The new PlayBook may not be the hottest selling tablet out there and may not be breaking much in the way of new ground but, for the committed BlackBerry users, it allows them to keep pace with a fast-moving industry. Much of the interface is familiar and anyone who has used a touch-screen device will recognise many of the standard features: swipe to scroll, pinch to zoom and so on. But there's more. There are several tricks that aren't common to other devices that will allow PlayBook users to have a small smile on their face as they whizz around their device.
The first trick is swiping from the frame onto the screen. Swipe from the bottom edge of the frame upwards onto the screen will minimise all apps and show you the Home screen. Swipe downwards from the top of the frame onto the screen will give you a context menu for the current app. Left and right swipes will allow you to flick between apps without having to return to the Home screen. Finally, swipe from the top-left or top-right corner diagonally onto the screen and you can quickly view the status bar to check email notifications, change system options, etc. without having to leave your current app.
When you are on the Home screen you can close minimised apps simply by touching the app and swiping upwards.
Want to see the on-screen keyboard? Tapping into a text field will automatically bring it up but you can also show it by swiping diagonally onto the screen from the bottom left corner of the frame. There will always be a Hide Keyboard icon in the bottom left corner of the screen to let you hide it again. Tap the Shift key to produce a capital in a text field, press and hold it to turn on Caps Lock. Tap Shift again to turn Caps back off.
Remember the context menu trick? Swipe down from the top edge of the frame onto the screen? You can do this while viewing a photo and it will give you the option to set the photo as your wallpaper. Whilst using the camera, use the context menu trick to see different camera modes.
Finally, the BlackBerry bridge. The key to the current PlayBook is to pair it with a BlackBerry handset. Find the BlackBerry Bridge application in the App World and install it on your BlackBerry. On the Home Screen of the PlayBook, press the cog icon on the Status Bar and select BlackBerry Bridge. Choose Setup and Continue then Add Device and Next. The PlayBook will show a barcode on the screen. Start the Bridge application on your BlackBerry and capture an image of the barcode. The BlackBerry and PlayBook will automatically connect and pair. Now you can use the data connection on your BlackBerry to power the Browser on your PlayBook and you can view those Flash-enabled websites in WSVGA.
It may not be a game-changing hardware platform but it will give a great sense of satisfaction to regular BlackBerry users.