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Review: BlackBerry PlayBook, priced at Rs 27,990

Much anticipated and much spoken about, the 7-inch tablet from BlackBerry feels solid, well constructed and good to hold. But where the PlayBook impresses most is with its multi-tasking prowess.

Ashish Bhatia | June 23, 2011 | Updated 17:36 IST

BlackBerry maker Research in Motion's (RIM) PlayBook - priced at Rs 27,990 (16 GB), Rs 32,990 (32 GB) and Rs 37,990 (64 GB) - will hit the Indian markets on Wednesday (June 22).

The long-awaited response to Apple's iPad, PlayBook went on sale in the United States and Canada on April 19, in a launch the company desperately hoped could win the hearts and minds of consumers.

Much anticipated and much spoken about, the 7-inch tablet from BlackBerry feels solid, well constructed and good to hold. Mini-malistic, and notebookish in appearance, it has no button in the front.

The interface is reminiscent of the erstwhile Palm/web OS devices while the menu resembles those of the BlackBerry genre. The approach to the UI is refreshing, intuitive and idiot proof. The experience is smooth and cohesive.

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The screen bezel has been thoughtfully deployed for gesture-based basic functionality.

7-inch LCD screen; Arm Cortex dual-core; A9 1GHz processor; 1GB memory, expandable to 64GB; BlackBerry Tablet OS; Wi-Fi, WiMAX, 4G;
Bluetooth; 3 MP front camera; aGPS;
5300 mAH battery
For example, swiping up from the bottom reduces the onscreen app to a thumbnail and allows you to shuffle between other open programs, or launch something new. Swiping left/right on the bezel allows you to swap between apps that are running.

The in-browser Flash video playbackis beyond reproach. On a fast Wi-Fi or 3G connection (via a BB hand-set) it's both stutter free and faithful in rendition.

Where the PlayBook impresses most is with its multi-tasking prowess. You can actually have a graphics intensive game running alongside a video chat session, plus a Adobe Flash heavy website loading, or movie playing - all at the same time.

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No, you may not need to do all these at the same time, but it gives you a good idea of not just the horsepower of the 1GHz Cortex A9 dual core processor but also the deftness of the QNX operating system running on the device.

The music store, though limited, is well designed and offers DRM-free music purchases.

As of now, the tablet has no mail, calendar or messaging client built in. You need to hook up your BlackBerry phone over a program called Bridge via Bluetooth to access these functions. This automatically limits the Playbook's appeal largely to current and future BlackBerry users.

Since the BlackBerry primary stronghold is enterprises, the idea behind this is to secure corporatemail and other information.

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Naysayers the world over have frowned and fumed at the umbilical dependence the PlayBook has with BlackBerry handsets when itcomes to connectivity. Yes, you can use it on Wi-FI, independently of a BB too, but when it comes to online connectivity on the trot without a Berry you're on an island.

In fact, even more than BlackBerrywalas, this slab has been built keeping the security requirements of an enterprise's IT department where a misplaced tablet can simply be wiped clean without any heartburn. Thus, apart from its one-hand-and-pocket-friendly size, the PlayBook's prime asset is its promise of security to the corporateand enterprise users.

For the rest of us, the hardware is all there, functioning beautifully and cohesively. The interface is tight and tidy.

The overall app experience, of course, is yet to be mature enough to be a lure. And we're not talking breadth, depth, range and numbers here. The PlayBook already has over 3,000 native apps with more being added each passing week.

And yes, the upcoming Android emulator on it will boost the figure to the delight of many. It is more to do with the maturity of the apps as well. And that will only come over time.

Courtesy: Gadgets and Gizmos

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