface for the Playbook is a killer. And yet, I miss the notification of receiving a mention or a DM.

7. Cannot create new tabs on the pane, nor can you create folders. Having every single app under the 'All' pane is such a pain in the rear.

8. They had said that playing games is never a pleasurable experience on the small screen of a Blackberry phones and hence no one ever develops a game for it. The Playbook has a decent sized screen and yet no one has developed a good game for it.

9. Despite all the super multitasking capabilities, I still find my browser tab refreshing when I come back to it from another application/game. At times, it refreshes even when I am switching from another Tab. I really don't know what's more shameful.

10. The cursor keeps getting lost at times. And there is no guarantee the keyboard will pop up on its own when you tap on a text area to type. Thank God RIM at least has a dedicated gesture to bring up the keyboard.

11. If I am reading my feeds on GReader on the browser, and try to email a story, the Playbook is unable to invoke the email client, the way it happens on the Blackberry phone.

12. You can't group emails on the Playbook.

13. If you have even one email as unread, the notification exclamation shall always remind you of the same, along with the star. Thus you can never know whether the so-called "new emails" are actually news or the ones you had checked before but have ignored to open them!

14. Miss the LED. Big time.

I know I have to be a Blackberry fanboy to say this, but I am still hopeful about RIM. I hear most of the above problems shall be solved by the time the next iteration of the QNX OS hits the RIM tablets. But everything said and done, I can never discount the fact that this 7 incher is the most portable tablet around.