I had the opportunity to spend some time with Fraser Edwards, the Senior Market Development Manager of Healthcare for Research in Motion (RIM), at HIMSS11. Of course we spent some time discussing how BlackBerry devices are being used in healthcare and how much more secure they are than most other wireless devices, especially when combined with BlackBerry Enterprise Server. If you want more information on how those devices are being used in a hospital environment you can check out this video. However, the highlight of the discussion for me was the ability to get some hands on experience with the amazing new BlackBerry PlayBook.
I’ll admit up front that I’m a big fan of the iPad and I really didn’t expect to be overly impressed by the PlayBook, but I was. The version I saw had a 1 GHz dual-core processor (which I believe is standard) and showed amazing power. We were able to open several browser windows, one running flash video, while running an HD movie. It’s extremely easy to flip between pages and applications and there was absolutely no lag time in what I saw.
I also loved the size of the device. It’s a bit smaller than an iPad but it will actually fit into a suit jacket pocket. The seven-inch screen size is quite good for media viewing and it seemed fine for web page reading as well.
One other really cool feature is the HDMI port, which allows you to easily hook the PlayBook up to your HD television through HDMI. The device actually supports 1080p output for true HD video. This is geeky cool but may be a bit impractical. I’m not sure how many people would actually store 1080p video on the PlayBook.
Overall this is a technically brilliant device and I’d love to have one. However, the secret sauce in the mass market for any tablet device is the number of available apps and RIM is starting pretty far behind on that count. I overheard one public demo viewer ask if they were going to have an Amazon Kindle app and the presenter either didn’t know or couldn’t say. For this device to become successful on a large-scale it will require a large development community to begin porting existing apps over to the BlackBerry tablet OS quickly.
The PlayBook is scheduled to be released during Q-1 of this year and you can stay up to date on the delivery progress here.