Tablets: RIM BlackBerry Playbook Kicks iPad Browsing-Butt

If you don't know by now, I'm a hardcore Apple fan, but that doesn't mean I don't think for myself. I said back in September 2010 that the BlackBerry Playbook looked like the first true tablet contender to Apple's iPad. Fast forward to the present and RIM has impressed me again with some updates. Part of that killer Playbook package includes Flash support, but what's more -- much faster rendering times for web pages. Here's the update.

Watch the video below, which seems to show Playbook doing everything faster, from pulling up the on-screen keyboard to loading web pages. It even shows marginally better performance on the Acid3 Browser Test:

Now, the intrepid video narrator doesn't exactly explain why the Playbook is doing a better job, and that's why I'm here. It's simple, really: hardware. The Playbook features a dual-core 1GHz CPU, while the iPad features a 1GHz A4 CPU -- no dual cores, just one. The math isn't that simple, but we can roughly say the Playbook is twice as fast. No surprises here. What the narrator also doesn't tell us -- but you can see quite clearly -- is that Flash on the playbook isn't so great. Look closer: Even though it loads up and is functional, you can clearly see the stuttering frame rate in the animations on screen.

Still, there's some things you need to take into consideration:

  1. Apps - even the coolest web browser on the street doesn't hold a candle to a killer app library and consumer demand. Right now, iPad is the winner.
  2. January 2010 is coming soon. Did you forget about iPad 2, RIM? Apple may not up-the-ante on hardware, but I find it hard to believe Apple is just going to release the iPad with the same exact hardware plus a FaceTime camera. By the time RIM gets Playbook out the door, Apple may have already usurped potential buyers with a new announcement.
All those things being said, it still stands that the Playbook is shaping up to be one of the most polished, true powerful contenders in the tablet arena. (That's my opinion, at least.)

It's foolish to think Apple isn't taking note. That doesn't mean Apple will actively compete against RIM Playbook, but they know it's there. I said said it a lot this time last year -- calling 2010 the year of the tablet, but it's really been the year of the iPad. Longer term, 2011 may turn out the real tablet wars we've been waiting to see.

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