Gifted a Blackberry Playbook – End of Life was April 2014

IMG-20150128-01625Sometimes hands-on reviews come AFTER a product has reached “end of life”.  I’d never gone out and bought one of these.  My first beef is that the 7″ screen is just too small.  As far as BB apps go however, there is more screen real estate to enjoy them.  But for the kind of thing I do on my computer, to port that over darn near requires glasses to make out the tiny text.  Take my zoho email for example.  I can use the mobile view if I wish, but because I can’t make the zoho mail web app keep certain settings to take me to certain screens right off the bat, it makes more sense to view the full-on web version, which is quite tiny on that screen.

I’m all for productivity, so no sooner had I gotten home with this unit, then I was looking for apps that would turn it into the kind of useful tool I might consider using inspite of its size.  Took me a bit, but I discovered a few things:

  1. The playbook OS is based roughly on Android.  It is quite possible now with sites such as apr2bak.org to take android apps, repackage them as bar files, and have working versions.  That possibility however, is only 50/50 as it is equally possible that due to certain android runtimes not being on the system, that apps won’t work either and crash when you try to run them.
  2. Someone over at Crackberry.com created a Chrome plugin called the Blackberry Playbook Manager, that lets you sideload bar files with incredible ease!  You have to put the playbook into developer mode to make it work, but that’s not hard to do either.
  3. If for some reason, your playbook version of blackberryworld has gotten itself encrypted without your knowledge, the only way to unlock it’s content security is to completely wipe the system and start over!  My playbook is stuck in general mode as a result, cutting me out of a number of attempted app tryouts because for some reason they were listed as teen, mature, or adult.  Very strange when the apps you are trying to test are printer apps???
  4. Speaking of printing, the only option to me without spending money on my testing, and partially because of point #3, is Google Cloud Print.  Strangely enough, Google Cloud Print treats print jobs as scan jobs instead, and prints a very faint greenish hued background in colour, or very faint grey background in monochrome.

Inspite of those issues and observations, and perhaps thanks to them, I was able to find a decent ereader that, in combination with Adobe Reader already on the system, lets me use my playbook as an ereading device.  Thanks to the 16gb storage space, I was also able to use my mapped network drive to the playbook’s file structure to copy over 1.66gb’s of music, thus ensuring I can listen to the digitized portion of my music collection while reading a book.

In addition, I was also able to discover just how amazing Kingston Office is on a mobile platform!  It’s a shame it doesn’t read odt files created by OpenOffice, but AndreOpen Office kept crashing on my playbook, so I couldn’t use that suite.  But the features available in Kingston Office make me wish I had a full-size bluetooth keyboard to put with this unit!

Rumour has it that the wide range of bluetooth devices that can be paired to this unit could easily make it’s usefulness carry forward for awhile yet.  Peripherals such as keyboards, miniature projectors, bluetooth-enabled printers, and more.

So I can surf the web on wifi or in bridge mode to my BB Torch 9860.  I can take pictures and video though I haven’t played with those features much yet.  The fact it has a front-facing camera will prove interesting!  I can listen to music while reading a book, write, work in the calculator or spreadsheet, watch videos on youtube, etc.  I should probably load a few games on there at some point, but the first app I installed was actually the youversion.com Bible app, and downloaded the KJV Bible while I was at it.

Yes, I have a new toy, and we’ll see how using it goes into the future.

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