BlackBerry PlayBook Review: Good Hardware Seeks Great Software
Display and Audio Quality, Camera Quality
Display and Audio Quality
The small 7” display on the PlayBook boasts a resolution of 1024x600, which is a fair bit less than what you’ll find on 10” tablets like the iPad 2 and Galaxy Tab 10.1 but on par with the 7” Samsung Galaxy Tab. Although a higher resolution might result in somewhat finer details, the quality of the display is not in the least bit compromised by resolution.
Like all tablets, a coat of gloss is painted across whatever you happen to be viewing. However, BlackBerry is the only company to so far take a major step in combating the problem, in this case by offering a backlight that is extraordinarily bright. This makes it possible to use the tablet outside on a sunny day, although I would not go so far to say the experience is enjoyable in direct sunlight. If you can find some shade, however, glare won’t be an issue.
Unfortunately, this calibration in favor of brightness has consequences for image quality. Test images revealed that the black level performance of this display is quite poor. Indeed, this problem was severe enough to be significantly visible in contrast test images, which obviously faded into shades of gray before they should. Because of this, there is a clear degradation of quality when viewing images or videos with dark colors –they tend to bleed into pools of featureless black, and much detail is lost.
Audio quality is also reasonable, but lacking in detail. The speakers, which are visually obvious thanks to the slits on either side of the tablet’s face, are loud enough to be used in an environment with a moderate amount of background noise. However, as they approach maximum volume there’s some distortion, resulting in loss of detail when listening to music and any video clip with audio content beyond voices. The experience is adequate, but nothing more.
Photography with tablets is often a problem due to their larger size, as it’s quite awkward to try and take a picture with something large, long and thin, supported on either side by wobbly human arms.
The small size of RIM’s tablet makes this a potentially better candidate for quick pictures, but unfortunately it’s hampered by an exceedingly poor 5 megapixel primary camera. It’s obvious from photographs that the sensor isn’t up to par. Significant noise is apparent in any image that’s not taken in an extremely bright room or outdoors mid-day. To make matters worse, there is no LED flash to compensate. Most indoor images are a muddy mess as a result, particularly after the sun has gone down and you’re forced to rely on artificial lighting.
Using the front-facing 3 megapixel camera didn’t provide better results, particularly where noise is concerned, but this is more acceptable considering the expected usage of that particular camera. If you’re simply looking to snap a quick pic or video chat, the front-facing quality will be fine so long as you’re in a room with decent lighting.
Video quality was acceptable, but suffered from a lack of sharpness which, again, is probably due to a lackluster sensor. Although capable of recording 1080p content, the actual quality of video recorded at that resolution certainly isn’t up to the standard of quality most users will associate with 1080p.