We were pretty eager to see the PlayBook, so we swung by RIM’s booth to get our hands on the new tablet. Initial impressions of the 7” tablet show a lot of promise. RIM has done a great job with the BlackBerry Tablet OS, though most of the credit likely has to go to RIM acquisition QNX, whose real-time operating system provides the basis for the Tablet OS. The UI is very responsive and provides a clean break from the smartphone version of the BlackBerry OS.

RIM is being rather coy about the hardware, beyond saying that it has a 1GHz multi-core processor. However, we have heard very strong hints from multiple parties saying that there’s a TI OMAP 4 SoC underhood, so you can basically pencil in the OMAP 4430’s dual-core 1GHz Cortex A9 and PowerVR SGX 540. The 7” display has a 1024x600 resolution and appeared to have pretty decent viewing angles. There are two cameras here, a 3MP unit on the front and a 5MP unit on the back, as well as a micro-HDMI port. Dimensionally, the PlayBook is slightly larger and slightly thinner than the Galaxy Tab, as well as marginally heavier, but unless you have the two side by side like I did, you wouldn’t be able to notice. The soft touch backing gives the device a very nice feel in hand.

The PlayBook’s interface is Apple-like in its grace and simplicity. Swiping your fingers left or right across the screen flips through multiple pages of the home screen. Sliding your fingers upwards gives you access to the multitasking menu with a live view of your running applications (similar to Win+Tab in Windows or Expose in OS X). In the web browser, the same action brings up a live view of the current tab set. Speaking of the browser, it has support for both HTML5 and Adobe Flash capability.

Multitasking performance is particularly impressive on the PlayBook. We were able to playback HD video, run a Quake 3 timedemo, and load a web page at the same time without any noticeable slowdown on the UI, and I saw another PlayBook unit running two 1080p videos simultaneously in the background with smooth browser performance and no dropped frames in either video.

We’re looking forward to getting our hands on a production model of the PlayBook in the coming months, and RIM says that the WiFi-only model of the PlayBook should be out before April. A 3G/WiMAX-equipped PlayBook should be available later on this year. It looks like RIM is pretty serious about the tablet space, so it looks like Apple and Google will definitely have some solid competition in 2011.

Hands-On: Notion Ink Adam Hands-On: Dell Streak 7


View All Comments

  • KLC - Thursday, January 27, 2011 - link

    You say the UI of the Notion Ink is colourful but later you say the transreflective display is monochromatic. You call it the Adam but the photo gallery calls it the Eden. Reply
  • zebrax2 - Thursday, January 27, 2011 - link

    Adam is the tablets name while Eden is the name of the UI. Reply
  • vol7ron - Thursday, January 27, 2011 - link

    Why are all the tablets so small? Why can't they introduce something slightly bigger than the iPad. I'd like an 8x11.5 screen. Reply
  • softdrinkviking - Tuesday, March 29, 2011 - link

    i think the issue is that larger tablets are a bit too cumbersome when you actually start using them.
    the bigger, heavier size ones are uncomfortable to hold for long periods of time, and they don't really prop-up well by themselves like a laptop.

    they probably did test groups and people whined about the bigger ones. maybe they figured over 10" might as well be a laptop.
  • metafor - Thursday, January 27, 2011 - link

    I believe the Notion Ink is a dual-mode display. When in reflective mode (e-reader), it's monochromatic. When it's back-lit, it functions as an LCD. Reply
  • tipoo - Thursday, January 27, 2011 - link

    Its a hybrid display, its a colour LCD like the iPad and other tablets, but it can also become a e-ink display like the Kindle. Reply
  • Shadowmaster625 - Thursday, January 27, 2011 - link

    Just because a few million dumb yuppies can afford to throw away $500+ on a tablet does not mean there is a market for a bunch of cheap knockoffs that just happen to not be cheap at all. These things are way way WAY too expensive for what they are. They offer nothing above and beyond what you can get with an ipod touch. If they cannot bring it to market for $149 or lower it is a waste of time. If they think they're gonna get away with charging $500 I hope they all go out of business. Reply
  • HibyPrime1 - Thursday, January 27, 2011 - link

    It doesn't matter if they're too expensive for what they are, thats pretty much how all new things in the tech world start out. Remember before the iPad was released everyone was expecting it to be $800-1200?

    Besides, tablets are a legitimate alternative to a laptop for those that aren't using it as a productivity tool. These tablets have productivity apps, but really thats kind of a misnomer with these things.

    I can't for the life of me understand why you say they don't offer anything above and beyond an iPod touch? It literally takes a half second glance to see that they are very different form factors. The screen size is the main selling point of a tablet vs ipod touch/smart phone.

    With all that said, I don't think this form factor will last all that long. I think Motorola has the right idea with the Atrix, in my opinion that is the future of mobile computing.
  • Shadowmaster625 - Thursday, January 27, 2011 - link

    They are bigger than an ipod but the screen resolution is the same, or less. So all you're getting for twice the price is the ability to hold it 1 foot further away. That's retarded. Anyone who spends $200 to hold something 1 foot further away needs to have their job outsourced to a monkey. Reply
  • maxhdrm - Wednesday, February 02, 2011 - link

    Are you kidding me? It sounds like YOUR job has already been outsourced to a monkey by the lack of research you have done. I have a Velocity Micro Cruz color eReader with tablet functionality that I bought @ best buy for $99. Sure, it is only 800X600 but not that far from the Ipod touch. The Samsung Galaxy...600X1024 WSVGA, Props goes to Ipad for the one of the highest but C'mon there are plenty that will be the Ipod touch and yah it is nice to read an eBook that isn't in a 2pt font or having to scroll all over the touch.

    Moreover, while I am at it why in hell would I want something bigger than 7"? A 10" tablet is the same size as a netbook why not just sticks with a netbook for a cheaper price and way more functionality. IMO 7" is a good form factor and just because the price isn't insane doesn't mean it's crap. It’s called research. More places like fry's are putting out demos so consumers can interact with said tablets. Apple aside...EVERYONE is running android so it comes down to the "perks" that a tablets puts in, which ones you like and the openness of the tablet.

    This leads me to my biggest concern. As so many forums have posted about Samsung (mainly Verizon phones) phones running android, just how easy is it going to be to update these devices to the newest OS or is the industry "sucker punching" consumers by only allowing us to update via a newer device? Google needs to pass these updates along and ALL tablet device makers need to be allowed accessibility for OS updating.
    This should be every consumers concern otherwise they will sneek this under the radar

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now