When Research in Motion first introduced its upcoming BlackBerry PlayBook, the tablet was tucked away behind glass, leading some conspiracy theorists to proclaim that the device didn’t actually exist (at least not yet). But now the company is starting to show off the device. This morning RIM posted a video comparing the web browsing experience on the PlayBook with the iPad. And this afternoon the folks at Engadget got a chance to spend a few seconds with a prototype.
While the video after the break is too short to give a detailed look at the tablet, here’s what Engadget did find out: It handles multitasking in a way that makes Apple, Google, HP/Palm and Microsoft mobile operating systems look sluggish and outdated.
At first glance, app switching on the PlayBook looks a lot like switching between apps on the Palm Pre running webOS. You have a series of thumbnails showing running apps, and you can flip back and forth between them to open the full app, or drag a thumbnail up to kill the app.
But here’s what’s different: the thumbnails show live previews. Like if you’re watching a video in one screen, you’ll see a live video playing in the thumbnail. That’s because the video can run in the background when you move to another app, and because the hardware and software are powerful enough to show you video previews. It’s kind of like moving from Windows XP to Windows 7 in that respect… but on a mobile device.
Of course, there are times when you want a video to stop playing when you switch to another app, and I hope there’s an option to enable that. But this kind of true multitasking could certainly come in handy for business users tuning into a web conference on the BlackBerry PlayBook. It sounds like you’ll be able to continue listening/watching while flipping away to another app to look up some data before returning the conference to full screen mode.
You can check out Engadget’s brief video after the break.