After several months of anticipation Research In Motion's debut tablet, the BlackBerry PlayBook, is almost here. The company began seeding the device to the press in anticipation to next week's launch and now the first reviews are starting to trickle in. For the most part it seems reviewers came out pleased with the PlayBook's look and feel, and agree that the QNX-based operating system – which borrows heavily from Apple's iOS and HP's webOS – works smoother than anything RIM has produced recently. But as expected the bad news is that, at launch, there's still a lot missing.
Among the strong points mentioned are its responsive performance, great multitasking, sharp, beautiful screen, smooth 1080p playback over HDMI and solid battery life. Adobe Flash support was spotty but apparently RIM kept pushing out updates to improve its stability, which is both encouraging and worrying, as they are working on ironing out all the kinks but it's also clear they are rushing out some last minute tweaks to be able to launch this thing.
That's not really surprising as we recently learned that the BlackBerry PlayBook would launch without several key features: no native email client, calendar, address book or instant messaging unless tethered to a BlackBerry smartphone, which at least is free but people with other smartphones are out of luck. There are also no Android apps yet, there's a front-face camera but no video chat app, no universal search, and a few software bugs to take care of.
Overall, reviewers seem impressed with what RIM has accomplished so far and feel optimist or at least curious about the PlayBook's future. But until many of the things on RIM's "coming soon" list arrive none of them seem too comfortable recommending anyone to buy it right now. That seems like a fair appraisal unless you are already a dedicated BlackBerry owner willing to live with the tablet's shortcoming for a few months.