BlackBerry Bold and PlayBook

Review the BlackBerry Bold and PlayBook features

January 2012: I picked up a PlayBook after Christmas. Only now that I actually own a tablet, I got interested in comparisons between the iPad 2 and the PlayBook. Interesting to see that the PlayBook scores better then I expected. The tablet size is a personal preference, the performance is apparently equal so the real difference is how you use the tablet. The multi tasking feature of the PlayBook (having multiple apps running) is not (yet) on top of my requirements, so I won't get into that in much detail. If you are looking for the coolest device, you can stop reading and go buy what your friends tell you. If you need something for business and personal, keep on reading, that's exactly how I use my "toy". Oh, and I'm also a software developer. Having a tablet to test my applications was another reason to get the PlayBook.

If you came to this page because of the 'Out of memory' error when trying to install a new application, check the Update at the bottom of the page

7 inch vs 10 inch display (diagonal)
I thought that the 400 gram PlayBook is already heavy, but the 610 gram of the iPad 2 is not appealing at all to me. I can actually carry the PlayBook in the pocket of most of my jackets, that wouldn't work for the iPad 2. Another consideration is the aspect ratio (the horizontal length of the screen vs. the vertical). The 7 vs 10 inch refers to the diagonal size. The Playbook uses a 16:9 ratio (6 by 3.5 inch actual size). This is the size of video wide screen format. The iPad uses a 4:3 ratio which is in line with a piece of paper.
A few days ago, I got into a discussion about the screen. PlayBook uses the Gorilla Glass from Corning. As of today, this is apparently to most advanced glass available.

WiFi, 3G, 4G and phones
When you get a tablet, get the one that works with your phone. I have the BlackBerry Bold 9700, a 3G device from Bell Canada. So there is no argument about having no email or no BBM or no Internet connection with my PlayBook. Too many reviews and arguments are about the tablet alone, I don't consider this a practical solution. So, if you don't already have a data plan for your smartphone, invest your money there first. Having a smartphone or a tablet is about being mobile AND always connected. It will not replace a laptop, but the smartphone and tablet are an excellent alternative in 95% of my travels.

The PlayBook is configured to use WiFi in my office and switches seamlessly to my Phone as soon as I leave my office. My email and calendar is on the phone and in synch with the Domino Server in the office. The BlackBerry Bridge Apps makes all that and more available on the PlayBook. It's like having a big screen on your phone.
With this combo, I have one data plan and 100% connectivity. If you can not use your phone as a data access point, you may not have the best solution. Nobody wants to pay a service plan for two devices. And to be honest, would you ever leave home without your phone, carrying the tablet only?

Flash or no Flash
Well, iPad does not run Flash and some websites will not render correctly. The websites that are important to me usually don't use Flash, so not a real selling point to me.
It is interesting to read that the PlayBook browser scores very high in the comparisons, not only for Flash but also for the overall functionality.

Yes there are more Apps on iPad.
I don't play games, I don't browse YouTube to see what everybody else is watching. I don't download videos or music. If I need a distraction, I get my running shoes and I go for a long run, no music, only my BlackBerry Bold to snap a picture and post on facebook.
The PlayBook comes with Need For Speed. I really tried to play. I even upgraded to the latest version, but after 5 minutes, it's time for me to move on. It's just not my thing.
I installed BlackBerry News and I can see that I may use it occasionally. App World, that's the BlackBerry App Store, has plenty of Apps that I never need. I got carried away the first day and downloaded a free App, the Periodic Table. Not even a week later, we visited the Minerals Exhibit at the ROM and the Periodic Table really came in handy. Some of the crystals have some crazy chemical connections and finding the Cd, Pb, Li, Si and C in the table to learn that the crystal is made from Cadmium, Lead, Lithium, Silicon and Carbon. Who would have thought that this comes in handy?
So if having lots of Apps is what you are looking for, iPad or Android is the way to go.
Did you know
The next release of the PlayBook OS will run Android applications giving you access to thousands more Apps.


BlackBerry wrote the book on mobile security. The BlackBerry Enterprise Server gives you full control over the phones and tablets. I never met anyone yet that would buy an iPhone or Android for the security. For me, it is the most important criteria. The fact is, phones are small and get lost very easy. The smartphone stores your personal data, details about friends and family, contacts of customers and partners and much of your companies confidential information. I do not understand why many people have a phone without even a simple password.
The BlackBerry Bold is protected by a policy enforced by the BlackBerry Enterprise Server. If I loose the device, I can wipe all data from the device and lock any further access. Loosing the PlayBook is less of an issue, there is no data stored on the PlayBook. The BlackBerry Bridge Software gives full access to email ,contact, calendar, tasks and memos but never stores the data on the tablet.

Domino Server with BES and Traveler

It all runs on a Windows Server and IBM Lotus Domino. Email, Contacts, Calendar with group scheduling, on your desktop, lapop and mobile device. All this for $3 per user per month. Please read Messaging and Collaboration for Small Business for the full story.

The Lotus Traveler Software is an add-on to run email, calendar and contacts on Android, iPhone and iPad. Traveler uses policies to secure the devices. Only a small subset of the BlackBerry Enterprise Server control is available to Android and iPhone devices. An important one being the remote wipe that clears all personal data on the phone.

Lotus Traveler also works with the PlayBook. This is important for two reasons:
1. You don't have a BlackBerry Phone
2. You need to combine contacts or calendar information.
Refer to PlayBook, Social Feeds and Lotus Traveler for details.

My Top BlackBerry Apps

My review: BlackBerry Bridge for Email, Calendar, Contacts, Tasks and Notepad
My review: BlackBerry Traffic to get me where I need to go on the best route.
Poynt to get the local weather, movies, events, restaurants, gas stations and addresses.
And what is a portable device without a map apps from either Bing or Google. I'm used to Google Maps, but the PlayBook comes pre-installed with Bing Maps. I didn't see a reason yet to install Google Maps on the PlayBook.
There are many more top 10 apps, Just enter playbook top 10 apps in the search and you will find them all.

Where to go from here

  • I am in love with the new BlackBerry Bold, 4G speed, touch screen, still has my beloved keyboard and has the NFC option. Please read the BlackBerry website for all the details on the phones. This is available now.
  • PlayBook OS 2 will run Android apps. The version is in Beta, the final version is expected in February/March 2012. Read An Update on BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0 for details.
  • BlackBerry 10 devices are coming. The first device seems to be a full touch screen model. No official statement from BlackBerry at this point.
  • If you have an Android or iPhone, you can still get your email, calendar and contacts delivered almost instantly to your device. Lotus Traveler keeps you connected and provides remote administration to keep the devices save.

    Update February 24, 2012: The BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2 is available. I couldn't wait and installed it on the 2nd day of availability using the BlackBerry Desktop connection. It's as simple as plug in the PlayBook and then click Upgrade. Took a few minutes to download and install the software, but that was about the level of 'complexity'. All my applications are still there, BlackBerry Bridge Connection, WiFi setup, photos and documents. It was really unplug the cable and keep on using the PlayBook.
    I'm using the BlackBerry Bridge (email and all stays on my BlackBerry Bold), so the prompts for the Account setup was a bit annoying. Eventually I may look into this in more detail.
    I started to go through the PlayBook demos about the new OS and found the remote control for the PlayBook. That is when you use the BlackBerry Bold to navigate on the PlayBook, designed for presentations but equally well suited when the PlayBook is plugged into the TV and you need to show some pictures to friends and family, all from the comfort of the sofa. The remote control requires a BlackBerry Bridge upgrade on the BlackBerry Bold.

    Update March 6, 2012: Just back from the BlackBerry Innovation Forum, I like what I hear from BlackBerry. BlackBerry Balance and BlackBerry Mobile Fusion are just two of the highlights. I will get into the two offerings in more detail when I get a chance to work with them. Two problems were brought up that are of some concern. The new BlackBerry Bold 9900 battery life is one of them. This issue is addressed and partially fixed in version BB 7.1. The feedback from attendees was mixed, from 'no problem' to 'dies after lunch'. The software fix will reduce or stop some power intensive functions such as dimming the screen when 20% battery life left, closing applications that run in the background etc.
    The second concern was the 'Not enough memory to install application' after upgrading the Bold from BB5 to BB6. I had this problem as well and fixed it by manually deleting temp files and folders. You need to start the BlackBerry Desktop and connect to the >Device >home >user folder. Review the folder and files and delete the log files (wherever they are), data from deleted/removed applications or anything that is not of importance. I deleted several zero-byte log files which take up a lot of space. Even so it's zero-byte, there seems to be a minimum space allocation. I recovered about 19MB of space that solved my problem for the time being. I'm already down to 8MB again, so I will need to do a cleanup again very soon, or get the BlackBerry Bold 9900.

    Update March 2012: Got it, the BlackBerry Bold 9900. The OS version 7 is nice and has some improvements. The touch screen takes time to get used to. The BlackBerry Bridge with the remote control feature is nice. The increased width of the phone makes the keyboard easier to use. I can actually use my thumb to type, not just the tip or the nail.

    Update February 2013. The BlackBerry Bold is now replaced with the Z10. The BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) is shut down and both the PlayBook and the BlackBerry Z10 synchronize with Lotus Traveler. I have the BlackBerry Enterprise 10 Services setup to take advantage of the BlackBerry Balance feature.
    Read about my first impression of the Z10 here

    First published on January 23, 2012
    Last revised on February 19, 2013

  • Timestamp: 10/22/2017 02:07:33 AM EDT [on srv7cps]
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