Portable and Powerful
I’ve been using a PlayBook as a useful tool since late March 2012. As a cost effective tablet computer it has proved to be outstanding value.
My PlayBook fits very snugly in the inside pocket of my fleece and seems to be a very robust piece of equipment. It’s had a lot more use than any larger format (and much more expensive) device would have been given. This could make it a much more practical tool in the hands of smaller pupils.
A number of primary school teachers have seen it in use in their schools. It has (in most cases) been easy to link to wireless networks and via proxy servers to the internet. The ability to quickly and easily show videos live from the PlayBook on class whiteboards has surprised many teachers. Sharing files to and from the PlayBook has been fast, secure and straightforward.
All this from a device which can cost far less than a replacement set of inks for a colour laser printer.
The video and sound recording facility on the PlayBook is astounding. This short video was put together in Camtasia using recordings made on my PlayBook. The recordings have only been trimmed and captions have been added in Camtasia. These are technically very difficult videos and the PlayBook has handled them very well.
Initial pros and cons
It is so simple to create .doc and .xls files and then make them quickly available to PCs and networks.
Acrobat files of all sizes can be quickly accessed.
The Kindle app allows books to be uploaded through the school proxy – not always possible with a Kindle.
Audio, video and picture recording are exceptional and the screen is stunning.
Linking the screen to a HDMI compatible TV requires an adaptor and cable but is very easy. Could this be an alternative to a whiteboard?
Yes – it plays flash very smoothly.
The web browser seems to be very fast and the network connection options are very flexible. Wireless connections can be retained and edited; proxy settings are part of the connection rather than being tied to the browser.
Android marketplace apps are being made available – the Dolphin browser and the Kindle app are very powerful
Limited number of apps in the BlackBerry marketplace. Some of the apps are extremely good. Pete Richardson has drawn up his favourite list here
Android apps don’t multi task and don’t warn you when you switch.
The proxy server facility doesn’t have a ‘bypass proxy’ option so may cause some problems when internal web servers are used in schools.
The PlayBook can only be charged up from the mains – the USB cable does not provide power from a laptop.
The native file manager is a bit too basic (the free ‘Air Browser’ app does a very good job though).
It doesn’t provide support for all ‘web tools’ – Java, Silverlight etc. so some websites and web based resources won’t work.
For costing information click here
Have these observations helped you? What would you add to these lists?