Take two, twice a day

I’ve now had a BlackBerry Playbook for a little over four weeks, and it’s been an interesting ride. This is my first tablet and, to be honest, I wasn’t sure how much I’d use it. Like many geeks and their toys it was the getting that motivated me, not necessarily the having. Selfish, I know.

OK, so what have I used it for? Instant access to GMail and Twitter has enabled me to be more wired than before, although I’m not sure I (or my wife) would consider that a good thing. I’ve also been able to check the weather easily, and with the snow we’ve had recently that is definitely a good thing.

It’s kept my young son entertained, a big scratch on the screen is proof of that. My wife and I have also had our very own Book At Bedtime as we listened to a downloaded audiobook. And, of course, I’ve been able to test and research responsive websites. All in all I love it.

There are downsides. Battery life isn’t amazing, and the keyboard is difficult to use for anything more than a few sentences, especially as accessing special characters requires flipping to a different keyboard view. This slows me down as I’m a stickler for correct spelling and punctuation; l33t-speak gr8s on me. I’ve also found no decent development apps, but that’s not surprising and certainly isn’t a deal-breaker.

The real power of tablets is instant access to a decent sized screen, almost zero start-up times and very quick loading for apps. That means the technology gets out of the way and you get to the content you want quicker. Interestingly a friend said this week that he’s using his iPad less since he upgraded his PC with a solid state drive, and boot-up takes 4 seconds. Laptops aren’t as handy as tablets, but they do benefit from a proper keyboard and bigger screen. I guess that’s the niche netbooks are trying to fill.

Using a touch-screen device a lot has also given me a greater appreciation for how apps need to be written to cope with touch inputs. It’s also shown me that a whole new breed of apps is possible, and challeged me to think about how to respond to this new world in my own software development.

So, it’s been an interesting experience. I doubt I’ll ever do without a tablet again, at least until the next device revolution comes along.

P.S. This post was written partly in the car, partly in a cafe, on my Playbook. Who knows, I might even start blogging more often.