I haven't had any hands-on time with the PlayBook, but I have read many of the recent reviews. Many of them landed late April 13th, and I was surprised to see a narrative developing the next morning that the reviews were largely negative and RIM's stock was dropping accordingly. That isn't what I understood the reviews to be saying.
The reviews mostly agree on:
1. The hardware is wonderful, although the power button is a problem.
2. The software has a great core similar to webOS, but it appears rushed. Aside from the unique ability to connect to a BlackBerry over bluetooth, it is missing many essential applications. This is a glaring mistake, but also one that we have known about for a long time.
3. There is a lack of apps.
4. It will get better with future software updates and the addition of Android-app capability. But for now, nobody recommends it unless you are a BlackBerry user and want to connect the two.
I don't see these by any means reflecting "poor" reviews full of "jeers" as many of the larger websites are reporting. Instead, they reflect that this is a 1.0 version of a product. Android wasn't this polished when it first launched. Does the PlayBook currently compete with the iPad? No. Will it? Maybe. The tablet wars are just beginning.
These reviews together bring up the same question for RIM: What is this tablet? RIM is trying to do too many things. On the one hand it is for BlackBerry users, on the other it someday will have the capabilities to be a great tablet for all. On the one hand it had its own SDK and app environment, on the other hand it will be able to run Android apps. I do not know if consumers will like this fence-sitting. But then again, if they can pull it all off, and quickly, maybe having the best of all worlds is really what consumers want.
UPDATE: See Gina's great article on the playbook that incorporates a few of my ideas.
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