Let’s face it. The BlackBerry PlayBook launched and really didn’t seem to make much of an impact on anyone. The general consensus seemed to be – so it launched, what’s the big deal – type of attitude. A few industry professionals I met seemed a little impressed but rather unsure of the placement of this device, as in, what’s it really good for. Truth be told, I’m not absolutely sure myself, but it’s here, it’s a tablet and it’s got one heck of a user interface.

Now I’m positive there are plenty of tablet fanciers out there who would disagree with me about the QNX UI and most would in all probability be iPad users. I’m not here to convince anyone about which one’s better and although I have to agree, the PlayBook lacks quite a few features that one would expect from a tablet device, I think it has tremendous potential to serve the purpose it’s designed for.

I think RIM got the design right though, it’s a slim sleek device and the weight factor (425g), although a tad heavy-set, sort of grows on you after a while. But the UI is what I found truly remarkable. Like most others these days including Apple’s overhaul of iOS that’s coming up, the PlayBook’s interface employs a multi directional swipe system. What that means is you can access menus, apps and other features by swiping your finger up, down or left or right. As it is, this QNX-based system looks and feels quite a bit more functional as compared to the Android Honeycomb which seems to have been put together in a bit of haste. There’s a certain simplicity that I found when accessing the PlayBook’s various features and the lack of a Home button, didn’t bother me at all.

Android and iOS have come a long way in the OS business and although RIM failed to impress users with their mobile phone touchscreen UI, it seems the PlayBook’s has significantly more to offer. But that’s not really the issue. The fact is the device is, and you can quote me on this, not yet capable of reaching its full potential. The absence of BBM automatically cuts off the youth segment completely. Considering the amount of advertising RIM is sporting with just a singular central theme i.e. BBM, the PlayBook simply falls through on this front. However, including features like Full HD recording and playback with multiple codec support and HDMI out sort of makes the PlayBook come off as a glorified and rather expensive media device with limited memory capability.

The PlayBook is finally here

All Play and no work?

The necessity to have to own a BlackBerry Smartphone to tether it to just to view emails on a larger display, or access the net while on the go is not a concept I hold in high regard. Of course you could just create a Wi-Fi Hot spot with an Android handset and connect but then what good would the PlayBook be without BIS or BES. Sure the browsing experience is way better than even Android’s and the responsiveness to touch and fluidity of the UI is way up there with the best of the tablets, I still don’t quite see the point of this device. I’m sure it will be revealed a little later when updates enhance its functionality but can RIM afford to wait that long with the competition in this segment getting seriously harder to ignore? Perhaps RIM merely decided to expand its portfolio like it did when it deviated from the rather standardized QWERTY device form to go touchscreen.

All that being said though, at least the one good thing to come out of the launch of the PlayBook is the BlackBerry Tablet UI which I’m sincerely hoping will make it to the mobile segment as rumors seem to point in that direction. Maybe the mobile would do better since it’ll have a UI that seems capable of being extremely user friendly, backed by a processor that allows it to function smoothly and of course the fact that it’s a mobile phone means no tethering required and memory expansion will also be part of the deal. It’s something to look forward to, but for now, the PlayBook doesn’t seem too ready for work but just for play.

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