I’m a big fan of unpacking new gadgets. I enjoy the first impressions that I get usually. I’ll admit that I find the unboxing experience of Apple products to be pretty amazing and I use them as the bar, knowing that is a high standard.

So, I started unboxing a new PlayBook (64GB) that I picked up for a project I am working on. The packaging is fairly good. A lot better than the weak efforts that Dell puts forth for example. Here are some early thoughts that come from setting it up (twice) and using it for a short period of time:

  • Account – I created my Blackberry ID and managed to munge my email address (@Xontinuumloop…) and that isn’t a good thing at all. To recover you have to finish the setup then do a full data wipe, which restarts everything, including re-doing the PlayBook OS update (500+MB).
  • Tutorials – These MANDATORY tutorials teach you about the Home Screen (swipe bottom edge up) and the Applications Menus (swipe top edget down). Given that I had to do a wipe I had the pleasure of having to do this twice – not fun.
  • Form Factor – The device is a good size though. I find my iPad (gen 3) is too big to be grabbing all the time. When I read at night I reach for my iPhone to check emails and now that I have this PlayBook, I may reach for it.
  • Apps – Apps are a huge weakness. The RIM folks have never understood apps like Apple and Microsoft do. They’ve always been very rigid in what they allow and unfortunately that is reflected by a dearth of apps. Even the baseline apps that come pre-installed aren’t very popular. Look at Zinio, which is installed. Go to Zinio’s site and you can’t even find mention that they have something other than iOS (iPad and iPhone/iPod touch variants), Android, and even WebOS are on the products page. No mention of the PlayBook app.

There are some really good things coming for BB10 and I will say that I am impressed with RIM opening up on the development front. However, with last weeks quarterly results, yet another delay on BB10, and the general malaise in the RIM market I’m worried. RIM used to be pretty damned hot and the problem I think is that they knew it.

I’m looking forward to doing some MASAS work on the PlayBook. The HTML JavaScript extensions that RIM added for capturing Audio, Pictures, and the high level of HTML5 support make it look pretty powerful. The concepts will be portable though. I just hope that RIM is still around long enough to get out of this funk they created.