Blackberry PlayBook OS 2.0 is Good But Late

It is clear that the Blackberry Playbook OS 2.0 upgrade which includes a first-ever email client needed to be perfect. After all, we have been waiting for this major release since May of last year. Sadly, it isn’t all it should be. It is however much better… The integrated email client is a great improvement over web-based email solutions users were once forced to use. As TMCnet’s Amanda Ciccatelli points out, the new OS allows integration with Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and multiple e-mail accounts.

The good news is connecting to a corporate email account without BES was very easy. I just entered my email address and password and it synced up to our Microsoft Exchange Server immediately, filling in the necessary information such as the server address, port number, SMTP port, SMTP encryption and other information I didn’t have to be bothered with. This isn’t generally the case with other wireless devices I have connected to our email. Interestingly though it gave me an error once the info was filled in but on a subsequent retry it worked perfectly.

What is surprising however is the email client doesn’t always seem to be capable of performing real-time email display, meaning if you watch emails come into your PC live and look at the Playbook you realize they aren’t there on the screen.

On two out of three occasions I noticed this problem but on one out of three the syncing was perfect. Hopefully the issue goes away permanently. It is worth noting that a Windows Mobile device I had some years back had a similar challenge from time to time.

Other enhancements have to do with better syncing between your Blackberry smartphone and tablet – great additions to people who can’t live without their handheld RIM devices. In addition, the predictive next word completion and auto correction have improved and there is better productivity and management software as well.

You can even run specially modified Android apps – another major plus for people feeling app envy.

The challenge for RIM in my opinion is this device is good but not good enough to steal users.

Four years ago a tablet that worked seamlessly with a Blackberry smartphone would have been killer but now the appeal of these smartphones has decreased and has been replaced by the public’s desire to have an iOS or Android gadget.

But then again, pricing for the Playbook is less than half of what it once was at $225 for a 16GB version up to $329 for a 64GB version.

And in many ways with two cameras the PlayBook is far superior to the Amazon Kindle Fire which comes in at $199 and includes a year of Amazon Prime service.

But the challenge is momentum is on the side of Amazon in the seven inch tablet race. Moreover RIM not only missed the move to touchscreen devices they also missed the move to the consumerization of IT.

Point being, the entertainment options available to the Kindle Fire – from music to movies make it a better device for users who are looking for more than just a work gadget – something that they can not only use for email but also to watch a movie.

Still, the Playbook is a solid device – and as a corporate tablet is a great choice due to the better security and management options than most other tablets on the market.

The 2.0 upgrade is very good but also very late. And in my experience an OS update isn’t enough to sway market momentum. Especially when for the most part it is a catch up update.

Update Feb 22, 9:09 pm: I am having a tough time getting the PlayBook to sync with Yahoo email. It will sync with Calendar and contacts just not email. I certainly hope this is a Yahoo problem and not the PlayBook but after 25 minutes of trying and rebooting this device it is getting frustrating.

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