The Blackberry Playbook is due to be released on the 19th of April and the reviews are in.

Most tech writers such as David Pogue of the New York Times and Walt Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal have not been very favourable. They are comparing the device to the iPad/iPad2 and feel that it lacks core applications such as email, calendar and contacts functions. Of course, the lack of a wider market of applications in this day and age is seen in poor light.

RIM has promised regular software updates to make up for the latter issue. Thus, it does make it difficult to recommend as a must buy. Apple, still has the lead in providing a complete package upon release and has the lead on regular software updates.

However, the Playbook does bring certain unique features to the table such as good multitasking( WebOS style), HDMI mirroring without the need of an adapter, decent onboard front and rear cameras and a decent understated sophisticated design. The OS is unique in that it is designed by QNX, a company that was acquired by RIM. Thus, it is bringing an alternative UI to the mass market.

Dedicated Blackberry users will find this tablet most useful as it has a feature called Blackberry Bridge, which connects the Blackberry devices with the PlayBook in a secure manner. It is the Blackberry users who would most benefit from the PlayBook.

My two cents on the matter is this: It is early days in the tablet industry and I, like many other sensible tech observers, feel that there is no clear winner. The PlayBook is a solid device with a list of shortcomings which will take a few months to improve. RIM clearly has hit a good first base with this device and I look forward to the improvements to the existing Playbook and seeing what RIM has in store for the second Playbook.

Anandtech has provided an objective review of the Playbook and is worth reading.