BlackBerry PlayBook 4G LTE 32GB Review and WiFi PlayBook Comparison

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RIM has released the latest version of the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet and this latest piece of hardware comes with a radio that supports LTE and HSPA+ networks. Other than the radio connectivity, there’s really not much separating this PlayBook from its predecessor. Therefore, the best way to approach this review is a discussion around the decisions to make a radio-enabled PlayBook, as well as some of the advantages and use-cases around why you may want a 4G LTE PlayBook.

PlayBook 4G LTE

So let’s break down the key features of this latest PlayBook version:

  • 1.5 GHz Dual Core Processor (faster than its predecessor)
  • 4G LTE Connectivity (LTE and HSPA+)
  • Bluetooth version 3.1

Other than that, this is the same PlayBook as was previously launched.

PlayBook 4G LTE Homescreen

Who exactly is the customer base for a 4G LTE PlayBook?

1. Those that don’t have Hotspot access.
2. Anyone that has a long commute and feels Hotspot is too battery draining.
3. Hardcore BlackBerry supporters that want the latest even if there’s not too much new.
4. Someone who uses a lot of data and whose carrier charges a lot for tablet data.

There doesn’t seem to be all that much going for the new PlayBook relative to its predecessor, and considering the price, it’s hard to recommend this version over the non-radio connected version.

If you’re into large data and fast data speeds, Telus’ LTE network is really solid inside the city limits. The major downside to LTE is obviously the coverage isn’t great, especially anywhere rural.

PlayBook 4G LTE Speeds on Telus Network

PlayBook 4G LTE Speed Test
27.46 Mbps Download, 5.70 Mbps Upload.

Is all this worth the price?

The BlackBerry PlayBook 4 is available through Bell and Rogers for $350 with a three-year contract and on Telus without a contract for $550. Telus allows you to share your data plan with your smartphone and Bell charges an additional $20 per month. Rogers charges $22 per month for its tablet data plans.

Advantages

1. Great data speeds and more storage.
2. No additional cost on Telus.
3. Faster Bluetooth connectivity with version 3.1.

Disadvantages

1. Extra data plan costs with Bell and Rogers.

Why did RIM release this?

The first reason that comes to mind is: every other tablet has a radio version so the PlayBook should have one too. It seems a little like “keeping up with the Joneses”, except RIM had a house that was way better and different than the Joneses. The additional costs if you’re on Rogers or Bell doesn’t seem worth it considering BlackBerry’s Mobile Hotspot and Bridge options make the device really portable. Maybe the end goal of the PlayBook launch was really to show shareholders that progress is being made while everyone waits patiently for the upcoming BlackBerry 10 smartphones.

Click here to read our review of the WiFi-enabled PlayBook by Matt Cameron.

  • Russ

    Don’t forget to mention NFC Hardware capabilities in your next review.

  • http://about.me/kylemcinnes Kyle McInnes

    I was going to mention it but there’s no NFC in this version. Also, RIM gave me a Reviewers Guide and there was no mention of NFC in that either.

  • Steve

    The current Playbook is a very solid device. Here Office Max has the 16GB WiFi version for $169, 64 GB $239. Its a far better choice than many of the alternatives. I really enjoy using mine and look forward to the updated Playbook when available in the US. And yes, I really would like Netflix on it, with the miniHDMI out an awesome feature would it be.