A pint-sized tablet that packs a real punch
The tablet computers we review tend to use one of two operating systems: the Apple iPad runs Apple's iOS, and most of the rest use Google's Android.
The Blackberry Playbook, on the other hand, uses its own operating system, Blackberry Tablet OS, which for the most part was very impressive.
On first turning it on, the screen showed some easy-to-follow tutorials. The area that surrounds the touch-sensitive screen is also touch-sensitive: rather than having separate buttons to access the home screen or see what apps are running, those are done by sliding your fingers from the bezel to the main screen.
A swipe upwards from the bottom displays apps currently running, swiping downwards accesses the settings for the current app, and swiping sideways moved between open applications. These gestures worked well and added to the stylish, slick feel, and the overall speed and responsiveness of the tablet was really impressive.
The Playbook's screen is a relatively small 7in which made it portable and at 425g it's light. The screen was bright and clear, with a good resolution, and the tablet's fast processor meant it was no slouch.
Internet browsing was good. No matter how quickly we moved around web pages the Playbook was able to keep up. It supports Flash so advanced websites appear as they're supposed to. The browser has tabs, improving navigation with multiple pages open. Videos from Youtube and the BBC iPlayer looked good and we were impressed by the Playbook's loud, clear speakers.
While the Playbook's operating system was hugely impressive, in some respects better than Android, it isn't well supported – relatively few apps are available in the download centre, Blackberry App World, especially compared with the number available for Apple and Android devices. One particularly glaring oversight was the lack of an email application. You need to connect the Playbook to a Blackberry phone to get email through that, or use webmail.
The price of the Blackberry Playbook matches that of the larger (10in) iPad 2 almost exactly. The cheapest model is £399, rising to £559 for the most expensive. Unlike the iPad, however, there isn't yet a version of the Playbook that can use a mobile phone Sim card to access the internet. You're limited to accessing it through a wireless network. Blackberry says a 3G model with mobile internet access is coming soon.
The Blackberry Playbook is in some ways a great tablet computer. It is fast, responsive and has a great screen. The web browser is good and its size means it good for popping in a bag to use while out and about.
However, the absence of apps is a big problem and this explains the huge price cut (from £399 at launch to around £130 a year later). At that cost, some people may find it appealing but don't expect the app store to fill up - developers have cast the Playbook aside.
Read more reviews
A fast tablet with a slick operating system, but for the price it doesn't do enough
Excellent screen; slick operating system; fast in use
Expensive; no email; not many apps available
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