Aug 10

A users review. Blackberry Playbook -v- iPad

When I was considering buying a Playbook in June, it was hard for me to find a review (more recent than April) that was not biased one way or the other. As I had a PB for a month and I also own an Ipad, I thought it could be useful to prepare this non-technical review for non-PB owners. Forum members, please add your views and comments as pros and cons are different for different people.

1. Screen size: A bigger screen is always better except for portability. I commute to work with my PB every day and I use it to read documents in the plane and books in bed so for me, a smaller and lighter device outweighs the benefit of a larger screen. This is really a matter of personal preference.

2. Operating System: The navigation from one application to the next and the processing speed are much better and smoother on the PB. The active frame of the PB is another big plus once you’re used to it. The issue as current users know is that the PB has not reached its stability point yet. It got better lately but let’s hope that it will all be history before the end of the year.

3. Apps and games: Ipad, no question. I’m not a big app user so it’s not a big deal for me. RIM seems to make the life of app developers a bit hard. Until they changed their mind and/or give PB access to android apps (end of summer they said?), there is no way PB can catch up.

4. Web browsing: At first, I just loved Ipad on the internet but after a couple of months, what seemed to be a minor weakness got on my nerve…its inability to play Flash. Plus Ipad gets you to mobile sites as opposed to full sites. I ended up going back to my Macbook every time I needed the Web which defeated my original purpose of buying an Ipad. Since I got my PB, I’m enjoying the Web much more than on Ipad. In addition to its Flash compatibility, I find the PB more responsive or accurate when I click a link, even though the screen is smaller. The fact that the picture quality is better is also a plus. Finally, the PB seems to be faster than Ipad on my home wifi. I vote for PB here.

5. Email: The strength of PB here is the bridge to your Blackberry smartphone, which allows access to your office emails. However, for security reasons, files or attachments cannot be transferred between smartphone and PB, ie you cannot use the bridge to your smartphone to email files on you PB (like pictures for example). So until PB has its own native email (end of summer let’s hope), you have to log in on a web email account (hotmail, gmail, yahoo,…) to send attachments that reside on your PB such as pictures, which makes it more difficult than on an Ipad. This is why many existing PB users are impatiently waiting for this feature.

6. At home: If you use your tablet mostly to browse the Web, I find that PB is better (see above). In my opinion, the fact that the PB is smaller and lighter makes it easier to hold to read papers and books too. However, if the intent is to use your tablet to almost replace your home computer, I’d say Ipad is better as things stand right now, especially if you have other Apple products (Ipod, Macbook, Iphone …). Although you can sync the PB for music, video and pictures with your PC or Mac like an Ipad, it’s just easier with Ipad to download music and movies, stream music and movies to your entertainment system, play games and use all kinds of apps. Same story with video chats: Ipad 2 works with other Ipad 2s, Mac computers and is Skype friendly…PB only works with PB. The only positive I see for PB here other than Web browsing is better screen resolution and better camera.

7. At work: This the biggest plus of the PB for me personally. It instantly became a work tool at the office without any support or permission needed from IT at the office: it syncs with my Blackberry, has access to Word, Excel and Powerpoint allowing me to read and comment on documents when I’m not in the office. I don’t need to bring my laptop anymore when I travel. I tried to do the same with Ipad before but it was much harder to do (no access to attachments sent through office email, not easy to handle Word and Excel, …).

8. On the go: For traveling, I find the PB better than my Ipad, not only because it is smaller but also because I can connect to the Web in a cab, in the car or on vacation where there is no wifi, through the tethering function (ie it uses my Blackberry smartphone as the gateway to the Web). This is not a real plus if you compare to an Ipad 3G or if you have a combo Ipad Iphone. On the other hand, the battery charge of the Ipad lasts significantly longer than the PB.

So which one is the best? None of them is perfect unfortunately. The best is the one that will perform better on what you need the most. If you don’t own a Blackberry, don’t bother with PB and go Ipad as most of the PB benefits are related to the Blackberry connection. If you ask my own preference? I say Playbook. The rest of my family would say Ipad.


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