John Galea's Blog

My blog on Gadgets and the like

Playbook OS 2.0

Blackberry finally released their long awaited Version 2.0 of the OS for the playbook. This is game changing for RIM and is make or break for the Playbook IMHO. RIM have struggled (or in my opinion bungled) with the Playbook. It was released with very unfinished software. So now RIM have a chance to do it right. They have a niche product with the playbook. A tablet aimed squarely at the corporate market. Problem is do many corporations actually care about this device? And if they can’t attract the consumer can this device possibly be a success? Some organizations (including the one I work for) have gone so far as to intentionally block the Playbook.

So with all this in mind I talked a colleague at work into allowing me to play with his playbook so I can see what’s changed. I sold my playbook. On the positive side, I could buy another one for the same price I sold mine for!

My main phone that I have right now is a Motorola Droid 3 also called an XT860

At first glance the OS looks as it did. Again the desktop is a glorified task manager. Such a waste. You can’t put active icons/widgets/calendars nothing on the desktop. I really hate this. Everything on the OS is instantaneous. It’s smooth, elegant with no pauses to be had. I must say this is more responsive than any Android device I’ve played with to date.

The Playbook connected to my XT860 over bluetooth but I couldn’t get tethering over bluetooth to work. In fact I couldn’t even send a file between them. So for me, interoperability with Android over Bluetooth was a bust. So I unpaired the two …

Playbook does not support WIFI direct either. Not a shock. Almost nothing does. It will be nice when this gets implemented. If your not familiar WIFI direct allows two devices to connect without an access point for the purpose of high speed file sharing. WIFI tethering with Android worked fine.

The new onscreen keyboard is quite nice. It pops up the letters as you type. Kinda reminds me of the way Apple does it. It also finally includes predictive text! Yay …

The biggest change is the addition of Android support. Now developers can submit Android apps to appear in App world. The end user can download/buy the app just like it was a native app. The app runs just like a native app and the end user has almost no clue that it is an Android app. This is game changing for RIM and opens up a whole new set of apps to the Playbook. And apps are where RIM were really lacking. Developers are just not embracing the Playbook. Now end users just have to wait for Android developers to submit there apps to RIM! In the past, given the lack of apps, Playbook developers could charge (and charge more) for apps more commonly free on other platforms. This will change all that! Compared to when I last played with the playbook there are a lot more apps in the App world! And a lot more free! RIM will control what they allow onto the device and they will intentionally block certain categories of apps. But heh, it’s not a perfect world. For now a lot of the apps I use on Android are not yet in Appworld.

The next big add on the device is local email/calendar/contacts. At last! Relying on a Berry for these really limited the device in the consumer space. The account setup allows you to add facebook, twitter, linked in as gmail, hotmail, and standard IMAP/POP3. I added my gmail account and it was able to sync calendar/contacts and email. Unfortunately it is not the gmail app so no support for the Priority inbox I love. Not a surprise really.

With the Blackberry device manager loaded the internal space shows up to the computer like a drive making it easy to copy onto. Using checker I got about 5M/s which is just above a class 4 flash card. Not exactly zippy.

I copied an MKV with AC3 onto the device but it wouldn’t play it. The interesting thing is the video ap knew it was a video file, but then puked when I tried to play it. Other MKVs played fine. Movie playback as always is good.

The update is suppose to include the ability to use the blackberry keyboard to type on the playbook. I wasn’t able to play with that or the bridge. I don’t have a Berry.

Bluetooth keyboard and mouse work ok but you can’t be far from the device because there is no way to get back to the homescreen. A lot of apps do not include a close button and the only way to close them is with a swipe on the screen. And this does not work with the mouse unfortunately.

HDMI output is definitely one of the strong points of this device. It does it very well and very smoothly. Of course one of the purposes of this would be to use it with a keyboard and mouse like a desktop. Of course given the above comment that ain’t happening so you are limited to using this for movie playback. Which as mentioned earlier is quite good!

So in the end, I think the new version of the OS is a HUGE step forward. In 6 months or so when lots of Android apps have made there way into Appworld the Playbook maybe a very viable device. For now, given that I have an Android tablet, there is not a chance I would replace my Android device with a Playbook, even with the cheap price.


February 29, 2012 - Posted by | Android, Blackberry 10, Electronic gadget reviews

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