PlayBook Roaming: Choosing Between Devices

PlayBook Roaming: Choosing Between Devices

So I’m on the road in Europe with a PlayBook, a Torch and a netbook. Which applications have proved the most compelling on each device? Our PlayBook Roaming series continues.

Choosing which device to use (or which devices to pack) is not unfamiliar territory for Lifehacker HQ. As well as extreme tactics such as No Luggage Week, we covered off the best ways to use laptops, phones and tablets as part of our recent Business Travel Week. So rather than repeating that advice, I’m going to look at what specifically I’ve been doing on this trip to Europe.

Some background detail: my BlackBerry SIM includes free email and data roaming worldwide, so I’ve been happy to use that when nothing else is available. That said, every airport and hotel I’ve visited has offered Wi-Fi, so I’ve tended to rely on that. This balance of uses also reflects my working life as a journalist: I’m sure other professions would have a different mix.

LAPTOP/NETBOOK: Because the core part of my job is writing words, using the laptop to do so remains the single biggest use of my time. I could do this on any of the devices, but there’s no doubt that the full-size keyboard makes it more pleasant and speedier than the smaller phone keyboard or the touchscreen option on the PlayBook. (The latter I find as good as any touchscreen I’ve used, but it’s still not the way I want to enter large amounts of data.)

BLACKBERRY TORCH: Mostly the obvious stuff: making calls and tracking emails. I tried to keep actual phoning at a minimum because of roaming charges, and stuck to texting instead. This is cheaper, and very straightforward given the BlackBerry’s superior keyboard. I also used the device fairly frequently for photography and image editing, and the BlackBerry Travel app continues to be super-useful.

PLAYBOOK: I’ve already mentioned that the PlayBook’s ability to sync via BlackBerry Bridge for viewing my calendar and email has been particularly handy for my endless schedule juggling.

The other task which I found myself using the PlayBook for a lot when in transit was keeping up-to-date with RSS. I have hundreds of RSS feeds I track for potential story ideas, and working through them during stopovers in Singapore, Heathrow and Oslo was much quicker on the PlayBook, since I wasn’t faced with long boot times. While there are apps that can do this, in practice I found the mobile version of Google Reader within the browser more effective.

Finally, there’s the entertainment possibilities. The PlayBook is really good for streaming video playback, which is great for when you want entertainment for the evening and don’t fancy anything that’s on offer on TV. It’s also a really good ebook reader, a point I’ll return to in tomorrow’s instalment.

Bonus PlayBook hint for the day: If you want to grab a screen capture on the PlayBook, hold down both volume buttons simultaneously.


  • I felt I should comment as I read the lack of comments as a sign of waning interest in BB.

    I’ve been a long time BB user, since the 7230. The PlayBook articles are never going to convince me that I should get a PlayBook.

    Right now I have a BB9700 and it will be my last BB ever. When work gives me the option to upgrade (we get to chose our phone) it will be either iOS or Android for me. Then a corresponding tablet.

    BB and RIM really missed an opportunity to convert their loyal fans into advocates. They should have offered a decent PlayBook discount via carriers and enterprise partners to encourage take up (and get real users raving about the device).

    With the PlayBook now at under $300, I fear it will be a Touchpad 2 – so not touching it now. So much promise and so much lost opportunity by RIM. Reach out to your genuine crackberry fans while you still have them (free games aren’t going to cut it).

  • This article is probable very useful to the 5 people that bought playbooks, but seriously guys, an article like this would be much more useful with an iPhone+iPad+Netbook or Android Phone+Tablet+Netbook.

    • Cheers for the comment. Goal this time was to discuss tablets as a whole. But I like the idea of doing something like this again with Android, too!. Thanks for the tip!

  • The whole point that I get out of this is saving money – the cost for data roaming is horrible and that’s being polite about it. I’m an avid blackberry user (typing this up on my 9900 now) and I’ve also got a playbook which I think has so much potential – when android first came out my initial thoughts were ok this isn’t bad but its 18mths too late and look at it now, tis a great os. Qnx will seriously change the ball game for bby since it runs so many things now anyway besides the playbook. An interesting article I feel

  • I have a Playbook and a Torch 9800, so this article is actually useful for me. Especially since i’ll be going on holiday in Europe next year.

    You’re lucky in that you’ve got the free email and roaming worldwide. I’ve been trying to look for BES enabled prepaid accounts on the net and can’t find any… I guess since most business people just have work pay the cost…

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