BlackBerry PlayBook Reviews: Good Hardware, Needs More Software

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Early reviews of the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet are trickling in, with a generally positive reception of the hardware and dings against the lack of not only commonly built-in apps—there’s no native e-mail app, for instance—but a lack of apps in general.

The software seems to be a bit buggy in some areas as well, but RIM’s been pushing out updates relatively frequently. As such, several of the reviewers have taken a wait-and-see approach, in the hopes that many of the PlayBook’s kinks will get worked out by its April 19th availability date.

Here are some quick snippets of the PlayBook’s early reviews:

Engadget

“We have hardware that looks and feels great but isn’t being fully served by the software. And, ultimately, we have a tablet that’s trying really hard to please the enterprise set but, in doing so, seems to be alienating casual users who might just want a really great seven-inch tablet…

Right now, the BlackBerry PlayBook is a tablet that will come close to satisfying those users who gravitate toward the first word in its name: BlackBerry. Those who were more excited about the ‘play’ part would be well advised to look elsewhere, at least until Android compatibility joins the party. Then, well, anything could happen.”

CNET – 3.5 out of 5

“It’s a welcome addition to a tablet landscape that has been devoid of professionally-oriented products (outside of Windows 7 slates). And it’s an important competitive gesture to both Apple and Google that a third way is possible and that there are still interesting and innovative things to be done in this space.

Is the PlayBook going to take a big bite out of the tablet market? Probably not, but then, few have. We feel confident saying that it is a much more enticing product than any of the 7-inch tablets we’ve seen so far (Samsung Tab, Dell Streak 7, Archos 70). It’s a sure hit for the BlackBerry loyal, and a tempting option for those who prefer an uncompromising Web experience to the allure of apps and games.”

PCMag.com – 2.5 out of 5

“The good news is that the user interface for the new BlackBerry Tablet OS is beautiful, graceful, and operates with a simplicity that rivals that of the Apple iPad 2 and bests the Motorola Xoom’s oft-cluttered screens. The bad news is that, at launch, there’s a lot missing. First, there’s no native e-mail support. (Didn’t the RIM usher in the era of mobile e-mail with the BlackBerry?) The PlayBook also suffers from a dearth of compelling—or smooth-functioning—apps. Then there’s the absence of should-be-standard features—why include a front-facing camera, but no video-chat app? Updates, RIM promises, will bring much of what’s missing to the PlayBook in the near future. Throw in some better app selection, too, and the PlayBook may be worth revisiting down the road, but right now, it’s unfinished.”

New York Times

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.

If all of this gets fixed, the apps arrive, and the PlayBook can survive this year’s onslaught of rival tablets, then it may one day wind up in the pantheon of greats. For now, there are too many features that live only in R.I.M.’s playbook — and not enough in its PlayBook.”

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