BlackBerry Playbook 2: What we’d like to see
We reckon BlackBerry will launch a Playbook successor this year. We've put together the spec we think we'll see inside a BlackBerry Playbook 2
It's easy to see the BlackBerry Playbook - once combined with BB10 -becoming a very competitive product. It's the right size, boasts decent hardware, and it costs next to nothing - just like Google's Nexus 7.
And if you were one of the many people that bought a PlayBook, the advent of BB10 will breathe new life into your device, opening up a world of possibilities that just weren't there before.
BlackBerry's CEO has said his team are currently working on a follow-up to the PlayBook - a device that will launch providing it makes Thorsten Heins some money. And that got us thinking: what would a new Playbook need in order to succeed?
Design and display
There’s actually not a lot wrong with the visual design of the original Playbook. It's compact with reasonably good build quality. We think BlackBerry would do well to keep the 7-inch size rather than opt for a larger 10-inch model as was previously rumoured and leaked.
Smaller form tablets are fast becoming the norm thanks to a string of strong releases from Amazon, Google, and Apple.
The display quality would need ramping up though, the original Playbook has a 1024x600 pixel resolution at 170 pixels-per-inch (ppi), though this is actually better than the iPad Mini.
A new model would want to at least hit similar territory to the Nexus 7, Amazon Kindle Fire HD and Nook HD. This would mean somewhere between 1280x800 pixels at 216ppi and at most 1920x1280 pixels at 256ppi.
A reduction in overall device thickness would be a welcome changealso - the Playbook does looks a little chunky next to the iPad Mini and Nexus 7.
The PlayBook's rubberised backpanel can stay, but we'd like to see a reduced bezel used on the PlayBook 2.0 - see the iPad Mini for an idea of what we've getting at here.
If BlackBerry really wanted to get adventurous it could even mimic its own design style for the BlackBerry Z10 flagship smartphone with its slightly tapered ends.
Another route entirely would be to go for a different set of materials, perhaps brushed aluminium?
It’d be BlackBerry 10, of course. However, there are a few things the original Playbook got wrong on launch, and although these issues were subsequently fixed, the damage was already done- BlackBerry will not want to make the same mistakes twice.
When it shipped, the Playbook didn't have a native email client or calendar, and didn’t have BlackBerry Messenger - three vital cornerstones of the BlackBerry experience for users of the phones.
These features were usable but required users to link the tablet to a BlackBerry smartphone, something widely considered to be badly implemented functionality. This can’t happen again.
Thankfully, it’s unlikely.
While BlackBerry 10 will require optimising for the tablet form factor we can’t imagine it will lose any of its native smartphone features in the process.
BlackBerry 10 on the playbook will of course benefit from the platform’s new interface, which has an ever-present notifications and communications centre called the BlackBerry Hub.
Gesture control is also a key feature and the Playbook 2 would have access to a far broader range of quality apps with the 70,000 plus (and counting) already on BlackBerry App World.
The original Playbook did have an interesting interface implementation which was widely praised for being somewhat similar to HP’s Web OS.
It’s possible as both this and BlackBerry 10 are based on QNX that BlackBerry would seek to merge some of this functionality, but this depends very much on whether the company considers it more important to have closer continuity between devices or a more tailored and purpose-specific tablet interface.