My first computer was a Timex Sinclair ZX-81. Geeks, if you’re not already smiling, I’ll give you a moment to get Googling. Everyone else, let’s just say that this was before the Vic20 or the Commodore64, and if you don’t know what those words mean, let’s just say it was way before Facebook.
I tell you this because it entertains me, but more to the point, because on occasion I like to look back and think about how I came up with the real OT (original technology) and wax nostalgic for the elastic that held down the fire button on my Atari joystick, which was a real life hack, yo. It boggles the mind to think how far computing gizmos have come in my lifetime, as I type this on the virtual keyboard of my sexy li’l Blackberry Playbook.
I was writing this on the Playbook, but somewhere between Gmail Mobile and Gmail in all its desktop splendor, something went terribly awry. Allow me to explain: see, the Playbook (still) has no native email address, and the Gmail Mobile app doesn’t allow for attachments (the desktop version doesn’t convert well) so if I used WordToGo, which is pretty nifty, it would be impossible to get the thing off of my Playbook sans wire, and I’m trying to be stubborn about the wire to see what the thing can do really according to my whims and wants. Being that I’m still learning, endless thanks to crackberry.com for all things Playbook (and specifically for the hindsight information that apparently in html, Gmail will allow for attachments).
So WordToGo was out and I already knew that Google Docs wasn’t integrated yet either, so I did what I know and what would work in any other circumstance: I started an email draft. I have 127 such drafts in my box, some from before the launch of Google Docs, some just short silly things not worth the time it takes to create a doc.
It’s failsafe. The mobile version was playing along nicely, my biggest headache being the virtual keyboard and my vast rate of error with the silly thing. It was even showing auto-save updates, which as someone who seldom remembers to save, always comforts me. Since I hadn’t tried this particular stunt on the Gmail Mobile yet, I figured I’d be obsessive, and instead of simply saving the draft, I sent it to myself too.
Then it was gone. Gone from the drafts, gone from the sent, never even made it to the inbox, that poor unfufilled email never even got spell checked….and it needed to be; it was riddled with virtual typos.
Anyhoodle, Gmail’s never done me wrong like that before, so I’ll say that the Mobile App’s done me wrong, not my slick new Playbook or my reliable, well-loved Gmail account. I do however, wish someone would fix that please and thank you.
So here we are, revisions in place. Now onto the basics.
The most uttered comment when I break out my new toy, is “oooh, is that an/like an iPad?” which is a fair question. To be honest, though, I don’t want iAnything, which is a tale for another day, but it means that the iPad was never an option for me, so I don’t actually know that much about it. As a result, I’m considering my Playbook on its own merits and not comparitvely.
After I was done with my initial oohs and ahhs (which didn’t take long; I can be rather practical when it comes to tech toys), and figured out how to work the screen (this part took longer), my first goal was to transfer my tunes over. My regular MP3 player is a Zune. Hold your laughter; it’s all about the songs and the headphones, and please refer to the previous statement on iAnything.
Zune isn’t prepped to play on tablets, and that’s fundamentally Bill Gates’ problem, not RIM’s, Blackberry’s, or my Playbook’s. No worries; I specialize at improvising. Before they pass any tricky bills with too many letters, allow me to direct you to the YouTube MP3 converter (why didn’t anyone tell me sooner?!), in case you have vids that you wish were MP3s. My headphones are finally getting the workout the Zune couldn’t give them. Fair ‘nuff.
Under the category of Super Awesome, the thing-a-mabobber runs Flash. Technically, I don’t know what that is, but I do know that the internet is made of Flash…and Lolcats…and some of those Lolcats are made of Flash too. This means I have yet to encounter a video, picture or site I can’t view. In fact, I’ve taken to streaming CTV News as I cook dinner, which is pretty convenient. Though the speaker on the Playbook could be better and louder, the only time it’s really frustrating is when there’s external noise interference.
My only real complaint so far is the virtual keyboard. The inherent flaw with keyboards that aren’t really there is that they have both the reaction time and room for error that any cheap membrane keyboard would, just like the Timex Sinclair’s technology eons ago.
I’m not digging it. Sure, it’s functional, but to really take advantage of this doodad, I’ll definitely have to invest in a tangible li’l keyboard. Which is moot until the February 17th release of the Playbook OS 2.0, when I can send attachments.
I’ve already invested in both the hard and soft protectors, and I’m grateful I did. The hard case saved the day when my Playbook took a fall from an improbably high place. Even though I got the actual factual Blackberry brand protector though, when the case is on the headphone jack fits just wrong enough that I get mono instead of stereo. I’ll be fixing this, of course, but for now I’m doubly glad for the soft case: it’s staved off soy sauce and the countless stabby-jabby hazards of my purse.
The games are great (see: Flash). Steering by tilting probably won’t bore me for a bit. The camera has no flash, but it has the option to turn the screen side into the camera so it’s as good as taking a pic in a mirror (bye bye bathroom backdrop!). It surfs like a dream, and can have a whole whack of apps and browser windows open with no lag. It doesn’t take your average HDMI cable, if you’re into that sort of thing.
A final note: Playbooks can video chat to one another, which is super cool. They can’t use Gmail Video Chat (yet), and they can’t video chat with iPads. I read a frustrated forum tale of a starry eyed boy and girl who couldn’t get ‘er done, as realportal wouldn’t iPad, and Skype wouldn’t
Playbook, and none of the native programs would talk to each other (can’t we all just get along?).
All in all, I love my Playbook, now the details just have to be ironed out. The bright side is that it allows for an evolution of apps bound to suit tablet user’s real needs, not our presumed ones.