In the winter of 2012 in the run up to christmas a Tablet computer was being sold in the UK every minute or so, and proved to be one of the most popular presents. This was in part due to tablet technology maturing and the ensuing race to the bottom in terms of pricing. Google set the trend with their Nexus 7 tablets undercutting a lot of 1st party manufacturers with a better specced and cheaper tablet. Due to this, slightly older or obscure tablets became cheap as chips and ripe for the picking.
Like every product there are cheap and cheerful variants which were always destined to be cheap, and you can tell by how they cut corners; less memory, slower processor, low res screen etc. But after looking around I purchased a Blackberry Playbook 64GB tablet for only £119 (+ cash back), this is a tablet that a month or two earlier sold for double the price and a year earlier was in the £500 plus territory trying to compete against Apple, meaning this was actually a premium product of old.
So why was the Playbook was so cheap? It’s all down to the fact it uses QNX as it’s operating system, different to the two mainstays in the tablet market; Android and iOS. Due to this the app store is baron and all but forgotten, most developers have abandoned ship or are not supporting this current version of the OS in favour for Blackberry 10, the upcoming QNX based OS arriving at the end of January 2013. With little or no 3rd party apps the price plummeted, however it had a trick up it’s sleeve. …It could run Android Apps after all.
As part of the developer mode, there is an Android VM (akin to Bluestreaks) which can run Andoird 2.3 apps (alas there isn’t a newer version), because of this you can side load converted Android APK’s, a big win for the little tablet.
The next great point is that you get 64GB of memory, most tablets of the price range only have 8GB, or a few have 16GB. Regrettably the Playbook doesn’t have a SD or Micro SD slot for expansion but its not required, and has a micro USB port that supports USB OTG so you can plug in a host of accessories to expand it. There is also a rapid charging dock that I bought which affords it a nice viewing angle when watching TV/Films.
Most people know in the beginning I never really liked the UI aspect of Android, to me it always felt like an OS for a computer scientist and not a consumer. The QNX OS on the Blackberry is easy and intuitive, and even my mother (who has never txt’d, sent an email etc.) understood how to use it.
There are of course some downsides to the Tablet, it is about a year old so has the last gen CPU/GPU, the screen res isn’t mind blowing like the Google Nexus, and it weighs a little more than most, but it has a premium feel to it and feels solid in the hand.
Overall it’s a lovely little tablet for the price and great for my family who want it for surfing eBay, listening to music and watching films, for me, if I were to spend a little more I would get the Nexus.