RIM's BlackBerry PlayBook tablet underwent an iFixit teardown that found solid construction and killer cameras, but nothing very exclamation point worthy.
Motion's long-awaited BlackBerry PlayBook tablet finally began shipping April
19. While some early reviewers were iffy on RIM's software decisions, it was
the tablet's hardware that interested repair site iFixit's teardown team, which
quickly went to work with their screwdrivers and spudgers.
The PlayBook-advertised by RIM as "the world's first professional-grade
tablet"-earned a repairability score of 7 out of 10 (10 being the best) in
a teardown that was complimentary but rather tame. There were no major
gripes-though no major "wow" moments, either.
opening the tablet-a happily easy feat, particularly in contrast to the iPad 2,
which required a heat gun for the task-the team was immediately surprised to
find that the guts of the PlayBook reside in its display assembly, instead of
its rear case, as apparently the majority of its competitors do things. While
interesting, it was ultimately a strike against the device's score.
choice was "unfortunate from a repairability standpoint, since simple
repairs-like replacing the battery-require the motherboard to be removed,"
Miroslav Djuric, iFixit's director of technical communication, wrote in a
drawback was that the control buttons and front and back cameras are all part
of a single assembly, "making replacing the power button or volume control
pretty costly." (Though one wonders how often these buttons are actually
sent in for repair.)
On a more
positive note, the team found the PlayBook's cameras to be "hefty."
"Its 3-megapixel front-facing camera crushes the iPad 2's VGA camera, and
the rear-facing camera has a 5 MP sensor which shoots 1080p video," wrote
perk: the small magnetic dock connector, for charging, on the bottom on the
PlayBook. The team called it "reminiscent of one of our favorite features
of Apple's laptops-the MagSafe connector."
around inside, the iFixit team also discovered that the PlayBook has a 20
watt-hour battery-a smaller battery than the iPad 2's, but given the PlayBook's
smaller screen, it may perform just as well. (That said, RIM advertises a
battery life of 8 to 10 hours, though testing by eWEEK found 6 to 7 hours to be more accurate
notable were the no less than eight chips from Texas Instruments on the
PlayBook's motherboard. Should the PlayBook sell as well as RIM is hoping, TI-which
recently made a $6.5 billion bid
to purchase competitor
National Semiconductor, a move that would make it the world's third-largest
semiconductor manufacturer-would also have quite a bit to gain.
betting heavily-and investing heavily-in the PlayBook. Announcing its fiscal
2011 fourth-quarter earnings March 24, RIM's guidance for the following quarter
sent its stock falling in late trading, as guidance was lower than expected,
due to the push RIM is giving the PlayBook.
investing in opening up a new category, bringing in a new platform. This is no
time for half measures," RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie told analysts during an
earnings conference call. "This is a time of enormous investment and
wouldn't offer guidance on its sales expectations, the device began selling in
approximately 20,000 retail outlets. ("They're not going to have like one
or two devices. So I think you can kind of see it's not going to be in the tens
of thousands," Adele Ebbs, RIM vice president of investor relations,
commented during the call.) According to one analyst, RIM shipped at least 45,000 units at launch,
which qualifies it as a success.
team seemed to feel the same.
machine is well-sorted internally," Djuric concluded, "and the
hardware RIM included is definitely nothing to scoff at."