Monthly Archives: November 2011

Is the Blackberry Playbook Underrated?

Blackberry Playbook

I got one of the $198 Blackberry Playbooks (16GB) from Walmart – but just barely.  I noticed Sunday morning that Walmart was offering the super discounted price – online only.  I ordered one, got the super fast shipping, and have been enjoying my new Playbook since Tuesday.  However, I noticed Sunday evening that Walmart had sold out of the 16GB models

What I like about the Playbook:

  • It feels well built; solid and substantial in your hands
  • The rubberized back is nice
  • The user interface is easy to learn and practical to use
  • I’ve been able to find apps that meet most of my needs
  • Battery life is good
  • It fits in my bag; I can take it with me everywhere
  • User reviews at online retailers are mostly positive

These are my concerns about the Playbook:

  • Professional reviewers are largely critical of the Playbook
  • Blackberry’s App World has a smaller selection of apps than Apple or Android
  • No Kindle or Nook apps

One of the most frequent criticisms of the Playbook is the “tiny” and “difficult to depress” power button.  However, I think the power button functions just fine.  In defense of the reviewers, I did read somewhere that Blackberry was going to raise the power button to make it easier to press.  So, I could have gotten a Playbook with a “new and improved” power button.

Another criticism of the Playbook (and other 7″ tablets) is that it is half the size of the iPad.  Well, I’ve had an iPad 2, and I thought it was a great device, but the 7″ Playbook is a better fit for me because it’s easier  to keep with me at all times.

I like the Blackberry Playbook and think that the bad press it is getting is undeserved.  I also think that the bad press has discouraged developers from devoting resources to creating apps for the Playbook.  But I’ve only been using a Playbook for 3 days.  Let me know what you think.

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OK, Time to Get a Blackberry Playbook

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I was so excited when I heard that Staples was going to be selling Blackberry Playbooks for $199 on Black Friday. I got a little nervous when I found out that the Playbooks were going to be a door buster…translation…my local Staples may only have two in stock on that day. My local Staples is also in a college town, 60 miles from my home. Now I had to worry about how early I should get there Friday morning…would I have to get there hours early and stand in line out in the cold (I hate the cold)…I would need to be the first or second person in line…what if I got there hours early, was the first person in line, then ended up being the only person in line when the doors opened at 6am…oh, what to do!

I’ve been checking prices at all the places that sell Playbooks: Staples, Best Buy, Walmart – as of yesterday, they were all still selling them for $499. Best Buy in Canada was selling them for $199, but they wouldn’t ship – you had to pick it up at the store. Urg! I checked Ebay and the going price for a new Playbook was around $350…and they were all from sellers in Canada…Hmmmm.

Well, this morning I was wanting to know what kind of charger the Playbook came with. I checked Staples website and they didn’t even mention a charger. Then I checked Walmart, and what do you know…they are selling Playbooks for $198 – online only.

I ordered one, along with the convertible case and the fastest possible shipping (shipping cost $33, but it was going to cost at least $20 in gas to go shopping on Black Friday and I should get it by Wednesday).

Now I can look forward to sleeping in on Friday…and when I do get up, I can sit in the comfort of my good ol’ rocking chair with a cup of hot cocoa and my new Playbook.


The Latest Chrome OS Update

I liked the old boot screen

I updated the Chrome OS on my Samsung Series 5 yesterday. I thought chromebooks were supposed to update automatically when you turn them on, without the fuss and interruption that you associate with updating a Windows machine. However, when I went to the About Chrome OS page in Settings, I saw that there was an update available. I had to manually click a button to begin the update. Since this was the first time I had gone through this process, I didn’t try to open any other pages or do anything else until the update was complete. It took several minutes and reminded me of Windows updating on my school computer. Oh well, no big deal.

When the update was complete, the first thing I notices was the new boot screen. Instead of the black screen with “Chrome” in the center (which I really liked), the new screen is white and any graphics look pale against it.

Once I logged in, I noticed that the app icons on the New Tab page were huge. In the old New Tab page, I could adjust the size of the icons, but I haven’t figured out how to do this since the update.

For the past month, Google Docs has given me the option to use the Classic or the New view. I’ve been using the Classic view since the New view is pale, like the new log-in screen, and difficult to read.

On a brighter note, I like the features of the New Tab page and the new format of the Chrome Web Store.


Chromebook – 3G Test

Always Connected

The Samsung Series 5 Chromebooks come with 100 MB of data per month from Verizon – FREE!  This feature played a significant roll in my decision to trade in my netbook and iPad for a chromebook.  I’ve tested the Verizon 3G from my house and it worked, but the wifi at home is fast and reliable, so I haven’t had a reason to really use the 3G…until today.

We spent the day at my in-laws, and AT&T’s data coverage there is not good – no 3G, just Edge.  My iPhone 4 drags when loading web pages.  I fired up the chromebook, disabled the wifi, and enabled 3G.  I was impressed!  The indicator showed that I only had a bar or two of service, but web pages loaded quickly and Google docs ran smoothly.  However, when I loaded a You Tube video, it stuttered a bit.  To be honest, though, with only 100 MB/month, I doubt that  a person would be watching much video without a wifi connection.

Bottom Line:  The free 3G was great for viewing web pages, checking email, and editing documents.  I wouldn’t recommend watching video because of the limited amount of data available and the lag.