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BlackBerry PlayBook 4G LTE review

8/10 AVG.
RATING



8/10
Informr score
The BlackBerry PlayBook 4G LTE currently has an Informr score of 8 out of 10. This score is based on our evaluation of 4 sources including reviews from users and the web's most trusted critics.

The "1-Minute" Review

It was quite a long time coming, but after 1.5 years the BlackBerry PlayBook 4G LTE tablet finally got released to the market. It doesn’t differ much from its non-4G LTE-enabled counterpart but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. After all, it takes a lot of hardware cues from the sleek and slim model that came before it, and yet somehow it manages to come out on top in terms of computing power and maximum battery life.

For a tablet that’s being released to the market in 2012, the BlackBerry PlayBook 4G LTE comes with a few rather disappointing features. For one thing, RIM has not seen it fit to update the 7-inch 1024x600 pixel resolution screen, and the main camera on the back still works with a 5-megapixel sensor that does not have an accompanying flash. Hardware improvements are indeed present, though. The fact that these are mostly out of sight doesn’t have to mean they don’t make a difference.

The biggest difference between this and the original BlackBerry PlayBook can be seen in the overall speed in menu or app navigation and Web browsing. This is because of the improved dual-core processor that’s clocked at a higher speed than the one on the previous model. There’s still only 1GB of RAM, but the 4G LTE model makes good use of it as evidenced by the responsiveness of the system during usage. And storage options have now been tripled to include 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB variants for those who need it.

Because of the above-mentioned feature improvements and the fact that the casing is still only 10mm thin, the BlackBerry PlayBook 4G LTE looks like an excellent choice for those who want in on the tablet craze that has taken over the world. The only problem is when you take a look at what RIM’s competition has to offer, you’ll realize that the asking price for a 4G-enabled BlackBerry PlayBook might be a bit too high. BlackBerry fans and those who need 4G support may do good to lean towards this tablet, but if you think that 4G data as a feature is an unnecessary option, you’re better off setting your sights elsewhere.

Need To Know: BlackBerry PlayBook 4G LTE

1. 1.5GHz dual-core processor coupled with 4G LTE speeds makes for very fast Web browsing. (The Good)

2. Overall quality of hardware is top-notch and the casing is as sleek as they come with a 10mm profile. (The Good)

3. The 7-inch screen has a low native resolution of 1024x600 pixels. (The Bad)

4. The retail price for a BlackBerry PlayBook 4G LTE tablet without a contract may be a bit too high for some considering what a user gets as part of the overall package—including the app ecosystem and third-party software/hardware support. (The Bad)


Operating system
BlackBerry
Processor
1.5 GHz
Screen Size
7"
Camera
5+ MP


What the Critics Are Saying...


TelecomTiger

The RIM’s BlackBerry Playbook is a great entry into Tablet market and surely is successful. Two HD camera’s, 1 GHz processor, 1 GB RAM, stereo speakers and microphone, HDMI connectivity, etc. makes it powerful and competitive with Apple and Samsung. Its 7 inch screen size is less in comp...

- TT Gadget Editor, TelecomTiger
Ars Technica

One of the most important features of the PlayBook is its ability to seamlessly integrate with a BlackBerry smartphone, but unfortunately, we did not have a device on hand to test this functionality. RIM has managed to fix the Bridge issue since we last reviewed it, so the PlayBook no longer require...

- Florence Ion, Ars Technica
CrackBerry

The upgraded processor and LTE are nice additions and add to the overall PlayBook experience. Everything just seems to work more fluidly vs. the Wi-Fi version.

- Bla1ze, CrackBerry
N4BB

With 4G connectivity, a faster processor and NFC, the 4G PlayBook is a rock-solid upgrade from the original PlayBook. I’m actually surprised they didn’t call it the PlayBook 2, or the new PlayBook for that matter. The processor is a straight-up beast, the build is still solid, the LTE sp...

- Ross Cheriton, N4BB


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Quick view

Screen Size
7"

The BlackBerry PlayBook 4G LTE's screen size is 7 inches with 600 x 1024 pixels resolution.

Processor
1.5 GHz

There is a 1.5 GHz processor (CPU).

OS

The tablet runs on the BlackBerry 2.0 (Update Available: 2.1) operating system (OS).

Camera
5+ MP
You can take photos or capture video with the tablet's onboard 5+ megapixel camera. There is also a secondary front facing camera with 3+ megapixels resolution.
Storage
32 GB

Internal memory is 32 GB. No external card slot is available for expansion.

Battery
4800mAh

The tablet is powered by a Lithium Polymer (Li-Pol), 4800 mAh battery. BlackBerry's performance ratings are 6 hours Wi-Fi surfing.

PlayBook 4G LTE Specs

Overview
Release date August 9, 2012
Regions available Canada
Networks
UMTS:
850/900/1700/1900 /2100 MHz
LTE:
1700/700 MHz
Data:
HSPA+, LTE
SIM card Micro-SIM
Dual SIM No
Operating System BlackBerry 2.0 (Update Available: 2.1)

Compare BlackBerry Tablets

Secondary OS No
Processor 1.5 GHz
Internal Flash Memory 32 GB
RAM 1 GB
ROM No
GPS Type A-GPS
Digital compass Yes
Flightmode Yes
Hearing Aid Compatible No
TTY/TDD No
SAR Unknown
Languages English
Manufacturer Warranty 1 Year
Accessories Included AC Charger, Manual, Standard Battery
Power & battery
Type Lithium Polymer (Li-Pol)
Battery Capacity 4800 mAh
Removable Battery No
Wireless Charging No
Fast Charging No
Battery Charge Time 3 hours
Video Playback Time Up to: 6 hours
Internet Use (Wi-Fi) Up to: 6 hours
Internet Use (Celluar) Unknown
Reading Time No
Standby Time Unknown
Physical Characteristics
Material Plastic
Colors Black
Dimensions [H x W x D] 13.0 x 19.3 x 1.0 cm (5.1 x 7.6 x 0.4 in)
Weight 425 grams
Water Resistant / Waterproof Unknown
Rugged design No
IP Rating No
Display / Screen
Type Color
Technology LCD
Colors 16.7 million
Resolution 600 x 1024 pixels
Pixel density Unknown
Size 7 inches
3D No
Sensors Ambient Light, Motion / Accelerometer, Gyroscope
Graphics Yes
Themes No
Backlit Illumination Yes
Zoom / Magnification Yes
Screen Orientation Lock Yes
Multi-Touch Yes
Fingerprint-Resistant Coating No
Additional Display Features Capacitive touch screen
Input / Navigation
Touchscreen Yes
Sleep / Wake Key No
Home Key No
Mute Key No
Predictive Text Entry Yes
Physical keyboard No
Text-to-Speech No
Screen Reader No
Keypad/Screen Lock Yes
External Volume Control Yes
Fingerprint Sensor No
Call Management
Wi-Fi Calling No
Voice over LTE (VoLTE) No
Contact List Capacity Unknown
Multiple Numbers Per Contact No
Contact Groups No
Web / Email / Messaging
Web Browser Yes
Email Client Yes
Email Protocols POP3, IMAP
Additional Email Features -
Messaging No
Connectivity
USB Micro-USB 2.0
USB OTG Support No
Infrared No
Bluetooth 2.1
Bluetooth Profiles DUN, HID
Bluetooth Audio Codecs SBC
WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n
WiFi Encryption No
Mobile Hotspot No
WiMAX No
Memory Expansion Slot No
Expansion Slot Info No
PC Synchronization Yes
TV Out Yes
DLNA Support No
NFC No
Camera
Main Camera
Aperture
Unknown
Resolution
5+ megapixels
Dual lens
No
Zoom
Yes
Flash
No
Additional Main Camera Info
White balance
Video Recording Formats
3GP / 3GPP, 3G2 / 3GPP2, H.264 / AVC, MPEG-4, WMV, ASF, AVI
Video Recording Parameters
Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels), 30 fps
Front Camera
Resolution
3+ megapixels
Zoom
1x optical
Additional Front Camera Info
White balance
Video Recording Parameters
Audio / Video
Audio Playback Yes
Audio Formats MIDI, MP3, MP4, AAC, AMR, WMA, WAV, QCP, M4A, OGG
Radio No
Video Playback Yes
Video Playback Formats 3GP / 3GPP, 3G2 / 3GPP2, H.264 / AVC, MPEG-4, WMV, ASF, AVI
Mobile TV No
Streaming Video Yes
External Speakers Yes
Headset Jack 3.5mm
Custom Ringtones Yes
Vibration Alert Yes
Apps
To-Do / Task List Yes
Calendar Yes
World Clock Yes
Alarm Yes
Stop Watch Yes
Timer Yes
Calculator Yes
Currency Converter No
Document Viewer Yes
Viewable document types BMP, DOC, DOCX, GIF, HTML, JPG, PDF, PPT, TXT, XLS
Weather Yes
Stocks No
Maps Yes
NotePad No
Voice Memos / Recorder Yes
Games Downloadable
Apps Downloadable
Included Software / Apps -
More
Additional comments Other Names (AKA): BlackBerry PlayBook Wi-Fi + Cellular

Related Links Manual (PDF)
BlackBerry PlayBook 4G LTE Reviews
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Critic Reviews


TelecomTiger

Fully loaded with advanced features

from TelecomTiger

The RIM’s BlackBerry Playbook is a great entry into Tablet market and surely is successful. Two HD camera’s, 1 GHz processor, 1 GB RAM, stereo speakers and microphone, HDMI connectivity, etc. makes it powerful and competitive with Apple and Samsung. Its 7 inch screen size is less in c...More

The RIM’s BlackBerry Playbook is a great entry into Tablet market and surely is successful. Two HD camera’s, 1 GHz processor, 1 GB RAM, stereo speakers and microphone, HDMI connectivity, etc. makes it powerful and competitive with Apple and Samsung. Its 7 inch screen size is less in comparison to present available tablets in the market. The built quality of playbook is strong but the keys on its Top are very small and hard to press.

Read full review

Less

Ars Technica

Solid hardware and build quality but still no expandable storage

from Ars Technica

One of the most important features of the PlayBook is its ability to seamlessly integrate with a BlackBerry smartphone, but unfortunately, we did not have a device on hand to test this functionality. RIM has managed to fix the Bridge issue since we last reviewed it, so the PlayBook no longer requires tethering to a BlackBerry device in order to be fully usable. However, it is still lacking some functionality which other tablets have, like Skype video chatting abilities and an instant messaging application, which doesn't cater just to the BlackBerry's PIM users....

More

One of the most important features of the PlayBook is its ability to seamlessly integrate with a BlackBerry smartphone, but unfortunately, we did not have a device on hand to test this functionality. RIM has managed to fix the Bridge issue since we last reviewed it, so the PlayBook no longer requires tethering to a BlackBerry device in order to be fully usable. However, it is still lacking some functionality which other tablets have, like Skype video chatting abilities and an instant messaging application, which doesn't cater just to the BlackBerry's PIM users.

As we mentioned in our initial review, it would have been handy to have some native Dropbox integration make its way to the PlayBook. Though it's possible to access and manage third-party cloud storage services like Dropbox and Box.net, it's taxing to have to download a document, edit it in the PlayBook's included Docs To Go app, and then manually re-upload it. Back in its heyday, RIM was successful because of how well the BlackBerry cloud services integrated with the enterprise, but it's time for RIM to evolve and integrate with other services besides Microsoft Office. This is especially important if RIM wants to lure back those who have switched from BlackBerry to a more widely used mobile operating system like Android or iOS.

Admittedly, with the near-total market dominance of Android and iOS over mobile handsets, RIM has a lot to contend with. The PlayBook is a decent device, but it had a plethora of problems at launch which severely hurt its entry into the game, and eighteen months later, many of those problems are still present. If the PlayBook wants its mojo back, RIM needs to act fast. In order to become marketable again, the company needs to continue to push the PlayBook as a standalone device—something that will cater to enterprises and business-oriented consumers. With BlackBerry 10 targeted to hit soon, this could be RIM's chance to start over with a clean slate.

Read full review

Less

CrackBerry

Everything is just a bit faster on the 4G LTE BlackBerry PlayBook

from CrackBerry

RIM's ecosystem isn't huge and it doesn't have as many apps available as Android or iOS but there is more to buying a tablet than just games and apps. The experience as a whole has to be considered and for what the 4G LTE PlayBook offers it's an option that shouldn't be dismissed.

Read full review

RIM's ecosystem isn't huge and it doesn't have as many apps available as Android or iOS but there is more to buying a tablet than just games and apps. The experience as a whole has to be considered and for what the 4G LTE PlayBook offers it's an option that shouldn't be dismissed.

Read full review

Less

N4BB

A rock-solid upgrade from the original PlayBook

from N4BB

With 4G connectivity, a faster processor and NFC, the 4G PlayBook is a rock-solid upgrade from the original PlayBook. I’m actually surprised they didn’t call it the PlayBook 2, or the new PlayBook for that matter. The processor is a straight-up beast, the build is still solid, the LTE speeds are very fast. It’s a very future-proof tablet solution, provided BlackBerry 10 does deliver the complete software package....

More

With 4G connectivity, a faster processor and NFC, the 4G PlayBook is a rock-solid upgrade from the original PlayBook. I’m actually surprised they didn’t call it the PlayBook 2, or the new PlayBook for that matter. The processor is a straight-up beast, the build is still solid, the LTE speeds are very fast. It’s a very future-proof tablet solution, provided BlackBerry 10 does deliver the complete software package.

With a large price gap between the two PlayBook models, it’s not the most worthwhile upgrade for the money. What the PlayBook needs more than anything else is software; software that empowers the user to accomplish complex tasks with the least amount of work. Hence the reason for BlackBerry 10. Sometime in mid-2013, the PlayBook series of tablets should receive the upgrade to BlackBerry 10, which should offer a comprehensive tablet solution for consumers. The 4G PlayBook, as it stands, should appeal to enterprise customers who are looking for a professional, secure, always-connected tablet without the company swimming in red ink. For the average consumer, the original PlayBook is much more of a steal and still is quite fast and capable, especially with a paired BlackBerry smartphone.

Overall, this tablet improves on the Wi-Fi PlayBook in many ways, including some that you’d never expect. With these hardware improvements, the software weaknesses are also more glaring than they were before. Looking at the negatives, you’re not going to be as impressed with the display and the HSPA+ will drain that battery quick. But the latter part was expected. Its lighter and faster, but I’d rather more of that weight go to a larger battery.

We all know that the iPad sells because it has the selection of apps, elegance, and the simplified user experience that many consumers want. Unfortunately, the 4G PlayBook won’t be a best-seller, or even on the podium for that matter. It will likely appeal mostly to enterprise customers looking for that portable, powerful, secure tablet solution. Ignoring software, it truly is a no-compromises tablet. However, the software on the 4G PlayBook is still unchanged from the original PlayBook. Realizing a 4G PlayBook running a complete version of BlackBerry 10 would have been a great success f0r RIM. Remember the potential of the original PlayBook? Double that and you have completely described the 4G PlayBook.

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