Will Blackberry’s PlayBook Tablet Be What Video Fans Wanted The iPad To Be?

Will Blackberry’s PlayBook Tablet Be What Video Fans Wanted The iPad To Be?

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Last January, shortly after Apple announced the iPad, I wrote an editorial about the device and its appeal—or lack thereof—to video creators and marketers.  As you might guess, I wasn’t enthusiastic about it (though everyone always seems to forget that my thoughts were specifically geared to the world of video).  It was hard to see myself or any of my peers really making use of the iPad for their video-related efforts—it had no camera, no USB port, and no support for Flash.

But the marketplace has caught up, and a wave of new tablet devices is about to roll out to challenge the iPad.  Will any present a real challenge? Too soon to say, but those that wish to make a dent in Apple’s market share would be wise to include features missing from the iPad.

For instance, Blackberry manufacturer Research In Motion announced this week their own rumored iPad competitor—the PlayBook—and from the specs alone, it looks to be everything the iPad is not, which is good news for those of us firmly entrenched in the world of video.

Speaking of video, here’s a great YouTube spot for the PlayBook, which already has nearly 400,000 views:

The PlayBook appears to be, on the surface, everything I wanted the iPad to be.

The Highlights Of BlackBerry Playbook:

  • It’s got a camera—actually two of them.  A 5-megapixel camera in the back and a 3-megapixel front-facing camera.  Both can record in HD quality.  (It still boggles my mind that, in this age of video’s dominance, Apple released the original iPad with no camera.)
  • It has a 1024 x 600 resolution—sweet.
  • It’s got micro-USB ports—and micro-HDMI ports too.
  • The PlayBook will be capable of outputting 1080p video!

Other Features of Note:

  • The device will be running a new Operating System from QNX Software Systems, which Blackberry-maker Research In Motion acquired earlier this year.
  • It will be powered by a 1GHz dual-core processor and have 1GB of RAM—four times what the iPad has.
  • Multitasking and multitouch are both possible on the Playbook.

A Few Grains of Salt

Not having any idea what this new proprietary OS will be like, I’d say the PlayBook is still a big question mark.  A clunky OS can sour even the most feature-rich device.  Blackberry’s kind of betting the farm on this new OS, but they have their work cut out for them competing with iPhone OS and Android—both already firmly entrenched in the marketplace.

The PlayBook won’t come out until 2011, and a lot can change between now and then, both with the device and with its competitors.  In fact, I expect the next version of the iPad to have many of these same features, which might undercut any advantage the Blackberry tablet might have going for it now.

We need to see it in action.  We need hands-on reviews.  You can announce all the specs you want, but camera quality and processing speed are the kinds of things that need to be seen to make an impact.  For instance, the OS could end up hogging resources for all I know, voiding the PlayBook’s massive advantage over the iPad in the area of RAM.  The camera might take less-than-ideal quality video or still shots.

I want to be careful to point out that I am not endorsing this product.  I’m not saying it’s better than the iPad (though the Apple fans have already concluded that I am and have headed for the comments section). I think the iPad is slick–a coworker just got one and I’ve played around with it a bit and it’s very, very cool.  But I personally can’t do everything with it that I would want in a portable tablet device, so it’s not for me.

But nowt a future product has been announced, with specs that appear, on the surface, to make this device much more palatable and appealing to video creators and marketers than the iPad was.  It has most everything I think a video fan needs, particularly those things that the iPad does not have.  That said, it’s still a long way off, and has a lot to prove before it can truly call itself an iPad competitor.


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