Even With Today's Big Update, The PlayBook Is Still A Pitiful Excuse For A Tablet

blackberry playbook 2.0

Photo: Steve Kovach, Business Insider

It’s been more than 10 months since RIM launched its first tablet, the BlackBerry PlayBook.At that time, reviewers, including us, completely ripped the PlayBook apart. There was a horrible app selection. It couldn’t send BBMs or emails without tethering to a BlackBerry phone. There was no calendar. It was poorly designed.

And so on. And so on.

“But wait!” RIM told everyone. “The PlayBook is going to get better!”

Those improvements were supposed to come in a big software update last summer. Then RIM pushed the update to the fall. Then we didn’t know when it would come out. Then we were told February 2012.

Well, here it is. RIM launched its big PlayBook 2.0 update that finally adds many of the missing features.

Click here for screenshots of PlayBook 2.0 >
The biggest changes include a new messaging app that pulls in your email, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter messages in one unified inbox. There’s also support for Android apps, which will help bolster the PlayBook’s app library. Finally, the new calendar app pulls in events from Facebook, Google, and other common services.

Other than that, there are a few minor cosmetic changes. It’s still the same PlayBook it was yesterday. And for RIM, that’s not a good thing. 

PlayBook sales are bombing. So much so that RIM has already dropped the price down to $200 for the cheapest model.

Today’s update is too little, too late for the PlayBook. It’s still just as dead as ever.

It’s nice that the Messages app pulls in stuff from email, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, but it’s barely usable. For example, you can’t send a message over your social networks to someone who isn’t already stored in your contacts.

As far as apps go, RIM says it added thousands of new apps to the BlackBerry App World today, many of them Android apps. Yes, there are some nice apps like Box and Angry Birds Rio, but the store is still riddled with junk. It’s clear developers aren’t taking the PlayBook seriously.

And the PlayBook is still missing RIM’s most popular product, BBM. The only way to access BBM on the PlayBook is to link it to your BlackBerry phone. Don’t have a BlackBerry? You’re out of luck. 

Even with today’s big update, the PlayBook is still a pitiful excuse for a tablet.

Want to see for yourself? Keep reading for a full tour of the new PlayBook 2.0.

Here's the PlayBook's new home screen. In addition to the fancy new background, there's a dock at the top where you can store your favourite apps. Let's start with the new Messages app.

Welcome! Before you can get started, you have to set up your email account.

From the Account Setup screen you can add your email, Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn accounts. Let's start with email.

Enter your email address and password. The PlayBook will recognise the service and adjust your settings accordingly. We're going to use Gmail.

After you sign in, you have the option to sync your email, contacts, and calendar from Gmail. Let's sync them all.

Next, you can log in with your Facebook account. It'll even let you set reminders for your friends' birthdays.

We logged in with our Twitter and LinkedIn credentials too.

Now let's check out email. Here's the Messages app. It sucks in your emails plus messages from Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

You can see the Facebook messages on the left.

You can use messages to send notes to contacts over LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter. But it only seems to work if that person is already stored in your address book. We tried to send a direct Twitter message to @jyarow. No luck.

The contacts app pulls in your connections from social networks and email.

You can also manually add new contacts.

The calendar app is pretty simple and straightforward.

You can add events to Google or any other major service.

The new Print To Go app lets you send files from your computer to your PlayBook. Let's try it out!

Uh oh! It only works with Windows. Sorry Mac users.

Here's the new Docs To Go app. It lets you import and edit documents, spreadsheets, and presentations.

The BlackBerry App World store has a fancy new look.

But the app selection is still pretty crappy.

Um, really? This is a featured game in BlackBerry App World.

But we did find Pew Pew, one of our favourite Android games.

There's also a new video store that lets you download or rent movies on your PlayBook. The selection is pretty lame.

There are some decent TV shows though.

What about a tablet that can make calls?

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