Boy Genius Report’s Jonathan Geller managed to get some time with a BlackBerry PlayBook and recorded a 10 minute hands-on demo of the device.
From the video’s description on YouTube:
Check out our exclusive up close and personal demo of the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet with RIM’s Julian Dolce, Platform Lead of the QNX team.
It’s actually a great looking device with smooth scrolling and a slick interface. I love how they shamelessly stole webOS-style cards and swiping from the bottom bezel to “minimize” an application. But, swiping from the top bezel is a terrible idea.
Swiping from the bezel works in webOS because there are only a couple of commands. But, there are just too many on the PlayBook. How are users supposed to know that they exist? The example from the video was in the camera application where you can swipe down from the top bezel and a menu bar will appear that allows you to change the aspect ratio, go to the camera roll, or change to different scene modes. But there is no on-screen indication that this menu bar exists. There are APIs that will allow developers to add this menu bar to their applications but it isn’t required. So unless the developer decides to tell you that it exists, users will just be randomly swiping to figure out whether or not the command exists.
But, it’s not just the top and bottom bezel that’s touch-sensative, all of them are. And if RIM allows developers API access to all of them, developers will either have to use on-screen indicators telling users about these commands or simply hope that the user is willing to spend a few minutes with each application randomly swiping the bezel trying to find new features. I’m not too keen on touch-sensative bezels. If it’s not important enough for a dedicated button and doesn’t warrant a place in the on-screen user interface, then it probably doesn’t need to be there at all.