Pogue reviews RIM’s BlackBerry PlayBook: Half-baked, buggy, and missing important features

Research In Motion’s BlackBerry PlayBook is “a seven-inch touch-screen tablet ($500, $600, and $700 for the 16-, 32- and 64-gigabyte models [WiFi-only]),” David Pogue reports for The New York Times.

“The iPad, of course, is a 10-incher, but seven has its virtues. It’s much easier to hold with one hand, for example. In principle, you ought to be able to slip the PlayBook into the breast pocket of a jacket — but incredibly, the PlayBook is about half an inch too wide,” Pogue reports. “Whoever muffed that design spec should be barred from the launch party… Its software is based on an operating system called QNX, which Research In Motion, the BlackBerry’s maker, bought for its industrial stability. (‘It runs nuclear power plants,’ says a product manager without a trace of current-events irony).”

Pogue reports, “With a special HDMI cable (not included), you can hook it up to a TV or projector, which is great for PowerPoint presentations. (Apparently they still do those in corporations.) The iPad does that, but the TV image is identical to the iPad’s screen image. The PlayBook, however, can show two different things.”

MacDailyNews Take: Not true. The can “show two different things” (dual display), too:

Pogue reports, “At the moment, BlackBerry Bridge is the only way to do e-mail, calendar, address book and BlackBerry Messenger on the PlayBook. The PlayBook does not have e-mail, calendar or address book apps of its own. You read that right. R.I.M. has just shipped a BlackBerry product that cannot do e-mail. It must be skating season in hell. (R.I.M. says that those missing apps will come this summer.)”

MacDailyNews Take: Another pretend iPad rushed to market.

Pogue reports, “And that’s just the beginning. 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.”

“In its current half-baked form, it seems almost silly to try to assess [the PlayBook], let alone buy it,” Pogue reports. “Remember, the primary competition is an iPad — the same price, but much thinner, much bigger screen [PlayBook’s screen is only 45% as large as iPad’s] and a library of 300,000 apps. In that light, does it make sense to buy a fledgling tablet with no built-in e-mail or calendar, no cellular connection, no videochat, Skype, no Notes app, no GPS app, no videochat, no Pandora radio and no Angry Birds? You should also know that even now, only days before the PlayBook goes on sale April 19, the software is buggy and still undergoing feverish daily revision. And the all-important BlackBerry Bridge feature is still in beta testing. It’s missing important features, like the ability to view e-mail file attachments or click a link in an e-mail.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: See previous Take; add “half-assed” before “pretend.”

Note also that the tiny-screened PlayBook’s battery doesn’t cut it either. The Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg reports in his PlayBook review, “Battery life also fell short in my tests. With the screen brightness at about 75% and Wi-Fi on, I played a movie I had transferred from a computer over and over until the juice ran out. The PlayBook lasted a bit over five hours, well short of the company’s claim of eight to 10 hours for mixed use. In mixed use, and on a second test of watching video with Wi-Fi off, I did better, over six hours, but well short of the 10 hours on the iPad 2.” Full review here.

Related articles:
Gartner: Apple iOS to dominate tablet market through 2015, owning over 50% of market for next three years – April 11, 2011
Apple’s revolutionary iPad causes collateral damage to would-be rivals – April 7, 2011
Gassée: ‘The inmates have taken over the asylum’ at BlackBerry-maker RIM – March 28, 2011
Loss of faith in RIM deepens as tiny-screened ‘PlayBook’ tweener debut nears – March 25, 2011
RIM shares drop as marketing chief leaves company on eve of supposed PlayBook launch – March 4, 2011
Developer: RIM Playbook’s development process is terribly designed; I quit – February 26, 2011
Analyst: RIM’s expensive, flawed PlayBook tablet will be poorly received – February 1, 2011
RIM PlayBook will ship without email, calendar; not a fully standalone device, requires BlackBerry – January 17, 2011
RIM half-CEO Jim Balsillie: ‘PlayBook redefines what a tablet should do’ – December 17, 2010


  1. iPads have been banned from the company I work for…
    The PlayBook is ALREADY considered a Corporate standard, and they haven’t even tried it! IT is scared of everything with an Apple logo on it! Pathetic…

  2. so wait it can’t do email, calender or an address book. and it doesn’t have any apps. So that leaves the question what can the playbook actually do? Who is going to use it?

  3. Think of buying an electronic device in terms of NASA sending men to the moon.

    With the iPad, you’ll get all the way there, land and return to Earth.

    With the Playbook, you’ll perhaps breach the atmosphere unless the OS crashes, you won’t be able to communicate with Mission Control (though they’re working on that and may have it up and running over the next several days) and assuming you reach the moon, you won’t have any tools (apps) to do any science with once you get there.

    When I drop around $600 on something, I want the return trip — not the finger cross.

    1. But NASA might well buy it anyway, because “It’s blackberry! Secure! Enterprise-friendly! We already know it!”

      that’s what RIM is counting on. FUD about Apple and familiarity/trust on the part of IT people about RIM.

      Getting to the moon is someone else’s problem.

  4. No e-mail, calendar, address book or apps? I simply CAN’T wait to get my $500 calculator/paperweight with HDMI output! I can’t wait to carry that around in my amply-sized breast pocket. WAIT… 1/2″ too big for that? SUPER!! Now what am I gonna do with the suit I bought a suit instead of a PlayBook case!

  5. No e-mail, calendar, address book or apps? I simply CAN’T wait to get my $500 calculator/paperweight with HDMI output! I can’t wait to carry that around in my amply-sized breast pocket. WAIT… 1/2″ too big for that? SUPER!! Now what am I gonna do with the suit I bought a suit instead of a PlayBook case! R.I.M. can now officially change their name to R.I.P.

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