On this fine April day we welcome the BlackBerry PlayBook to our office! Want to hear our initial thoughts about the out-of-box experience? Well, read on my friend…

Packaging
The black box seemed a little large for the size of the device, but we did appreciate the subtle black on black varnish on the BlackBerry logo and the blue interior of the box was a refreshing touch.

The device is presented to you right upfront with the manual and cords hidden away (of course no styrofoam makes us very happy). It was nice that the one-pager instruction sheet that was placed just underneath the device was designed to be the same size as the PlayBook, but it would have been really great if the safety manuals were also formatted in the same size for the sake of continuity. Also, I wonder whether the bellybands holding the sheets together were really necessary? The bonus with the overall packaging is that the PlayBook comes neatly wrapped up in its sleek neoprene sleeve at absolutely no additional cost!

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Set-Up
After quickly orienting ourselves around how to hold the device there was a little bit of difficulty in turning it on (the power button is just so tiny!) Though a little bit on the lengthy side, we did enjoy the BlackBerry themed startup animation — you just can’t go wrong with out-of-focus moving colours these days.

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We wondered why there was an infographic of the swipe interaction printed on to the throw-away protective screen — after all it is a touch-based tablet device, right? And isn’t swiping already a learned paradigm of the mobile/tablet space? I guess it was a good thing that the tutorial video didn’t have a ‘skip’ button, because that’s where we found our answer.

The infographic was specifically referring to BlackBerry’s new bezel gesture feature where you can swipe from the frame around the edge of the “live” screen towards the centre to reveal core interaction components, home menus, or even swipe into the next space or application. Way cool. Because of it’s smaller screen, at a first glance it looks like they’ve successfully figured out how to de-clutter and organize UI elements in a way that is easy to access and, most importantly, easy to remember after you’ve spent the initial couple minutes to learn how.

Other Thoughts
The heavy thub-thub-thub sounds of typing on the keyboard sounded a lot like a woodpecker — still trying to figure out how to turn that off. It should also be noted, that the email confirmation that we received after setting up our new BlackBerry account kinda fell flat. Set in Arial with black type on a white background, this welcoming email didn’t feel very welcoming. So there’s lots of opportunity for improvement there.

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But that’s not to say that a couple weeks with this puppy won’t turn things around! We’re excited to be spending some more time with the sleek, fast and responsive PlayBook to really learn the ins and outs of the device and experience RIM’s first venture into the tablet space!

Follow us on twitter @pivoting to hear updates on how we’re adapting to using the PlayBook and more.

 

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