PlayBook Looking Good: Flash and Web Browsing Demonstrated

The PlayBook tablet from Research In Motion is starting to look like a polished, finished product ready to take on whatever CES 2011 throws its way from Android manufacturers and Apple’s iPad. However, the recent rumor that the PlayBook only gets a few hours of battery life has not died down despite RIM’s quick response claiming to the contrary. In fact, it got stronger this week.

The PlayBook Shown Off


I particularly like how well RIM has developed the browser. Full Facebook support? Sweet. I’m not into Facebook games by any stretch of the imagination but I’m sure that the same technology that allows the PlayBook to play Gem Swap II will let it crunch through hard to render, media heavy websites with ease.

The PlayBook SDK

Nerdy developer stuff but interesting nonetheless. Overall, the PlayBook platform looks like a viable one that is much easier to develop for than RIM’s BlackBerry smartphones. Besides, with its dual-core processor, high definition video abilities and hardware accelerated Flash support, just image what is possible.

The PlayBook’s Battery Woes

Shaw Wu, an analysts at Kaufman Bros. upset RIM last week when he wrote to investors that the PlayBook only got a “few hours” of battery life and compared that to the Galaxy Tab’s 6 hours and the iPad’s 10 hours. RIM responded the next day by saying that any PlayBooks in the hands of people outside of the company did not yet have power saving features implemented and that it is “on track with its schedule to optimize the BlackBerry PlayBook’s battery life and looks forward to providing customers with a professional grade tablet that offers superior performance with comparable battery life.” You would think that would be the end of it. Not so.

“We would be very surprised if PlayBook matches anywhere near the battery life of the iPad at 10 hours unless it uses a larger battery,” Wu wrote this week. This echoes his previous statement that it will take “significant re-engineering” to even meet the Galaxy Tab’s battery life at 6 hours. The PlayBook has a hefty battery inside that is larger than the Tab’s. Why the problems?

Don’t put all the blame on the PlayBook’s dual-core processor or even the new operating system that RIM’s recently acquired QNX division is developing for it.

“From our understanding, the poor battery life of early PlayBook units may be due to its incorporation of Adobe Flash. As seen in recent tests for the new MacBook Air, use of Flash can cut battery life in half. It should be no surprise to anyone that our checks indicate Adobe is furiously working on reducing Flash’s consumption of resources to make it a viable mobile platform vs. HTML5 that both Apple and Google are moving toward,” Wu wrote.

Is everything really Adobe’s fault? Apple seems to think so and now even investment analysts do. Harsh. Food for thought though.

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