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RIM Ups The Ante With PlayBook vs iPad Video

David Gilbert


RIM has been pretty vocal in bigging-up its soon-to-be released 7in PlayBook tablet and there seems to be no stopping head man Jim Balsillie from making bold statements these days.

Last week he announced the PlayBook would be competitively priced at under $500 and at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco today, Balsillie said RIM’s tablet would be “three to four times faster” than the iPad at browsing the web. An ole Jim didn’t just come to the party with big words, he also had a video to back up his claims.

In the video we can see the size difference between the two tablets with the iPad being significantly larger. However as we always say, size ain’t everthing and shortly after the start of the demonstration it appears clear that Balsillie’s claims could be backed up.

The video looked a number of different websites (though strangely not TrustedReviews) being rendered by both devices. The PlayBook seemed to handle the rendering a lot quicker and when it came to the issue of Flash compatability, the iPad was left standing. While the PlayBook displayed Adidas’s website in all its glory, the iPad showed an error message and a pretty plain looking website.

Balsillie went on to criticize Apple’s system of using apps to access online content saying: ““We believe that you can bring the mobile to the web-You don’t need to go through some kind of software development kit. That’s the core part of our message. You can use your existing development environment.”

The PlayBook was first unveiled at a live demonstration of the BlackBerry PlayBook last month at Adobe MAX. It is set to hit the shelves in the States in the first quarter of next year with the tablet going global by the end of the first half of 2011. Two weeks ago, Adobe unveiled the SDK for its Adobe AIR platform supporting the Blackberry Tablet OS. RIM is hoping that AIR’s cross platform appeal will persuade developers that otherwise might not look at Blackberry OS to code apps for the PlayBook.

The tablet will feature a 7in display with 1,024 x 600 resolution. As expected, it will run the QNX operating system from the company RIM purchased earlier this year, and it will multi-task from the off. It will be 9.7mm thick and weigh 400g, making it thinner and lighter than the iPad.

The video comparing the two devices is a very compelling argument for the PlayBook, though obviously web browsing is only one aspect of a tablet computer and we will have to wait and see what else it will bring to the party.


November 17, 2010, 10:43 pm

""" Anything-you-can-do-I-can-do-better""" MEH!


November 17, 2010, 11:26 pm

I think companies like RIM should have learned by now to openly criticise Apple. Apple, has the hardware down to a T, all they lack is the direct hardware html rending that is now starting to appear in a lot of browsers. I'm sure they're working on it, and once they finish, RIM will be back playing catch up.

Not that I'm a massive fan of Big Brother, but the point is that as Chocoa said, meh. Innovation is the key to success, not playing one upsee's.


November 18, 2010, 12:53 am

ipad innovative? twas not the first of its ilk by a long shot. Apple are not innovators, (the ipod was not the first mp3 player either), Apple execute well in design and marketing and currently enjoy a cult following. Im not saying the RIM playbook will outsell the ipad because it wont, even if it does turn out to be a better product.


November 18, 2010, 3:27 am

Lamboy you've just contradicted yourself, Apple were clearly innovative with the iPod, giving it intuitive and before unseen features from a portable device that appealed to the masses, and the same with the iPad, Apple has created an almost new market with the iPad, just look at how many competitors are now bringing out tablets to grasp some of Apple's marketshare

Hans Gruber

November 18, 2010, 5:54 am

The most striking thing about that comparative video is in the difference between screen quality of the two devices.


November 18, 2010, 7:47 am

weirdwilli; you seem to have confused popularity and hype with innovation. There were tablets in existence well before the ipad, Apple took the basics of a previous product (obviously the ipod touch/iphone) and melded them with tablets. Whether the ipod is innovative or not is another issue, but the ipad is simply an enlarged version of a product that Apple was already shifting millions of, wrapped up in a deliriously attractive body. If innovation means style, then Apple win hands down: but it doesn't.


November 18, 2010, 7:49 am

Regarding the iPod - innovative and unseen features? I thought all they did was put a click-wheel on it and make it pretty. Oh, and the iPad is not innovative, it's a fat iPod Touch. That doesn't mean it's not very pretty and desirable. Indeed if it could run flash and cost a bit less i'd buy one.


November 18, 2010, 2:01 pm

I suppose it depends on what you perceive as innovative in tech type markets. There is, in my opinion, very little innovative about nearly all of what makes up Apple's gear as and I can see the arguments why some wouldnt find any of their user interfaces innovative either but Apple have a fantastic ability of pulling together all the pieces and usually putting them all into a highly intuitive user experience.

There is therefore innovation in the overall package so to speak just not in any of its parts. I suppose it's like arguing that a bike isn't innovative because we had wheels for a few hundred years as well as variations of "turning" systems before it was put together to make a bike.

Brian Carter

November 18, 2010, 2:21 pm

{Ignoring the "innovation vs. doing something better than anyone else before" argument :}

I liked the way that they refused to use the ".com" button on the ipad - otherwise it would have looked like the ipad was easier/quicker to use.

Having said that, from a business perspective, speed/portability of javascript etc. is probably crucial for their intranets and so there were useful tests in the demo. However, few business users need moving graphics - it's more for generating static results (I would have thought).

More interesting to me is whether a smaller screen is better/worse. In meetings I can imagine wanting to show somebody something without having to shove it in their face and for that the ipad would be more usable.


November 18, 2010, 2:27 pm

would it have been too much trouble for them to use bookmarks instead of typing every website in?

what a dull video


November 18, 2010, 3:19 pm

I played with an ipad in an Apple shop for the first time (to the overwhelmingly loud strains of the brilliant Beatles song, "The Long and Winding Road", now ruined for me as a constant reminder of Jobsy's hubris). Although it feels like a quality piece of kit, and I am familiar with all the pros and cons from these reviews, I was still amazed at how crap the keyboard is. No word suggestions. No swyping type action. No concession to the lack of any physical keyboard.

I think that as a device for consuming media, it's great, but for creation of media, especially of emails and written documents, it will be pants until they come up with a better keyboard solution.


November 18, 2010, 4:30 pm

@weirdwilli - The first mp3 player did actually win an innovation award back in the late 90s with AudioHighways 'Listen Up' player. I bet it sounds as bad as an iPod today! Why do apple make stuff that looks so good but sounds so bad???


November 18, 2010, 4:58 pm

@ Bluepork

The thing I don't understand about the keyboard, especially in landscape is, is it such a bad idea just to split it down the middle (somewhere along the T, F, V keys maybe) and just shift each half along a bit to the left and right side, so that they're both more reachable with your thumb? Inelegant perhaps, but seems like an easy way to make things slightly more useable when it's picked up.


November 18, 2010, 5:09 pm

@Bluepork: To mis-quote SJ himself - "you&#8217re using it wrong". I find the iPad is great to type on as long as it&#8217s in a cover that allows you to position it at an angle in landscape mode. In its "Snugg" case I can type as fast as I can on a conventional keyboard (this could be because I'm not a proper touch typist though). If you are holding the device, and trying to type one handed in portrait I imagine it&#8217s a nightmare. I've also used the tiny Apple Bluetooth keyboard with it but stopped using it as I found it unnecessary.

As for the Playbook, I tend not to make judgements on demos designed by manufacturers specifically to make their product look good. I have a cache and it get used for browsing the comparison is meaningless in the real world. Also I use the Atomic web browser which is generally faster than Safari. That said if the Playbook can play flash smoothly (it looks choppy in the demo) and it doesn't hammer battery life than that's an impressive first.

On the innovation argument, it is true that Apple tend not to innovate on technology. They do however maximise usability, which you could argue is a form of innovation.


November 19, 2010, 4:22 pm

@BeardedHawk: I do touch type, as it happens. However, I found that even with the two finger stabbing technique, I was mistyping a lot. Just try the standard Android keyboard with it's word suggestions as you go for one idea as to how it can be improved. I'm not necessarily saying that one can't type quickly on the ipad, just that it requires a lot more effort to do so.

I suppose some people might say this comes down to one of those Apple control versus open source OS type arguments. I don't think this is so because, although I have an Android phone, I can see the advantages of Apple locking everything down.

However, if the lockdown is a given, then the keyboard design is one area where Apple definitely have no boast to make about being innovative. Quite the reverse.

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