A Year With the PlayBook
I admit it. I own a BlackBerry PlayBook. A huge fire sale and a collection of Sears reward cards that were about to expire finally pushed me to grab a 16GB base model. Having missed out on the HP Touchpad, I wasn’t going to be denied a cheap, possibly useless tablet computer.
The sales rep told me it was the first one to sell as he blew dust from the cardboard box (seriously, who buys computer gear at Sears?). I was so intent on getting a PlayBook, that I busted over to pick it up as soon as the sale was announced. If I had waited, I could have saved more if I’d waited, but the Touchpad fiasco left me jumpy. Rational thinking was beyond me (more so than usual).
It’s been a year, and I have to say the PlayBook is a great little device. The user interface is fantastic, I much prefer it to Android and even iOS. The active bezel makes multitasking natural, so much so that using another tablet or my iPhone gets annoying. The build quality is solid, and it’s held up to several play sessions with my toddler. In fact, she gets the most use out of it. Which is good and bad. I’ll explain why.
As good as the PlayBook is, there are two glaring omissions: Skype and Netflix. I originally hoped to use the tablet to Skype with family back home, essential when both sets of grandparents live on the other side of the continent. But unless your other party has a PlayBook of their own, you’re just about out of luck (there are a few workarounds, but the complication and quality are lacking).
The apps that are available are decent, especially the ones for the kids. TVOntario has some great learning games and many are free. The web browser is alright (and I usually disable Flash) but crashes when it runs out of memory. When the whole tablet gets a little sluggish, a reboot (which takes a good three minutes) tends to cure that.
Battery life could be better, especially after the 2.0 update that brought native email support. My five-ish hours of juice quickly went down to about three, even after I disabled push notification. I had to completely delete my email accounts to bring the battery life back up to normal. Not a big deal really, as the PlayBook spends its time in the house and I prefer checking email on my iPhone anyway.
When I first got the PlayBook, my wife thought it was a superfluous purchase, and for a while it was. I wanted to use it to Skype back home while we were on vacation. That didn’t work out and I had to pick up an iPod Touch for my wife’s birthday. The ability to use Skype and follow a toddler around is worth the $200 alone. Despite the chastising, it’s my wife who uses the tablet more than anyone else. She prefers the larger screen for web browsing and has effectively commandeered it.
A year later, and the PlayBook is still around. There’s an LTE model for way more than I’d ever pay, but the originals are even cheaper. $130 for one of these is a steal. If my external hard drive didn’t crap out the other day, I might have gotten a second one for me.