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BlackBerry PlayBook review

RIM is taking on the tablet market with its enterprise-focused PlayBook, but just how could it transform your business? We take a look in our extensive review.

BlackBerry Bridge

Since the PlayBook doesn't have its own 3G connection, you'll need to tether it to a BlackBerry phone - and only a BlackBerry phone - via Bluetooth. This allows you to use the BlackBerry smartphone's 3G data connection to get the PlayBook online when Wi-Fi isn't available - as long as the tariff supports tethering. An IT department can also easily manage this through existing BES controls.

Bridge

Bridging your devices is simple. Download the Bridge application to your BlackBerry smartphone and scan the QR code presented to you on the PlayBook. The devices will automatically detect one another and connect, then you're ready to go.

Once the devices are paired, you can access your email from the Bridge applications menu. The inbox mirrors that of your connected BlackBerry. When you send an email on your PlayBook, it will appear on your BlackBerry and vice versa.

When the connection between the two is broken, it's signified by a lock symbol on the Bridge app icons. Without a BlackBerry connected via Bluetooth, you won't be able to check Exchange emails, communicate on BlackBerry Messenger, access your work calendar or read/write sensitive documents. CRM applications that rely on server access will also be out of bounds.

Bridge 2

Bridge makes the PlayBook a very secure tablet for businesses. It also allows businesses to roll out the Playbook instantly to employees no set up with BES or BES X is required as long as employees are using a BlackBerry smartphone.

However, this also means that if your company does not use BlackBerrys to connect to Exchange, the PlayBook cannot be used to access company email, calendars, applications or BlackBerry Messenger. The PlayBook's browser can also be used for accessing web-based email accounts, but this will not be secure as with Bridge.

Email

RIM has said new applications to access email, calendars and Exchange apps without using BlackBerry Bridge will be introduced in a free update in the future, but it is thought these will only work on the as yet unreleased 3G or 4G version of the tablet.

We struggled to get some apps to work smoothly when using a BlackBerry as a 3G data connection, but it's enough to get data-light apps working.

This newer version will revert to the more traditional way of connecting to Exchange with BlackBerry either with BlackBerry Enterprise Server or BlackBerry Internet Service. Both options introduce extra costs for businesses though licences will be required for additional devices in addition to increased hardware outlay.

We struggled to get some apps to work smoothly when using a BlackBerry as a 3G data connection, but it's enough to get data-light apps working.

Unfortunately these struggles included App World, which wouldn't connect at all during our testing period and we had issues trying to get videos to stream on YouTube too. However, both are suited more to those looking for entertainment rather than to work on the move and may not be permitted in a company environment anyway.

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