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Tablets Reviews
15,669 Reviews PC Advisor Best Buy Award

BlackBerry PlayBook 2.0 review

£169 inc VAT

Manufacturer: RIM (BlackBerry)

Our Rating: We rate this 4 out of 5

RIM's revised BlackBerry PlayBook addresses all the original tablet's shortcomings. It offers unbeatable value at £169, putting budget Android tablets to shame. Read our BlackBerry PlayBook 2.0 review to find out why this tablet should be at the top of your wishlist. UPDATED 7 JUNE 2012.

BlackBerry PlayBook 2.0: Two ways to manage a PlayBook

One of RIM's long-standing claims to fame is its security support, through its BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) and its more than 500 policies IT can apply to a BlackBerry smartphone. If you want to manage a BlackBerry PlayBook via BES, you must do so by tethering it to a BES-managed BlackBerry. Otherwise, you get just the management capabilities inherent to Microsoft Exchange; this should be enough for most businesses, but not some regulated ones or for employees with very sensitive information. The PlayBook is not yet supported by MDM tools as iOS and Android 3 and 4 are, so you can't augment those Exchange capabilities as you can with iOS and many implementations of Android.

But the PlayBook honours RIM's security legacy in its support for separate business and personal data partitions on the device. The business partition is both encrypted and password-secured. The Documents to Go app, for example, can work with both partitions, so users have one app to edit Word and Excel files, while keeping the business data and personal data separate. That's an elegant approach to the mixing of personal and business information endemic to BYOD. Although iOS has a similar notion, its lack of a visible file system means you can't get such a clear and accessible separation of business and personal data as the PlayBook OS offers.

The PlayBook OS supports VPNs and secure Wi-Fi, but as is the case of every non-Apple and non-Microsoft OS I've tested, it can't connect to our corporate Cisco IPSec VPN or to our certificate-based secure Wi-Fi network.

BlackBerry PlayBook 2.0: The PlayBook that RIM should have shipped last April

Although iPads and Android tablets are overall superior to the BlackBerry PlayBook, RIM deserves credit for coming up with a plausible competitor. It's too bad this isn't the PlayBook that shipped in April 2011, before Apple's iOS 5 and Google's Android 4. Ten months ago, the gap between the PlayBook 2.0 OS and the competing iOS 4 and Android 3 the competitors would have been wide but with a plausible chance of being narrowed in a reasonable pace. At this point, despite with the progress RIM has made, the competition has moved even further ahead.

Puttin the competition to the side, I do like how the PlayBook OS's straightforward interface (very much like the defunct WebOS's UI) stands out from the crowd and, overall, is easy to use. One exception is the unintuitive way you set advanced preferences such as VPN configuration.

BlackBerry PlayBook 2.0 Expert Verdict »
BlackBerry PlayBook WiFi 16GB Scores 8.6 out of 10 based on 1030 reviews
7in 1024x600 display
Playbook OS 2.0
16GB storage
802.11a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1 +EDR
1GHz dual-core processor
5MP (Back) 3MP (Front) cameras
1080p Recording and Playback
GPS receiver
Micro USB, Micro HDMI
1 year return to base
  • Build Quality: We give this item 8 of 10 for build quality
  • Features: We give this item 6 of 10 for features
  • Value for Money: We give this item 8 of 10 for value for money
  • Performance: We give this item 8 of 10 for performance
  • Overall: We give this item 8 of 10 overall

The BlackBerry PlayBook 2.0 is a lovely device to hold and use. It’s small and light enough to carry anywhere, and the display is impressive. If BlackBerry could entice more developers to transfer their apps to the platform then it would be truly excellent. At £169, it’s the definition of a bargain.

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