PlayBook and tethering
It's now the third week since I have had the PlayBook, which I have used for personal use by mainly playing with photo software apps, and I have found it difficult to use for everyday activity. If I could get Wi-Fi at work through tethering on the PlayBook, I would use it more — the reason being, I work in a business that has lock down in respect to Wi-Fi. I thought I could tether it to my 3G Apple iPhone, but the PlayBook cannot access internet through my 3G iPhone (on the 3 network). However, tethering works perfectly on a 4G mobile (Telstra network) and it works on my sons' Nokia mobile device, which uses 3's network. I would use this PlayBook for business if it was tethered to my work email through a BlackBerry phone.
Colleague and family impressions
I have shared the PlayBook with my friends, family and colleagues. In fact, for the first week I didn't get to use it much as my sports-loving, university-attending son hijacked it. He's used it frequently on his hour and a half round train trip to uni whilst tethering through his phone — doing what Gen Y do best, Facebook, sports accessing and watching YouTube. At uni, Wi-Fi is everywhere, so he has used it to download lecture notes.
Colleagues who are IT developers have played with it (they're Apple iPad users) and have been blown away by the screen clarity and general design; though, one person has said the lip of the frame "traps dirt" — he's right. Another colleague commented that the rotation (vertical to horizontal use) is much slower in comparison to the iPad (which I think can be put down to making sure that you actually want to rotate it, rather than mistakenly moving it on an angle). He also loved that he could read The Age newspapers on PlayBook as opposed to the iPad (as on the iPad it blurs when blown up).
I thought I would try out the video-chat conference feature on the PlayBook. Alas, it only works for you to conference with others that have BlackBerry PlayBook tablets. However, I googled BlackBerry support and found easy directions on how to use it.
I have read a fair bit about BlackBerry's App World and, unfortunately, the main response has been that there is a lack of apps available. I have come to realise, it's not just the lack of them, it's also the quality. Somehow I am not so ecstatic that I can access the US Citizenship Civics Exam, use drill references for those who serve in the Canadian forces or download a periodic table that won't tell you what "Zn" is, but rather redirects you to a Wiki page. These sorts of apps are useless to me.
Reference apps available in BlackBerry's App World
(Credit: Barb Gannon)
I decided to take the plunge and bought an app from App World called Photo Editor for $2.50. Unfortunately, it doesn't work. There are no frames and the filter processing is unavailable, which is the only reason you would buy it. When you go to use the function it says they're "coming soon". I read the review after I purchased it (big mistake) — there's a lot of grumpy users out there, one person said "Come on BlackBerry, allow the full functionality of this app." I now read reviews before I purchase because the delivery is not usually in the descriptor.
BlackBerry should make sure that the paid-for apps work (nothing cheeses off a customer more than half-baked products) and that they do what they say they do.
Photo Editor app in action — filters are "coming soon"
(Credit: Barb Gannon)
The best photo editing app available in App World is definitely InstaPhoto at $3.75, which has 25 filters to browse through.
Screenshot showing eight of the many InstaPhoto app filters
(Credit: Barb Gannon)
There are language apps that cost approx $1.25 and translate from French to Chinese, travel apps like the Hong Kong City Guide and Las Vegas Casino Map. I paid $1.25 for the Bangkok City Guide app (no customer reviews yet) and found it woeful, missing addresses and contact numbers for airports, restaurants and flight carriers. I can't say I am even sure if I was using it correctly. I struggled with the interface for 30 minutes then gave up.
The BlackBerry apps and the cultural bent of them have a distinct non-Australian/local flavour. To be fair, I believe BlackBerry is sponsoring Rugby (in New Zealand) so there's an Australian Rugby app on its way. Come on BlackBerry, bring out the Aussie Rules apps!
- Pros: Definitely struggling to find something good this week — it would have to be the InstaPhoto app
- Cons: North American-centric apps, free and paid for apps that don't function as per specs, lack of Sports apps for Aussie rules footy
- Overall: You will increase your PlayBook use if you can tether it to your phone or if you have a BlackBerry smartphone.