If you’re shopping for a BlackBerry PlayBook, the new version has more features relevant to advisors.

Before its recent update, two key problems meant the Playbook wasn’t as popular as its fully developed competitor, the iPad 2: there was no stand-alone e-mail app, and it had few apps compared to Apple and Android. What’s more, existing BlackBerry phone apps could not be used on the Playbook.

The release of the new operating system in February 2012 corrected these two problems, and offered some good updates.

What’s new

  • An independent message app allows you to see your e-mail, Twitter feed, Facebook account, and other social-networking applications in a single stream. you can sort, compose, link and reply to messages using this app.
  • The Playbook now offers full rich-text editing and a better designed on-screen keyboard that includes shortcuts and predictive words.
  • There’s a contacts manager that can be synced with your phone or computer. It combines Facebook and e-mail contacts in a single database. Further, it’s possible for you to see an e-mail contact and his Facebook information in a single entry. The app indicates if your contacts are online; if they have a Playbook, it will show if they are free for video or voice chat.
  • The tablet now features a calendar that also syncs with several accounts. Additional features include being able to mark busy days a darker colour so you can scan a week or month for when you’ll be most occupied.
  • The desktop allows you to bundle icons together into nameable folders.
  • There are new, more extensive apps via the blackberry App World market.
  • In a move that will increase the number of apps available to users, RIM has begun integrating Android apps into its app market.
  • RIM has updated the bridge software that links a blackberry phone with the Playbook. It now allows you to control the Playbook remotely with both mouse and text entry. This means you can use the Playbook to present a PowerPoint presentation if you connect it to a TV or projector.

Despite this great leap forward, there is still room for improvement.


  1. The calendar and contacts do not sync directly from your laptop or blackberry phone. To work around this, I’ve always used Google Sync to keep my laptop synced with my blackberry, tablets, Android and office computer.

    Specifically, I use Companion Link Express to sync Outlook, ACT! Goldmine, and other programs to Google Calendar and Contacts. If you have an Android phone, you have a synced Google e-mail account.

    For iPhone, blackberry, Windows phones, you can download the appropriate Google Sync software from the Google website. Then, set up a Gmail account and instruct the Google Sync software to upload and continually sync contacts and calendars between your phone and the Playbook.

  2. blackberry Messenger still requires the bridge app from phone to Playbook in order to work.
  3. There is still no 3G version, so all Playbooks run off either wi-fi or bridging (tethering) to a smartphone.

Given these changes, I can now recommend the Playbook, which has a more intuitive operating system, over the iPad. As the Playbook rises in popularity, more developers will create apps for this device. It’s also half the price of the iPad, making it a financially sound decision.