RIM BlackBerry PlayBook: Unfinished, unusable

The BlackBerry-tethered tablet can't do very much, and its tethering requirement means few users can actually use it

By , InfoWorld |  Mobile & Wireless, BlackBerry PlayBook, RIM

RIM provides desktop management software for the PlayBook for backup and file transfer (such as to import a music library), but that software does not see the PlayBook on either a Mac or Windows PC. The PlayBook does see the Mac or PC when connected, ironically, but can't do anything with it. RIM says PlayBook-compatible Mac desktop software will ship "this summer." The current Windows desktop software is supposed to work, but it didn't on my two XP PCs; the problem was the lack of a PlayBook driver, which didn't come with the PlayBook, wasn't available at RIM's website, and wasn't available to Windows Update. So I couldn't sync. Until RIM fixes these omissions, home users will be essentially locked out of using their music, videos, and other media files -- obviating the "play" in PlayBook.

Security is sometimes there, but not always enforceable If you're tethered to a BlackBerry, you can rest assured that your communications are secured. But if you don't use BlackBerry tethering, then you have no security, as you must use standard IMAP and POP connections to your email.

The PlayBook is unsecured by default. Although the BlackBerry desktop software doesn't work with the PlayBook, my Mac was able to mount its internal storage over a USB connection and access its files. Fortunately, you can turn off USB and Wi-Fi file sharing separately, as well as set up a device password that must be entered to share files, as on an iPad or a Xoom.

You cannot use BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) to force the use of passwords on the PlayBook, or to enforce rules such as password complexity or expiration, as you can for BlackBerry devices. By itself, the PlayBook has rudimentary security controls and no facility -- BES or otherwise -- for IT to enforce security policies.

Also, there's no on-device encryption, which could be an issue for stored data. Corporate email, calendars, and contacts are of course not on the PlayBook itself, so they are de facto secured by being unavailable if someone steals or finds your PlayBook. Everything else, however, could be accessible.

By contrast, an iPad or Xoom can be secured directly via an Exchange server or mobile management tool; an iPad can also be secured through the use of configuration files installed directly by IT. RIM has very much dropped the security ball when it comes to the PlayBook.


Originally published on InfoWorld |  Click here to read the original story.
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