The Apple iPad has become synonymous with mobile internet surfing, entertainment and a user friendly interface, thus making it the most popular tablet available to date. However, competitors such as RIM (BlackBerry) are introducing personal entertainment and business tablets aimed directly at the mass consumer market. The new PlayBook from RIM takes the basic idea of the iPad and expands on its capabilities and restrictions.
Take the iPad, reduce the screen size, add Adobe Flash 10.1 and usable business apps and you got the PlayBook. The PlayBook features a 7″ LCD display with a 1024 x 600 resolution and is only .4″ thick. We excluded the multitasking ability as a pro because Apple stated they have plans on releasing the capability for the iPad during the fall of 2010.
Pros Over the iPad
As an iPad 64GB Wi-Fi edition owner, I have found many flaws that make the device impractical for business usage and web surfing. Steve jobs announced over the summer that Apple is uninterested with adding Adobe Flash to its mobile devices due to battery life and virus protection. However, many websites require Flash to watch video, play games and other content. The lack of Flash support does inhibit using the iPad in place of a laptop, which is a serious disappointment considering the premium price.
The PlayBook features a 3MP forward facing camera and a 5MP HD camera for video chat and taking pictures on the fly. The support of video chatting is a huge benefit over the iPad, which currently has no built in camera.
For BlackBerry smartphone owners, the PlayBook has a feature that allows you to pair both mobile devices. This feature is excellent because it makes data transfer much more convenient.
The addition of a microUSB connector (microUSB are the small data cards used in many smartphone devices) is a great feature because it allows easy data transfer without having to synchronize the device to a computer.
One of the biggest disadvantages of the iPad is that the mobile programs available on the apps store have serious compatibility and usability issues with Microsoft Office documents. For instance, the Apple version of PowerPoint does not currently allow support for MS PowerPoint, which is a serious disadvantage for doing presentations in a Microsoft dominated business world.
When the iPad was first released, I was excited to get the 3G version that allowed internet access via AT&T for $29.99/month without a contract. However, AT&T changed their data plan services, which no longer allow for unlimited data. The lack of unlimited data may be fine for smartphone users who consume a small amount of data, but the iPad is data hungry when it comes to watching video. Even with the most expensive plan, you could only watch 4 hours of video before your data for the month runs out. Although RIM has not released which data providers it would use, they have stated that the device can run on existing BlackBerry smartphone data plans, which run on every major wireless network.
The iPad is a simple to use device that allows for excellent internet surfing (excluding Flash related content), music playback and video.
Pros Over the PlayBook
The 9.7″ LED touch screen provides crystal clarity over the competition with its 1024 x 768-pixel resolution. The larger screen is a big advantage because tablet users want something that is large enough to replace a laptop on the go, compared to a netbook screen size, which is similar to the PlayBook.
Although BlackBerry devices are simple to use when it comes to transferring music, Apple makes it effortless. iTunes as well as all video and picture content is effortless to transfer from your personal computer. With large data capacities of the higher end 64GB models, users have plenty of storage for all of their content.
Unfortunately, RIM has a lot to do before their BlackBerry Apps store compares to the Apple Apps store. With iPad specific apps and compatibility with iPhone apps, there is an app for nearly everything. Although, basics such as MS Documents should have been included as a standard business app with every iPad.
Because the iPad does not have Flash support, it cranks out an excellent battery life of 10 hours when surfing the web with Wi-Fi. As an iPad owner, I have found the claim of 10 hours of battery life is consistent with actual use.