A year ago, RIM released the BlackBerry PlayBook to mixed fanfare. A portion of the BlackBerry faithful was quite excited for the device, despite its admitted shortcomings. While many of those shortcomings could be remedied by pairing it with a BlackBerry smartphone, other aspects were still rough around the edges. Which is to say, nonexistent.
But RIM kept plugging away at it, and today the PlayBook is a completely functional tablet. And it’s getting better every day, thanks to the influx of Android apps. I’d even go so far as to say that the PlayBook is one of the top tablets currently available. That might seem like a stretch.
After all, there are dozens of Android tablets, many of which have come with considerable hype. But most of them have fallen short of expectations. The Samsung Galaxy Tab, the Motorola Xoom, and others are decent tablets. They just lack the wow factor.
In addition, Android on tablets, even with 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, still has bugs. It might have an enormous app store, and that counts for plenty. It’s one reason that people choose Android over BlackBerry. But Android, particularly with tablets, still has many flaws.
Of course, there’s no comparing the PlayBook to the iPad. Then again, there’s no comparing Android tablets to the iPad, either. The new iPad is certainly the best tablet on the market, bar none. You know what the second best tablet is? The iPad 2. And it’s not particularly close. That leaves an open competition for No. 3, and you can certainly make a case for the PlayBook.
Unfortunately, the PlayBook suffers from a few ailments that prevent people from seeing it for what it is. The tech media loves to use BlackBerry as a punchline, and the PlayBook bears the brunt of that. The delay in adding native PIM apps hurt considerably — both in reality and in perception. The lack of apps also hurt. Thankfully, RIM has addressed and remedied those last two points. It’s why I’d definitely choose the PlayBook over any Android tablet. Though admittedly I’m biased.
It’s strange to see that one year-old tablet is easily the second best tablet on the market, only to its successor. The PlayBook, like the iPad 2, has held up well. It might not win any TechCrunch awards, but it’s a solid piece of gadgetry that has help up well during the course of a year. That’s not easy to accomplish in today’s rapidly developing tech environment.