First impressions mean a lot when you are talking about technology. No, it does not sell a device or keep you using it, but it does make the difference when you’re considering a purchase in the first place. Given that many of the initial reviews are less than stellar, I wasn’t sure what my first impression of the BlackBerry PlayBook would be. That noted, I just had the chance to have my hands on one for a few minutes, and my first impressions are actually quite good.
I have always liked the size of the Samsung Galaxy Tab, and this is close to it. My awesome iPad, (shown above with the PlayBook) can be a bit too big at times, and the Tab — and now the PlayBook — are a great size for taking everywhere. To me, though, the Tab always felt a bit like a toy. I really don’t think Samsung did themselves any favors when they opted to use plastic in it’s construction. I feel the same way about the current Galaxy phone series. Just put the T-Mobile MyTouch up against it, and you can immediately see and feel the difference between the two. One feels cheap the other solid. Guess which is which? This is not the case with the PlayBook. It is small, solid and feels great. In other words it has the size that is so attractive with regard to the Tab but not the cheap feel. Then again, the PlayBook does not have the apps that the Tab has… Yet!
The screen on the PlayBook is quite nice and the smart bezel, which is used in place of a home button, is pretty nifty.
All of that noted, to a large degree we are into an era where the hardware is less significant than the software it runs. Sure hardware matters, but the apps are the real differentiator; that is where RIM has a problem. They tell us that apps will be flowing out, but right now that is a promise and nothing more. They tell us that all developers have to do is take their Android app and change one line of code, but that too is little more than a promise right now. In fact, the fellow demoing the PlayBook for me told me that the app catalog of “the same apps as Android” would be available at launch next week, but soon after he checked (because I pressed him on it) and came back and said, “Soon, but not at launch”.
Sadly “soon” may be too late.
We will have a full review of the PlayBook in the near future.