back to article RIM doses PlayBook with 4G super serum

In a bid to improve the flavour of its chunky 7in tablet and make it more tasty for punters, RIM has spiced up its PlayBook with a little 4G LTE sauce. Essentially an existing PlayBook but with added faster mobile broadband tech and a clocked-up processor, the "4G LTE BlackBerry PlayBook" - to give it its full name - goes on …


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  1. Scott Earle


    And will it work on frequency bands other than the ones used only in North America? Or when they do start selling it in Europe, Africa or Asia/Pacific, will they have to stop calling it a 4G device like Apple had to do with the "new iPad"?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 4G?

      Not here and a crap screen as well, oooooh I just need to go out... And buy....

      An iPad instead.

      1. Jay Zelos

        Re: 4G?

        An Ipad at £130 quid, good luck....

        I have a older model and the hardware easily outperforms my iPad (not a 3 obviously). Sadly no amount of performance beats having the actual apps to do stuff with though... I wish RIM would get their act together and pay for some killer apps to be ported across, I don't want a straight choice between iOS or Android alone.

      2. DrXym Silver badge

        Re: 4G?

        "Not here and a crap screen as well, oooooh I just need to go out... And buy...."

        The Playbook has a rather good screen.

        1. LarsG

          Re: 4G?

          Re: 4G?

          "Not here and a crap screen as well, oooooh I just need to go out... And buy...."

          The Playbook has a rather good screen.

          Obviously you have not sat next to someone with a new iPad.

          1. DrXym Silver badge

            Re: 4G?

            The Playbook came out before the iPad 3 and costs half as much as it. It still has a good screen for a device of that size. It's bright, pin sharp and has good viewing angles. There are plenty of things to criticize about RIM and the Playbook but the screen isn't one of them.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 4G?

      Currently they're listing HSPA+ at 800,900, 1700, 1900 and 2100MHz, so that should cover most of the world.

      LTE is at 700 and 1700MHz, so it looks like LTE is going to be North America only. Mind you, at the rate that the UK is managing 4G, I'm not expecting to see anything much before about 2020.

  2. Waspy

    I thought RIM had forgotten about this

    Or at least hoped we'd all forgotten about it. It's a shame as it's not a bad tablet since OS 2.0 (I picked up one for 169 in January) - the multitasking is great, it feels quite premium, the swiping gestures are nice and it's a good size. On the downside, it's pretty buggy (the browser often crashes with too many tabs open) and RIM have now decided to remove Android app sideloading, which means you won't be able to get Kindle on it. Not that the average John Lewis iPad buyer would know or care about that

  3. James 51

    Built in telecoms aren't as big an advantage for the playbook as for ipad or android tablets with the bridge app. The faster CPU would be nice but not with losing 32gb for (unless you're getting USB to go or micro SD).

    1. Mike Row

      Not LOSING 32 GB

      The original, Wi-Fi only, Playbook comes in three memory options. 16, 32 and 64. They are dropping the 16 GB option. There is some speculation they might even offer the L.T.E. and other cellular enabled models with 128 GB.

      The new version 2 OS includes bridging to your Blackberry cell phone. All existing Wi-Fi models can be upgraded to the new OS as there is no hardware change involved. The new OS also includes synchronized email and calendar to your blackberry account on the Playbook.

  4. James 51

    Still it's nice to see them continue to support it instead of cutting it lose like so many said they should.

    1. asdf


      spoken as a true rube customer taken in as opposed to a RIM employee desperately praying their position doesn't get eliminated due to cash flow problems.

    2. Giles Jones Gold badge

      It's not even a bad OS. QNX as a base is as good if not better than the Unix base Apple use.

      Where it is losing out is just down to it's bad sales and omissions.

      1. Ommerson

        Lack of clue...

        ....being demonstrated the comment above.

        QNX is a real-time embedded operating system - with a micro-kernel at its core, and POSIX-like layers around it. Which is pretty much same architectural choice as MacOSX/iOS's use of the Mach microkernel. There is absolutely no doubt whatsoever that MacOSX/iOS are both very solid and fit for purpose.

        What really matters for a mobile phone OS are the user-space, user-interface and middleware layers. QNX has very little to offer here, so this is all coming from RIM - and which they are having difficulty delivering in time. At the time of writing, these are an unknown quantity.

        Just about the only things of UNIX origin in iOS are low level system libraries providing POSIX APIs, and some parts of the kernel.

        There's probably a similar amount 'UNIX' in an Android phone too.

  5. Chad H.

    Too little too late.

    The writing was on the wall for RIM the day Microsoft announce Exchange Activesync; it removed their entire USP. They should have (and I'm supprised they didn't) go the anti-trust route of arguing that MS was using their dominant position in enterprise email/contact/calendar servers in an anticompetative way. Don't know if it would have succeeded or not, but it might have bought them some time.

    1. bazza Silver badge

      Re: Too little too late.

      "The writing was on the wall for RIM the day Microsoft announce Exchange Activesync; it removed their entire USP."

      Hardly. Exchange Activesync is yet another email/calendar protocol that relies on an open and live tcp network connection in order for the server to notify the client that something has changed. Fine on a desktop, eye-wateringly bad on a mobile with limited battery life and eats into data allowances.

      In contrast RIM's push notification system was designed for and is very good for mobile platforms (no continually live connection needed). That's good for battery life and data allowances (especially important when abroad). Furthermore their push system is not limited to just email and calendar. Any application developer can take advantage of it (e.g. Facebook or Twitter client apps, or even something bespoke you've written yourself). All in all it works very well.

      I point my own BB at Hotmail. In practise this is results in RIM's servers talking to Hotmail using Exchange Activesync, and RIM's email infrastructure does the rest. I also point Outlook at the same account using MS's Hotmail Connector, which also uses Exchange Activesync. Email consistently turns up on my BB faster than it does on Outlook. Go work that one out, I can't, though RIM are clearly doing a good job of it.

      MS phones may very well have a lot of the same functionality as a BB phone, but neither MS or anyone else have RIM's push system. RIM's QNX is also significantly better than the brain dead NT kernel that is the foundation of Win8, and is arguably better (on a mobile platform) than the Unix/Linux bases of iOS and Android. RIM have the superior technical foundations, but are struggling at the moment to turn those into a must-have overall offering.

      1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Re: Too little too late.

        "....Email consistently turns up on my BB faster than it does on Outlook. ...." As I understand it, that's because RIM's push technology sends a notification to you the minute the email hits the server, whereas Activesync will be using scheduled pull requests to go see if there is a message waiting. If the email arrives just after the last pull request then your Outlook client will not know about it until the schedule sends the next request, whereas the BB tech has already sent a push. The Activesync model uses data and bandwidth with every request whether there is an email waiting or not, whereas the RIM tech is more efficient as it only sends a push when one is waiting. If you use the "Reconcile Now" option in your BB email it is doing an Activesync-like pull request.

  6. cosmo the enlightened

    Oh my gosh!

    "The corpse just moved." said Watson.

    "Don't worry. They are electrical discharges from the remnants of a once living thing." replied Holmes.

  7. DrXym Silver badge

    Not so much Playbook 2 as Playbook 1.5

    Aside from a faster clocked CPU and a 4G modem it's hard to see much difference between this and the older model. That isn't necessarily a bad thing as the old tablet is rather good although it's not android which is its biggest problem.

    1. bazza Silver badge

      Re: Not so much Playbook 2 as Playbook 1.5

      "That isn't necessarily a bad thing as the old tablet is rather good although it's not android which is its biggest problem."

      I agree - their tablet is pretty slick, I have one and prefer it to Androids and iPads. Whilst it *isn't* Android, there are a lot of Android apps being ported to the Playbook (it's a five minute job, RIM have been clever there) and are turning up on the app store. So, not Android, but does that actually matter if you can run Android apps?

      1. DrXym Silver badge

        Re: Not so much Playbook 2 as Playbook 1.5

        It's not a five minute job. I have a Playbook (thanks RIM for sending me one!) and I'd say it takes about 90 minutes to build, package and test my app on the Playbook to make sure it works properly. The biggest issue from a dev standpoint is that their Android runtime is 2.3 which doesn't contain all the stuff Google added to 3.x to support tablets. That means I have to hack some layouts to make the app look good. I have to maintain a branch for these and other changes. Setting up the RIM dev environment is also a pain because you have to get keys off RIM rather than generating your own and install a bunch of extra plugins. Their VM image is also completely broken with painting issues for Android so you have to test with a real device.

        RIM's vendor portal involves work too because it wants its graphics and feature art in a different resolution to the ones on Android so that's another hour wasted setting all that up. And once I submit my update a ticket gets opened and I can enjoy up to a week turnaround. On Google's market you get a 10 minute turnaround so if you screw up and find a bug you can quickly rectify it.

        It's a timesink and I reckon I'm looking at close to 3-4 hours of effort to upload something and deal with issues. Amazon's app store is just as bad IMO.

        1. bazza Silver badge

          Re: Not so much Playbook 2 as Playbook 1.5

          @ DrXym: "It's not a five minute job."

          Sorry, I know, I was being flippant... But the fact that an Android app can be ported instead of having to completely rewrite it is something I think sets a good example for the rest of the handset manufacturers.

          Of course, it is probably far more important to RIM in these times of corporate strife to be semi-compatible with another ecosystem (they chose Android). I very much doubt that Google or Apple consider it vital to be compatible with RIM! However, imagine how nice it would be if there was a common execution run time environment available on Android, iOS, RIM and Win8. Shame that commercial interests at Apple, Google and MS mean that they hide from competition in their walled gardens. AFAIK only RIM provide the standard Java runtime.

          1. DrXym Silver badge

            Re: Not so much Playbook 2 as Playbook 1.5

            There is a common runtime - HTML and JS. Unfortunately it's only useful for writing some sedentary app which shows content. Android / iOS / RIM all share C/C++ and could use QT if they wished, or OpenGL, or any other portable API. It's probably why RIM does pick up the odd leavings from the other platforms, also thanks to its Android layer.

            Windows Phone 7 is completely screwed. Windows Phone 8 may get C/C++ too but I don't know enough info to understand how it works. I doubt MS would implement OpenGL and it could take some time for QT to be ported.

  8. Steve Todd

    The Reg seems to be living under the invalid assumption

    that the current playbook does 3G. It doesn't. It can tether to a Blackberry or it can use WiFi, that's it.

    Because of this there is no on-contract price, except if your carrier throws one in for free/cheap with a BB. That £129 price is contract free, unsubsidised and shows you just how desperate RIM are to shift them.

    1. bazza Silver badge

      Re: The Reg seems to be living under the invalid assumption

      " It can tether to a Blackberry or it can use WiFi, that's it."

      Blackberry Bridge used to have a 'Bridge Browser' - essentially the phone's web browser somehow remoted to the Playbook. It meant you could use the phone as the 3G connection without incurring any tethering charges, so there really was no need to have 3G in the playbook.

      However it didn't work so well in my experience but the idea was sound. Shame that they took it out in OS2.0 instead of fixing it properly.

      1. James 51

        Re: The Reg seems to be living under the invalid assumption

        I have used the bridge to surf the internet on the playbook while out and about and it worked as well as could be expected (my networks 3G coverage being what it is).

  9. Matt Bryant Silver badge


    That's what I want, a BB phablet. I don't want a BB or Apple media consumption device, which is all either offering is currently, as Android tablets do that better, cheaper, and without any walled gardens. But a BB tablet with phone capability, 3G, and with the ability to connect to a BES as well as BIS, and then I'd be tempted. And no, adding a 3G dongle to an iPad is not the same thing.

    1. Mike Row

      Re: Phablet!

      Ah!! the Phabulous Tablet - Playbook

      Try to keep up with the times.

      1. Matt Bryant Silver badge

        Re: Re: Phablet!

        "....Try to keep up with the times....." Being able to use Blackberry Internet Service (BIS) email is nice but not the same ability as being able to link directly and securely to a Blackberry Enterprise Server (BES) like a BB phone. Currently, the only way to link the new Playbook to a BES will be by BB Bridge (see here I want BB smartphone capability on the phablet in the same manner as a BB phone. I guess what I really want is a BB Torch with an 11in screen and 128GB of memory.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm pretty sure that if a phone with a 4-5 inch screen can be 1280x700 odd that a 7 inch tablet should be running that at a minimum.

    Sure, you hold a tablet further away from your eyes often but this seems to be a rather low spec device for the money it will cost.

  11. LucasNorth

    It doesn't bed the question, it raises the question.

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