RIM took a brave step into the tablet scene with the Blackberry Playbook. It is a 7” tablet that is coated with a matte black finish. Some might frown at its size, but portability and power is the Playbook’s game. It features an operating system built by RIM from scratch, but is powerful and may be a worthy contender against the iOS and Google Android. It has a 5-megapixel back facing camera which is able to record 1080p HD video and a 3-megapixel front facing camera for video chat, it also has an ambient light sensor for automatic brightness adjustment. The bezel on the Playbook is just 0.7” and it gladly doesn’t overextend itself to shrink the screen even further.

What is stunning about the Playbook is its powerful web browser. RIM did a good job of enabling the Playbook’s browser to support full Adobe Flash, meaning you can play flash videos, flash games, and to some people’s frustration, it enables flash ads as well. RIM spearheads its intent on charging the tablet market with the Playbook’s shiny new (albeit functional and actually superior) operating system coupled with its awesome new browser.

One shortcoming it possesses is its diminutive size. It shamelessly cramps the experience of using a tablet. It is disappointing, considering the great move RIM took in making a new operating system with a powerful browser because the size definitely hinders some of the Playbook’s true assets.  Typing on the on-screen keyboard is a hassle because of the tablet’s size, and full-page web browsing feels very confined because of it as well. Full flash support is partially held back, and the Playbook requires attachment to a Blackberry phone to fully access the best features it offers, which is a real shame.

Hindered functionality is coupled with the bad design of the Playbook. The power button is regrettably located at the top of the unit and is as small as a baby’s fingertip. Powering the device on is made very bothersome; what’s more is that you need to press the power button to wake the device from sleep mode. Pointless multimedia buttons were added into the mix as if it wasn’t enough. No one really knows why RIM decided to put a dedicated Play/Pause button on a tablet.

The price is nothing to write home about, either. It costs $499 and like the iPad, you have to pay a $100 more for every 16GB of extra memory. Overall, the Playbook might only be a must-have for the dedicated Blackberry junkie, and for $499 for a 7” tablet, some might be better off buying a 10.1” tablet for the same price.