Product Listing

BlackBerry PlayBook - Latecomer to the Tablet Party

By Sidney Wong - 4 Jul 2011
Launch SRP: S$668

Performance, Multimedia and Battery Benchmarks

Different playing field 

The BlackBerry PlayBook is no slouch when it comes to the performance aspect. It has a dual-core processor clocked at 1GHz and 1GB of RAM to run almost anything on the PlayBook. Due to the relatively new QNX OS, there is no benchmark available that can be used to to gauge the PlayBook's performance against the competitors.

Based on our time with the PlayBook, the user experience was great. Apps launched and ran smoothly without hiccups. The interface is very responsive, making switching from one app to another effortless. Even when we opened several apps and left them running in the background, the PlayBook showed no signs of slowdown or processing lag. With a screen resolution of 1024 x 600 pixels, for a 7-inch screen, it is a joy reading and watching videos on the PlayBook. Colors are vibrant and warm. The screen is a bit reflective but not as bad as the one found on the Motorola Xoom. The pair of stereo speakers flanking the left and right side of the bezel is satisfactory for viewing movies and listening to music in a room but definitely not loud enough in an open environment with a lot more ambient noise.

Of all of our benchmarks, SunSpider JavaScript can still be used to compare the PlayBook against the HTC Flyer, the Apple iPad 2 and the Motorola Xoom in terms of web browser performance since it's not OS or hardware agnostic.

From the scores above, you can see an almost similar performance among all the tablets. Even though the PlayBook emerged last, the delta isn't that wide and we cut it some slack since it is the first BlackBerry tablet. There is certainly room for improvement in the future. Numbers aside, we encountered no problems when surfing the Internet on the PlayBook. The experience was generally a smooth one and the support for Adobe Flash in the browser further ensured we were not restricted from surfing sites that are flash-heavy in design. The test is conducted with stock firmwares to minimize any variable factors that may affect the results of the benchmarks. 

The PlayBook comes with a 5-megapixel rear camera and a 3-megapixel front camera, which are capable of 1080p HD video recording.This means that video call quality will probably be better than other tablets, which adds some brownie points for the PlayBook in the eyes of the corporate consumers. Let's check out the performance of the 5-megapixel rear camera as we put it through the tests.

The colors are more vibrant and the white balance is more accurate. Generally, the camera does a better job compared to those found in other tablets.

The image quality is not bad. The camera captured some sharpness and detail around the corners.

Last but not least, the BlackBerry PlayBook is put through our usual round of battery life assessment, where we loop a 720p video with screen brightness and volume set to 100%. We turned on Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections with data constantly streaming in through email and Twitter. In this test, we compare the PlayBook with the HTC Flyer, the Apple iPad 2 and the Motorola Xoom.

Specifications/Device BlackBerry PlayBook HTC Flyer Apple iPad 2 Motorola Xoom
  • Dual-core 1GHz
  • Single-core 1.5GHz
  • Dual-core 1GHz
  • Dual-core 1GHz
Display Size
  • 7-inch
  • 7-inch
  • 9.7-inch
  • 10.1-inch
Display Type
  • LCD
  • LED-backlit IPS TFT LCD
Display Resolution
  • 1024 x 600 pixels 
  • 1024 x 600 pixels
  • 1024 x 768 pixels
  • 1280 x 800 pixels
Battery Capacity
  • 5300 mAh
  • 4000 mAh
  • 6930 mAh
  • 3260 mAh
  • 194 x 130 x 10mm
  • 195.4 x 122 x 13.2mm
  • 241.2 x 185.7 x 8.8mm
  • 249.1 x 167.8 x 12.9mm
  • 425g
  • 420g
  • 613g
  • 708g

From the graphs above, you can see that a good battery life is another strong suits of the BlackBerry PlayBook. It emerged top in its class of 7-inch tablets, and held its own against the larger tablets such as the Apple iPad 2. The PlayBook took the crown at the Portability Index by a huge margin. This is expected since its battery life is considered very good for a 7-inch tablet. Despite having a larger battery capacity of 5300 mAh and just 5g heavier than the HTC Flyer, the BlackBerry PlayBook managed to outlast the Flyer by more than 100 minutes. This contributed to it scoring almost double that of its closest rival for the Portability Index.  With its relatively lightweight,  portable form factor and long battery life, the PlayBook is an attractive offering for consumers who demand a tablet that performs as well as it looks. 

Do note that our battery test is just a simulation of a fairly stressful usage scenario. Actual battery mileage may vary (for the better) due to different usage conditions.

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The Good
Good battery life
Solid BlackBerry tablet OS
Fast and easy multitasking
Imaging quality & full HD Video Recording
The Bad
Poorly designed power button
Lacks quality/quantity of apps
Lacks basic features such as universal search
Works best with a BB phone
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