Minor OS upgrades are usually passed off as bug fixes while major ones completely revamp your experience with the device, giving you a chance to get more done with it. BlackBerry's PlayBook got a lot of disapproving nods with its rudimentary platform last year, devoid of simple things like a standalone email app. No wonder then that most people think the OS 2.0 upgrade was long overdue. Now that it's finally here, does it take the PlayBook's woes away?
One of the more popular features that the first edition of the PlayBook missed out on was an integrated mail client. Previously, you couldn't configure an email account without ‘bridge'-ing your BlackBerry handheld to it. At first sight, the new one looks a lot like the ‘Mail' layout on an iPad, with a spilt-window view of your Inbox and your emails. Messages and mails are categorised and displayed in neat threads.
The device automatically hooks up and manages your email, calendar, contacts and social accounts. As a result, if you click on a certain contact, you can trace the entire history of all the communication you've had with him, including the last time you met him (this information is extracted from the scheduled meetings in your BB calendar).
The updated OS also gives you a free hand to create and organise various apps into folders. This works pretty much the same way as on any other mobile platform offering similar functionality. I could drag and drop one app onto another to automatically create a folder and rename it. On the homescreen, I could choose up to six of my favourite apps to have on the dock at the bottom of the screen, for quick access.
The previous PlayBook had received a lot of flak for not even sporting an in-built Calendar. The one on the new platform is one of the more subtly yet intelligently designed ones we've seen. Apart from the ability to sync with your Contacts and share your schedules with them, the new Calendar is designed in such a way that the days on which you have appointments, meeting or remainders scheduled for pop up slightly bigger than the rest of the days. So, without having to be unnecessarily bold or intrusive, the days which need your attention automatically stand out when you are going through your Calendar.
For BlackBerry boys
You were the lucky ones who could make the most of the BlackBerry Bridge on the first PlayBook. This time around, the company has jazzed up the Bridge as well.
You can connect your BlackBerry PlayBook and your smartphone via Bluetooth in order to view the content on your handheld on the tablet. Not only does this make for a more convenient display but gives you the space to play around with apps or edit documents.
The updated BlackBerry Bridge app also provides a new remote control feature that allows a BlackBerry smartphone to be used as a wireless keyboard and mouse for the PlayBook.
What has probably become the most popular, pre-installed productivity app on smartphones now finds a place in the BlackBerry PlayBook. Documents To Go, on the tablet, lets you view and edit Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint files. Augmenting this app, is a new service Print To Go, which is a must-have for most business travellers. It helps you connect to a laptop or PC wirelessly and safely receive digital printouts on the PlayBook, thus doing away with the need for physical printouts.
The WebKit browser on the earlier PlayBook platform was quite peppy and the upgraded feels even slicker to use, rendering Web pages quickly. The unit now supports internet tethering using your handset as a hotspot.
One grouse against most of BlackBerry's ‘smart' devices has been the dearth of choice when it comes to apps. The upgraded BlackBerry PlayBook 2.0 brings some hope by opening its doors to a host of Android apps (through an inbuilt convertor). Although, when you are browsing for new stuff in BlackBerry's App World, it's hard to tell an Android app apart from one designed exclusively for BlackBerry.
Up until now, it wouldn't have made sense to a lot of consumers to opt for the PlayBook as a tablet, if they didn't own a BlackBerry smartphone. With simple things like standalone e-mail clients missing, we didn't blame them either! But with the upgraded BlackBerry OS 2.0, the company manages to fix this issue and more. The hardware aspect of the tablet remains the same – sturdy, reassuringly well-built and a low-learning curve for those who aren't used to the completely gesture-based interface (the PlayBook doesn't even have virtual buttons). If you are looking for a no-frills tablet that gets the job done quick and without glitches, you should be looking the PlayBook way. The really affordable price tag also helps the cause!
Love – Efficient email and social integration client, faster browsing
Hate – Fewer apps compared to other platforms,
Rs 13,990 (16GB)
Rs 19,990 (64GB)
Keywords: BlackBerry PlayBook