I thought I'd write a bit about these tablets since I was lucky enough to get one for free recently from RIM (the makers of BlackBerry devices).
For anyone that doesn't read my blog (which is everyone) you might have missed my post about RIM giving free PlayBook tablets to developers in an effort to get more apps published on App World (their app store). Since they're pretty much down the pecking order when it comes to peoples preference for smart devices, they figured they had to do something. Their tablet, the BlackBerry PlayBook, was released last year, and even though its got better specs, and is all round faster, than the iPad2, they are still not selling as many as they should be. While they can spend loads of money they don't have, and market their tablet like Apple, when people eventually do buy it, they'll be complaining about the lack of apps available. And herein lies the problem!!
Blackberrys App World is painfully low on apps. They reckon if they can get more quality apps in, then they'll get more customers. Its a kind of "If you build it, they will come" sort of mentality. In addition to this, they've just released the updated OS software for the PlayBook, imaginatively entitled "OS 2.0". With this update comes the ability to run Android apps on the tablet. This is a huge deal! Straight away they've just quadrupled the amount of apps available to users. Its not as straightforward as just downloading them though. Since you can't install the Android Market on the PlayBook, the maker of the app in question needs to download a plugin and convert the app (its literally 3 clicks with the plugin) and then publish it to App World under a new (FREE) developer account. Then the user can download it via App World.
So thats exactly what I did about a month ago. After about 3 weeks I got a knock on the door, only to be greeted by the postie carrying a big box of goodness! I could see the Blackberry label on the top so was delighted with meself! The tablet is super fast and shiny and I love it to bits! The browser is literally the second best browser in the world for supporting web standards, behind Chrome. The OS, which is called QNX, is super stable...so stable in fact that it is used in nuclear reactors to monitor the core, so basically it NEVER crashes!! If an app crashes, it will close it and continue along nicely. The screen is 7 inches, smaller than the iPads 10 inches, but is crystal clear. I've loaded a couple of HD video samples on it and they look class. Additionally, the built in speakers are the best speakers I've ever heard on a mobile device. They even have some decent bass on them!! Also, it has a great feature that the iPad doesnt....you can hook up the tablet to your hi def TV via a micro HDMI cable, and play movies and games!! Its great! I have Need For Speed on it and I can sit in front of my TV playing it while using the tablet like a steering wheel!
The tablet itself is of a really good build quality. It feels solid in your hand. The two cameras are 5MP on the back and I think 3.2 MP on the front. The iPad only has VGA on the back and I think even less than that on the front! Its crazy that the iPad2 is 600 euro and this is only 200 euro!!
Anyway, while its an all round better device than the iPad2, it does have some downsides, which go back to what I was saying earlier. Since Blackberrys arent as popular as Android and Apple, not many companies make apps for them. They reckon that making an app for such a small user base will return little income compared to the cost of development, so they either dont bother or, as in the case of Angry Birds, they do make an app but charge $5 for it!
Apparently there has been 6000 submissions for this free tablet offer, so thats a lot of new potential customers! And since every one of those 6000 is an app developer, we can be sure there'll be an influx of new apps in the coming months. I know I have a couple of ideas for new apps anyway, and since their conversion tool is literally 3 clicks, I can even write it in my preferred language, ie Java for Android, and then convert it easily!
Long live the PlayBook!!