Blackberry Playbook vs HTC Flyer

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We pitch the BlackBerry Playbook, the business tablet, against HTC’s new Flyer to see which is the best mini-tablet.

Form:

HTC Flyer – 195.4 x 122 x 13.2 mm, 420.8g

BlackBerry Playbook – 194 x 130 x 10 mm, 425g

We’re not huge fans of the 7-inch ‘giant phone’ tablet styles in general but between these two the Playbook has something of the edge.

The only odd thing about the BlackBerry visually is the amount of black space around the edge of the screen, while on the Flyer the screen fits much more flush to the device – it looks like unnecessary extra space and makes the Playbook seem a bit bulky.

Apart from this the Playbook generally looks sleeker and more attractive, being thinner and shorter than the Flyer and looks nicer with its black plastic.

The Flyer isn’t the best looking tablet on the market, with fairly nasty looking silver bodywork all around. It is reasonably thin and compact but nothing to go nuts over.

Winner – BlackBerry Playbook

Display:

Both tablets have 7-inch screens. The HTC Flyer has a capacitive LCD touchscreen at 600 x 1024 resolution and features multi-touch, accelerometer and the HTC Sense user interface.

It also has handwriting support and capacitive buttons, which rotate with the phone, just like the HTC Incredible S.

The Playbook has opted for a TFT capacitive touchscreen, also at 600 x 1024 resolution, with multi-touch and accelerometer.

There’s not much between these two on screens other than a few extra quirks on the HTC so we’re calling this one a draw.

Winner – Draw

Processor:

HTC’s Flyer uses a 1.5 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor while the BlackBerry Playbook uses a
Both offer pretty good processing ability – these devices should be able to run contemporary apps games and media quite well without being anything exceptional.

The extra GHz and the efficient yet powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon technology in the Flyer make it preferable to the Playbook.

Winner – HTC Flyer

Storage and memory:

The Flyer features 32 GB of internal storage and
The Flyer supports Micro SD up to 32 GB but, sadly, the Playbook does not follow suit and has no card support at all.

While the Flyer’s 32 GB is more than adequate the Playbook has outdone HTC with double the storage space. It’s a shame RIM didn’t include card support but despite this the sheer volume of on-board storage makes the Playbook the overall winner this round.

Winner – BlackBerry Playbook

Camera:

RIM’s Playbook has a 5-megapixel primary camera with autofocus, which captures photos at a resolution of 2592×1944 pixels and in 1080p. It also has a secondary 3-megapixel camera.

The HTC Flyer also has a 5–megapixel primary at 2592Ñ…1944 but in 720p, and features autofocus and geo-tagging. The Playbook has a 1.3-megapixel secondary camera.

Both are reasonably good camera setups, in the world of numbers, but the Playbook has a few advantages in image and video capture quality and the secondary camera boasts a few more megapixels, which should push it just ahead of the HTC in this category.

Winner – BlackBerry Playbook

Operating System:

HTC produces a lot of Android based devices and the Flyer is no exception, though, in an odd twist the Flyer is using Android 2.3 Gingerbread, designed for smartphones, rather than the tablet-specific 3.0 Honeycomb.

We’re used to occasionally seeing this scenario reversed, with tablets using non-Honeycomb updates, but it is just as bizarre as this peculiar occurrence with the Flyer.

Gingerbread is the better of the smartphone based Android systems but Honeycomb would have been more appropriate with further improvements over Gingerbread to the interface, browser, keyboard and multitasking as well as some tablet-specific tailoring.

The strength of the Android system is its versatility and customisation and Gingerbread certainly capitalises on this. RIM has used its own BlackBerry Tablet operating system, which does a better job of multitasking than many other systems, other than Android.

Apart from that it’s reasonably competent at doing all the things you might expect from a tablet with its QNX heritage, Flash 10.1, Mobile Air and HTML 5 support.

It doesn’t have the same customisation and app support as Android though and for that reason we think the Flyer is the better choice in this category.

Winner – HTC Flyer

Apps:

RIM probably hoped that the BlackBerry tablet OS would take off and attract more app developers than it has. It’s not completely devoid of apps but there isn’t a great deal of choice on offer, particularly when you compare it to what is available for Android Gingerbread on the Flyer.

The Flyer has a lot of options on Gingerbread – there are thousands of apps on Android and being on the latest OS with a decent amount of processing power means the Flyer will be power them effortlessly.

Winner – HTC Flyer

Final Thoughts:

The Flyer has come out as the better tablet despite its looks, but it is by no means an exceptional tablet and we were surprised at its spec sheet when it was announced at Mobile World Congress earlier this year. Amidst a crop of very powerful next-gen devices, the Flyer came across as decidedly ‘current-gen’.

The same could be said of the Playbook. Whilst certain predictions of it being ‘dead on arrival’ were clearly something of an exaggeration, it is also being outshone by much of the competition by its comparatively low specs in the current market.

Having said that, its bigger problem lies in how little the BlackBerry Tablet OS has been taken up by third party developers, making a mediocre system much less attractive from the lack of app support.

The better of the two devices is the Flyer but that’s not to say it’s a great tablet. It’s ok at what it does but it’s certainly not future-proof, especially with the dual-core tablet crowd looming.

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