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May 12, 2011

BlackBerry PlayBook: the Editor's Travel Companion


Sure your tablet is nifty for when you are checking emails in a meeting or lounging on the coach surfing the Web, but what about the times when you are on the road and have the chance to take advantage of the mobile device for… well… its mobility.

Having the BlackBerry PlayBook for almost a month now, I have used in it the office, while stuck in waiting rooms and for my own personal browsing when hanging around the house. My first review was on account of my first impressions using the PlayBook, but anticipating a business trip, I was most eager to see how beneficial it would be in a travel setting when I went to Dallas last week for work.

One thing I have learned from traveling with the team a number of times, especially as an editor, is that obtaining a fast and easy connection to WiFi (News - Alert), or any connection for that matter, is like finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Without having an easily accessible browser at an editor’s fingertips, it can turn any trip into a very stressful and unproductive one.

You wouldn’t anticipate running into any Internet issues, especially when going to technology shows that obviously rely on and revolve around connectivity, or staying in hotels where WiFi is abundant, but sadly, in my experience, I’ve run into more issues with being able to sign on line and remote in than I would like to recall.

The best part about using the PlayBook while traveling, and probably the best feature overall in my opinion is the BlackBerry (News - Alert) Bridge feature, which allows users to sync their tablet with their BlackBerry smartphone using both devices’ Bluetooth technology. Tablets share many of the same features, but I think this one really helps BlackBerry to stand apart in the ever-changing tablet market.

Utilizing the Bridge, current BlackBerry users can access their email, (since the PlayBook doesn’t support MS Outlook and other email servers that aren’t web-based) contacts, other messaging on their phone and the golden ticket- your cell phone’s browser.

You’re probably saying to yourself, “What’s so special about the PlayBook, I can access the Internet on my iPad or Samsung (News - Alert) Xoom whenever I want,” but that’s only if you have the 3G versions.

I checked and wrote emails numerous times using the PlayBook whenever I couldn’t grab a connection, including while waiting for our car, when driving to and from different points and even when out to dinner. In fact, I even utilized my Bridge browser when the connectivity in my hotel was less than satisfying and I couldn’t send an email without my laptop freezing every 30 seconds.

Another huge advantage to having the PlayBook as my travel companion is when I was on the plane. Knowing I would be confined to the small constraints of airline seating (thank God I had a window seat) I loaded up the PlayBook with games (Tetris and DoodleBlast are my personal faves) and movies and books from BlackBerry App World. Needless to say, I was more than occupied on my almost four hour flight thanks to the tablet.

Some critics were concerned that the smaller screen size of the PlayBook might not be as appealing to consumers, but in my experience, once you get adjusted to the tablet, the screen is the perfect size to watch videos and play games on.  Not to mention, holding a seven inch tablet on your lap in a seat where you can barely extend your elbows is much more practical and comfortable than popping open your laptop.

Another advantage is the PlayBook’s battery life.  The tablet is good for about eight hours of use and during my four day trip I only had to charge it once.

Well done BlackBerry, the Bridge was a genius concept and definitely helped to make my trip a success. I know there are applications out there that sync tablets to other devices, but I wonder if it will become the standard for smartphones and tablets using the same operating systems to be able to sync effortlessly like the BlackBerry Bridge.

Oh, and the last benefit to the tablet on my trip is as I had it sitting on the table during a meeting, a Samsung rep noticed it and competitively suggested I check out their tablet next.

 Stay tuned for that review, coming soon! 


Stefanie Mosca is a Web editor for TMCnet. Previously she worked as a freelance copy editor for Digital Surgeons LLC. She holds a master's degree in journalism from Quinnipiac University and a bachelor's degree in communication from the University of New Haven. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.



Edited by Stefanie Mosca
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