Saturday, June 02, 2012

Blackberry Playbook


I recently purchase a Blackberry Playbook. This article provides my critique of the playbook in contrast with my use of the iPad 2.

I have owned an iPad 2 for approximately one year and it has changed the way I live. My web browsing at home is exclusively using the ipad and i have two sets of airplay speakers. Needless to say, iTunes really shines when you use it in conjunction with airplay. I can wake up and change my music playlist without leaving my bed. Coupled with a morning read of my news sites, and a game or two on its large display, I am comfortable that the iPad has set a standard that will not easily be beaten in the home.

This domination at the home is not so great as compared in the office. My expectations in the office are clear.  Any device must compete with pen and paper, a physical notebook for meetings, a laptop for presentations, and blackberry email for consolidated mobile email.  Security and corporate manageability is furthermore critical. Battery life of such a device must be at least 10 hours and should hold up to a full day of note taking in a training course.

I am already completely convinced in DRM and device security proposition proposed by the iPad. Android and its security landscape does not look anywhere near as convincing as iOs and suspect that, in the next two years, we will see Android releases whose focus is purely focused on corporate security.

Blackberry Playbook offers the promise of such a device but how does it truly stand up to corporate use?


Advantages:

1. I never have to connect to WIFInetwork at another corporate. My Internet browsing and email always works successfully due to tethering on my BB.  Connecting to WIFI networks is trivial but not necessary.

2. I am paying for a single contract with my mobile operator and usage is free due to BIS.  I do not want another 3G device and another monthly bill to receive calls and messages.  It uses a little more more battery life.  The more energy efficient bluetooth 3 or 4 will make this work even more effectively as it promises longer battery life.  My BB9900 did drain faster than usual during a full day of training, and by extension, browsing using my playbook.  This is a minor problem.

3. Its size is perfect.  My iPad 2 is too large and I worry about dropping it.  I do not like protector coverings.  Without my coat, it is still possible to put my playbook into my pant pocket so that my hands are free.  It does not look good but sometimes you need both hands and don’t have a table nearby.

4. It feels much more rugged in comparison to my iPad 2.

5. Email is great.  See suggestion 2.

4. The multitasking is much more effective during meetings. This is a very subtle advantage.

5.  This may sound absurd but i can comfortably throw my playbook onto my bed or couch without me perceiving it breaking.  An iPad feels too large and fragile to throw.

6. The menu system feels much more organised than the iPad.


Disadvantages:

1. Poor application ecosystem.  At first, I expected this to be much more of an issue but it turns out to be less important because your biggest competition is actually pen and paper.  See suggestion 1.  It is actually quite an absurd disadvantage as the playbook has arguably the broadest application framework for corporates.  It supports Adobe Air, Flash, Html 5, Native C++ applications, simplified Android apps, and potentially (it may get killed) a java runtime.  What impresses me is the Air application framework, as it introduces a potentially rich and mature application framework and development environment giving corporations the options to leverage their skills to develop.

2. The password lock only has a 10 minute option.... I'd like a quicker lock timer.

3.  Exchange corporate address book is needed for both BB and for playbook.  Windows Phone is going to have this function and its gonna be useful. I don't use BES so maybe this has already been solves.

4.  The size of the iPad keyboard is much more effective for typing long emails.. You tend to use your thumbs more for typing than expected.  I have, however, written this article on the playbook and don't think that it is too much of a problem.  It is much easier to touch type on the iPad.

5.  I had to turn off the predictive text as it was getting annoying. This is a minor cosmetic issue.

6.  Text selection is not as easy on your BB.  Minor cosmetic issue and i probably need to read the help.

7.  When my playbook is charging next to my bed, and I turn it upside down so that the light doesn't disturb me, I don't believe it goes into locked mode after 10 minutes.

Suggestions:
 
1. The biggest competitor is pen and paper.  The notes app that comes with BB is ridiculously simple and almost useless in comparison to the Paper and Evernote applications.  This is a shocking omission.

2. Mail and tethered mail should optionally be merged or linked.  I have a gmail account linked to my playbook and to my phone. If both are configured independently, then I do not want to see an extra mailbox in BB bridge.

3. A Micro-SD card reader would be nice to allow photo management and upload to websites while travelling. I do not like to log into my email accounts while travelling because of keyloggers/trojans.  This would make me much more comfortable.

General Observations:

1. Battery life is great.  I need to record meetings, take photos of whiteboards, take notes, file notes, and project powerpoint files.

2.  The automatic upgrade to the latest BBX OS version was impressive and simple.

Still to use:

1.  I have not yet used the print to playbook functions.  My problem with this feature is that you sometimes do not have the time to print every document.  You almost need a file-sharing function like dropbox giving you access to project/view (but not copy or distribute (based on corporate settings)) files.

2. I need to test out projecting using a HDMI converter.  If this can project PowerPoint, I would be quire happy.


All in all... The pro/con/suggestions are prioritised in terms of importance and fundamental impact on my day to day life.  The advantages clearly outweigh the disadvantages and the suggestions would complete the device.  The suggestions, and the lack of their capability, are actually more fundamental disadvantages and should be taken more seriously than the disadvantages raised.

I was seriously sceptical when I purchased the Playbook however I have been pleasantly surprised and look forward to future BBX releases!

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