Apple and Research in Motion (RIM) have already been facing off on the mobile stage, with the former arriving late to the game and forcing the latter to play catch-up. However, the roles are somewhat reversed now that Apple is the established king of the tablet computer market with the iPad 2 and RIM is the pretender to the throne, launching its BlackBerry Playbook tablet as a worthy competitor. If you are wondering which you should pick, read on to see how the battle of the tablet PCs plays out in 2011.
The iPad 2 is aesthetically impressive, as is the hallmark of each new Apple device. It is 33 per cent thinner and 90 grams lighter than the original, making it one of the slimmest tablets on the market and enhancing its ability to be held for long periods. Tablet computer models need to be portable and few can claim the iPad 2 fails in this category.
The BlackBerry Playbook is smaller than its rival, sporting a seven inch touch display as opposed to the 9.7 inch screen on Apple's tablet computer. It is therefore close to 200 grams lighter and a little more portable, although the iPad 2 is a couple of millimetres thinner, which can make all the difference.
The processing power behind the two tablet PCs is actually closely matched. Both have dual core CPUs and both are thought to be running at a 1GHz clock speed. The BlackBerry Playbook has 1GB of RAM which compares favourably to the 512MB on the iPad sequel, while the dual camera setup is again a victory for RIM, as it has a five megapixel snapper on the rear and a three megapixel unit on the front which can outclass the Apple device in terms of quality.
The one area in which the Apple device is definitely ahead of the game is connectivity. The Playbook is essentially a Wi-Fi only device which can be tethered to a BlackBerry smartphone to harness a 3G network connection when you are out and about. No such restrictions are placed on the 3G iterations of the Apple's tablet computer and although you will pay more for getting this kind of connectivity it is good to see it as an option.
Whether or not you choose the iPad 2 or BlackBerry Playbook based on the software will be more subjective than just picking between them as a result of their hardware specs. Apple has updated its tablet PCs and smartphones with the iOS 4.3 platform, which is little changed from the first generation. You do have access to over 65,000 iPad-specific apps from the App Store, which the Playbook will not be able to match in the short term. On the other hand, RIM's device comes complete with a brand new operating system which has shown itself to be highly capable when it comes to multitasking. Keeping different programs and services running simultaneously will be a doddle on the Playbook, but those who opt for Apple will be less impressed.
If you want a tablet computer which has endless software support, serious wow factor and a history of keeping millions of customers happy, then the iPad is the one to go for. If you want a tablet which is new, fresh and highly capable when it comes to burning through multiple processes in a more portable form, then the BlackBerry Playbook is the one to choose. Whatever your decision, you will not feel disappointed.