03-28-2011 06:47 PM
I just returned from a live demo where I got to have an actual Playbook in my hands for several minutes. The demo was given in the offices of a large RIM client, given by a RIM rep accompanied by 2 reps from one of the large Canadian service suppliers. The demo did not require an NDA, as RIM are at this point giving somewhat open demos to interested parties (especially large corporate clients).
Being a developer of an upcoming Playbook app, I was very interested in having hands-on experience with the hardware for the first time. This was a pre-production model, but looked to be fairly complete. There was a notification message on-screen that an update was available to be downloaded and installed (something similar to version 1.0.1..something, if I remember correctly).
For most of the demo, the unit was plugged into a 24" widescreen computer monitor via HDMI so that several people in the small room could see. The display was fantastic. The RIM rep played an HD video that was stored on the Playbook, and the picture quality on the 24" screen was excellent. The rep then minimized the media player, and demonstrated that you could go on to do other things while the media player continues (though obviously you couldn't actually watch the video when other apps had the screen, though you could still hear the soundtrack).
A demo of an EA game, an action car-chase game, was very impressive. The rep held the Playbook much like a steering wheel and you could see how the accelerometer was being used by the game to drive the car. Very nice.
I played the EA Tetris game for a couple of moments. This game forces itself into portrait mode, which is the best view for that game. With the HDMI connection, the Playbook was essentially locked into landscape mode (there was a lock icon on the screen showing that). You could rotate the Playbook to play the game in portrait as you would expect on the handheld unit, but the HDMI screen stays in landscape mode (which is about what you'd expect, since you aren't going to be tossing a large screen monitor about in the same way as a handheld).
When in portrait mode, the "minimize" bezel swipe followed the orientation of the Playbook. So yes, you do swipe up from whichever side is "bottom" at the time. I know that some here have been wondering about that.
I disconnected the HDMI to be able to judge the overall feel of the Playbook with orientation changes, gestures, etc. It was very responsive. Many of us have struggled with the simulator not being quite up to date yet with orientation events, scaling, and the other oddities. I'm very happy to see that, just as we would expect, the real hardware performs very well, even in this pre-production state.
I would love to have been able to load an app of my own onto this Playbook and verify the orientation, gestures, and so on with my own code...but that will have to wait for another day. Probably the same day that everyone reading this is waiting for.
03-28-2011 07:07 PM
@KenSalmon: very cool experience! im sure it renewed a lot of people's faith and made some of us more anxious ot get it haha
@macwarrior: i'd be surprised if Google doesnt make a map app for this device
03-28-2011 07:10 PM
Well, yeah, I'm definitely hoping for the whole Google suite. But given that it doesn't have a 3G connection, I want something that can work offline, too. Blackberry Maps, for instance, apparently needs a constant data connection.
There are tons of Android applications that let you download vector data from the OpenStreetMaps database and such to freely navigate offline, so I hope that something like that is available or shows up.
03-28-2011 07:12 PM
Yes I did see an icon for a mapping application. There were lots of icons on this particular device, it was quite a treat to not have to look at that same old wallpaper from the simulator and the one browser icon
I didn't ask the rep specifically which apps were pre-installed (ie come with it). vs what had been added on. I'm sure some of what I saw was add-on...for example the EA chase game, which is a commercial quality game, is not likely to be a pre-installed freebie.
So really the answer is, I don't know
03-28-2011 07:15 PM
@macwarrior: i think the fact that it has a GPS chip in the device, you should be able to have google maps or an equivalent app work with it as long as you download the maps prior to using it. from what i learned (a lot of chats in IRC lol) GPS is usable by anyone - its just the features and how they do things that make it competitive.
@KenSalmon: you should be happy to know that both EA games (Need for Speed and tetris) will be included on the device for FREE according to the reports
03-28-2011 07:32 PM
@KenSalmon: here is a link to a crackberry blog entry:
03-28-2011 07:40 PM - edited 03-28-2011 07:43 PM
@Jrab -- yeah, the "loading the maps" is the problem Until the most recent version of Google Maps, you needed a constantly-on data connection because there was no way to have a local copy of the maps installed. Now it'll cache the area around where you're traveling so that you can use it offline for a while, but if you go outside of the cached area you're out of luck and there's no real way to say "download the state of Oregon" or whatever beforehand. You also need a data connection to do any kind of navigation, but that's not as critical as just having a map show up.
Blackberry maps also claims to require a data connection but I don't know the details of how it works.
I don't doubt that someone will eventually make an app for offline navigation if none exists -- that's why there are a dozen or more for Android -- but it'd be nice to have a high-quality application to do it preinstalled.
Also, @ that crackberry post -- what's the reasoning, do you think, for them to install a "lite" version of Need for Speed and then download the full version when Wifi is available? Surely it would be easier and faster to just install the full application at the factory? I suppose that the game could just not be finished yet, but it smacks of some demo version shovelware that bugs you about buying it all the time.
03-28-2011 07:42 PM