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Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Playbook

RIM recently released a video "previewing some of the cool stuff [they're] doing with the Blackberry Playbook browser." From the video, it certainly looks like the Playbook wipes the floor with the iPad. It loads pages faster. It supports "dynamic" content, by which they mean Adobe Flash. It passes the ACID3 test. Of course the video is incredible, they'd be fools to release a video that wasn't. But after thinking about it for a little while, I came to the realization that it wasn't really that amazing at all.

This video is showing a speed comparison between 2 devices. Yes, they're both tablets but it's not really a fair comparison. The iPad has been shipping to customers for about a year. Since Apple doesn't rev the hardware between releases that makes the hardware at least a year old, if not older. As for the Playbook, there's no official release date yet. All we've so far is early 2011, which means sometime between January and March. Assuming that the Playbook's hardware specs have been nailed down, the video is comparing a brand new device with one that's a year old. Of course the new one's going to be faster, no surprise there.

The sites that RIM picked for the demo were obviously not chosen at random. Clearly these were sites that they knew would show off the features of the Playbook. Almost any site would loaded faster and performed better on the Playbook given that it's newer. Similarly, the Playbook claims that it has better ACID compliance than the iPad. Both devices, as far as I know, use WebKit. Safari on the iPad is just using an older version of it. Maybe we'll see better ACID compliance out of Safari on iOS 4.2 which should be released in the next week or so.

While the video was certainly impressive at first glance, after some thought it's really not that amazing at all. In fact, it leaves a lot of open questions. What's the battery life like on the Playbook? Sure the device appears faster and supports flash, but if you can only use it for a few hours what's the point? How smooth is the UI? Where are the Apps? I'm sure RIM has a good answer for all of these questions, I just wish they'd stop releasing marketing material and just ship the damn thing and let it stand for itself.