Exclusive First Look: RIM’s Playbook Prototype*

After criticizing the very existence of the RIM’s iPad competitor, the Playbook, I came home to a little surprise – a RIM Playbook Prototype to, um, play with. I must say this is a cute little device very tiny and I could see how the size might be appealing.

But I am getting a little ahead of myself – we really should go through this step by step so you know that I really do have a prototype unit (I found it at my desk, not a bar FYI).

The Size

This thing is tiny in comparison to the iPad, just take a look at the picture below.

Playbook

Playbook

Playbook

Playbook

I am not sure that I am a fan of the size, it just isn’t quite big enough to feel more useful that the iPhone yet far too small to feel like a good laptop substitution.

The Screen

The screen is amazing on this device, there is absolutely no glare, it has a very paper like quality to it. It doesn’t matter what kind of light you have it in, no reflections or glare. That though is a major problem because this device needs some light – well a lot of light. In the model that I am testing the backlight either is broken or eludes this testers ability to turn it on.

The resolution of the screen is also very poor, the pixel count looks high (print[er] quality even) but the graphics look like an iPhone app running at 2x mode on the iPad – just not good enough.

The Build Quality

Overall the build is rather interesting – the device almost feels like it has some kind of cloth tape wrapping on it. It feels very rigid, about as rigid as 3 pieces of cardboard perhaps but I am just guessing here. There is still a lot of work to be done though as these three things really bug me right now:

  • The screen is not perfectly centered.
  • The device is not perfectly squared on the corners.
  • The cloth tape like material shows it seems all over the place.

This though I have to remember is a prototype and one would assume that all these things will be fixed by the time the Playbook hits production.

Battery Life

I have had the screen on non-stop (how do you turn it off?) and it has been connected to Wi-Fi the entire time the battery life has not budget from 75% in the past 58 hours of testing. Very impressive.

The Weight

This thing weighs nothing, again it weighs about the same amount as three pieces of cardboard with tape on it. Honestly if they can keep it this weight when it hits production then I am sold.

The OS

This OS looks really swell, which is about all that I can say about it. I cannot for the life of me get the device to respond or do anything for that matter, it is stuck with the app switching screen being shown. In talking with someone who did not deny to me that they are a RIM executive (perhaps the CEO) said that it only works if you have a Blackberry and not a crappy iPhone. So it appears that RIM has done an impressive job of locking up the OS unless it detects that the owner also has a Blackberry – kudos to RIM on the feat.

Overall

Without being able to test the OS it is hard to say just how good this device is. What I can say is the the battery life, anti-reflective coatings on the screen and the weight of this device are highly impressive. If they keep these features in the production model it will kill the iPad.

*Where by Prototype I mean that I have a replica of what I think that RIM had on stage at the press event, maybe.

Playbook

Originally posted for members on: September 30, 2010
Follow along on RSS, App.net, or Twitter.
~I would appreciate it if you considered becoming a member.~