I didn't expect much out of the Playbook. RIM has been behind the curve for so long now that the idea of them releasing a tablet as desirable as the iPad or Xoom seemed almost ridiculous. If they can't make a decent modern smartphone, how can they make a great tablet?
I'm still not sure what the answer to that question is, but I think the Playbook might just end up being a great tablet. I spent about twenty minutes playing with one yesterday, and walked away six different shades of impressed. But first off: the body.
This is actually my least favorite part of the Playbook. I still think 7" is a hair too small for a productivity tablet. The smooth back and sides mean that the Playbook won't grip as well as say, the the Adam or Toshiba's tablet.
Alright- we've covered cosmetics. Now we can get into the UI itself. The Playbook's system of gesture-based controls make it the most pleasant tablet I've ever interacted with. The Adam is a little faster (judging by how both handle 1080p playback) but the PlayBook is just so damn intuitive.
That's a word we throw around a lot in this industry, so I'll try to elaborate a bit more. It took a little over a minute, total, for me to have navigation on this thing down -pat-. Swipe sideways from bezel to bezel to switch apps. Swiping up pulls you out of an app. Multitasking didn't cause any appreciable lag, and I was able to move between a browser, PDF reader and full HD video with no trouble. The video was playing every time I switched back to it, too.
So there you have it. The PlayBook is a wonderfully pleasant slate to use. I still think it is too small, and the body is nothing to write home about, but RIM has finally figured out how to make a modern touchscreen OS.
Now, if they could only get their smartphone act together...