If your smartphone is your business lifeline, then don’t you want to make it as powerful as possible? Many people have answered this question in the affirmative. That often involves ditching an underpowered BlackBerry device for something that packs a bit more punch — typically an iPhone or an Android. Talk to them a few months after switching and they’ll probably say they love their new phone, but they miss the old BlackBerry messaging system. Isn’t there a balance in the middle?
Research In Motion has heard the cries about how the competition overwhelms its BlackBerry, and it has responded in kind. First, it released faster, more powerful BlackBerry devices this year. These still aren’t on par with the iPhone and new Android devices, but they’re head and shoulders better than old BlackBerry models. Second, it released the PlayBook, a tablet PC that packs a ton of punch into a small package. Used in conjunction with your BlackBerry, it can be a powerful business tool.
It works with your BlackBerry
Used on its own, the PlayBook might not stack up to the competition. It has a much smaller application library than Android and the iPad, and it doesn’t have native email or calendar applications. Those are pretty essential features for any viable tablet. So how does the PlayBook compete in the marketplace? By working right alongside BlackBerry smartphones.
When you set up a BlackBerry PlayBook, you’re prompted to download the BlackBerry Bridge app to your smartphone. That uses your phone’s Bluetooth connection and talks to the PlayBook. You can then read email, check your calendar, and even use BBM all on the PlayBook’s big screen. Your PlayBook is then essentially a supersized, fast, high-resolution BlackBerry.
It’s all in the size
Imagine reading the above two paragraphs, but replacing BlackBerry with iPhone and PlayBook with iPad. That might not sound so appealing. The iPhone already has a high-resolution screen, and the iPad is a large device that is inconvenient for many purposes. The PlayBook, on the other hand, is a compact device. It measures just seven inches diagonally, and is narrow enough to fit in your back jeans pocket. It brings the best in portability.
This is a huge consideration for the business owner who travels frequently. On the one hand, toting around a laptop can be a big pain. On the other hand, getting serious work done on a BlackBerry just isn’t practical. The PlayBook, though, provides a balanced solution. Its size makes it super portable, but it’s not so small as to be unusable. In fact, it’s conceivable that you could get an entire day’s worth of work done using your PlayBook tethered to your BlackBerry smartphone.
Plenty of features to come
When RIM released the PlayBook in April, it did so as an incomplete product. While the software functioned as intended, and while it did contain plenty of apps, including BlackBerry Bridge, the PlayBook still has more to come. In the coming months it will gain a number of features that will allow it to be the perfect balance between work and entertainment.
First is the addition of email and calendar apps. This isn’t a problem for BlackBerry smartphone owners, since they can just use the bridge app to gain access to these. But for others, it’s a big deal. That means you can enjoy the perks of an Android smartphone, but still get your BlackBerry messaging features from the PlayBook. The addition of the calendar is big as well, since it makes the PlayBook an all-in-one organizational tool.
Second, Android apps are coming to the platform. Again, these are mostly for fun — the PlayBook already has most of your business essentials. But that’s the point. If you’re going to own a tablet, why not have some fun during off hours? The addition of Android apps will make the PlayBook that much more enjoyable for the times you’re not working on it.
The BlackBerry is not perfect. It does a few things very well, though, and many people stick with it because of those. They’re making efforts to become more modern, too. The new smartphones are just one aspect. The PlayBook is another. Used in conjunction with a BlackBerry it’s a viable road workstation. Any small business owner who travels at all could benefit greatly from owning a PlayBook. It’s like injecting your BlackBerry with steroids.