Clearing up the PlayBook Confusion: BlackBerry Bridge vs. Internet Tethering

By Kevin Michaluk on 4 Apr 2011 12:18 pm EDT
Internet Tethering vs. BlackBerry Bridge

As I read through forum threads and check out blog post comments both here on CrackBerry and on other websites, I am noticing there is still a lot of confusion surrounding a few specific aspects of RIM's first tablet. Hopefully RIM's PlayBook marketing efforts will clean up the mess as we near launch, but in the meantime I'll do my best to help the cause. I already addressed the no native email, calendar, contacts at launch issue here, and in this post we're going to clear up the misunderstandings between Internet Tethering and the BlackBerry Bridge on the BlackBerry PlayBook and answer some of the big questions regarding both. Here we go!

BlackBerry Bridge vs. Internet Tethering and FAQ

Ok, let's go through some of the key points and frequently asked questions here about the BlackBerry Bridge and Internet Tethering on the BlackBerry PlayBook....

Key Point: BlackBerry Bridge and Internet Tethering are different things!

BlackBerry Bridgevs. Internet Tethering

The BlackBerry Bridge and Internet Tethering are two separate modes of connectivity on the BlackBerry PlayBook. They are not the same thing. Internet Tethering on the PlayBook works with any mobile device that can connect via Bluetooth - it does not have to a BlackBerry. The BlackBerry Bridge, however, requires a BlackBerry Smartphone. You do not tether (get data for web browsing from a mobile device) via the BlackBerry Bridge. Within the PlayBook's Settings menu, Internet Tethering and BlackBerry Bridge are two distinctly different options, as shown on the screen captures above.

What is the BlackBerry Bridge? 

For people who own both a BlackBerry Smartphone and a BlackBerry PlayBook, the BlackBerry Bridge provides a set of additional apps on the PlayBook that allow you to interact with many of the core native apps on the BlackBerry Smartphone, including email, calendar, contacts, BlackBerry Messenger and more.

The connection between the two devices is made wirelessly via Bluetooth. When the Bridge connection is active, the PlayBook acts as an external terminal for the BlackBerry Smartphone - both displaying your phone's data on the PlayBook and allowing you to enter data on your phone from the tablet via the PlayBook's bridge apps. These apps have been enhanced to make use of the tablet's touchscreen and larger screen real estate. No data is actually ever stored on the PlayBook - the PlayBook simply acts as window to the BlackBerry Smartphone. You can almost think of it as Go To My PC for for your BlackBerry Smartphone (or RIM's version of Palm's Foleo, if you remember that). 

If that still sounds confusing, the best thing to do is visualize it with an example. With the BlackBerry Bridge connected, you can have your BlackBerry Smartphone in your pocket or purse but be emailing and BBMing to your heart's content from the PlayBook in your hands. The phone in your pocket is actually still doing the sending and receiving of emails and BBMs back and forth to RIM's servers via your phone's carrier connection, but it feels as if it's happening from the PlayBook directly.

For More Information, view our BlackBerry PlayBook BlackBerry Bridge Setup Tutorial

What is Internet Tethering?

Internet Tethering
I repeat once again... Internet Tethering does not require a BlackBerry!

The WiFi only version of the BlackBerry PlayBook does not have a cellular radio in it like a smartphone does. This means when you are out of a WiFi zone, the tablet has no data connection. Internet tethering is a mode of connectivity that allows the BlackBerry PlayBook to make use of/share another mobile device's data connection. The connection is made between the PlayBook and other mobile device via Bluetooth. The PlayBook can tether via any mobile device that supports Bluetooth tethering. It does not have to be a BlackBerry Smartphone. Once tethered, the PlayBook can now run applications that require data, including the web browser. (Note: We'll be doing a followup article on this soon with more details).

For More Information, view our BlackBerry PlayBook Internet Tethering Tutorial 

Can I use the BlackBerry Bridge and Internet Tether at the Same Time?

Remember, the use of the BlackBerry Bridge requires a BlackBerry Smartphone, so this question is only relevant to people who own both a BlackBerry PlayBook and BlackBerry Smartphone.

GSM BlackBerry Smartphone + BlackBerry PlayBook:  YES, you can be connected via the BlackBerry Bridge and use Internet Tethering at the same time. GSM BlackBerry Smartphones are those that require a SIM card (AT&T, T-Mobile, Rogers, etc.).

CDMA BlackBerry Smartphone + BlackBerry PlayBook: As far as we have been told, NO, currently when using a CDMA BlackBerry Smartphone (Verizon, Sprint) with your BlackBerry PlayBook, you cannot use both Internet Tethering and the BlackBerry Bridge at the same time. We'll be looking forward to testing this out ourselves to find out exactly what the limitations are when using the PlayBook with a CDMA Smartphone. 

Does Internet Tethering Cost Money?

This will depend on the carrier you are with and your smartphone plan. Some carriers have tethering or data share plans that are specifically designed for sharing your smartphone's data connection with other mobile devices. Other carriers may not charge for Internet Tethering so long as data usage stays within the allowed amounts per the subscribed data plan. Be sure to check with your carrier before Internet Tethering to ensure you're not surprised.

What's the real purpose of the BlackBerry Bridge?

This question gets asked a lot. There a couple of reasons why the BlackBerry Bridge exists, and it's not just that RIM would like people to own both a BlackBerry Smartphone and BlackBerry PlayBook.

BlackBerry PlayBook In Enterprise

An Enterprise Ready Tablet - RIM has christened the BlackBerry PlayBook as The First Professional Grade Tablet. To be able to lay claim to that title, RIM has to ensure the BlackBerry PlayBook is secure. The BlackBerry Smartphone and traditional BlackBerry Operating System (as found in phones) are trusted and battle tested by enterprise. For the past decade they have proven their security. The BlackBerry Tablet OS is built upon the QNX operating system, not the traditional BlackBerry Operating System found in phones. While RIM is working hard to secure up QNX and to hook the PlayBook up directly to RIM's servers (and as we discussed in our latest podcast RIM likely needs to deal with the issue of multiple device pins per one user), the quickest way for RIM to create a secure environment on their tablet was to piggy back on the security of the phones. Because none of the critical BlackBerry Bridge data is actually stored on the PlayBook or transmitted to servers directly from the PlayBook, the device is as secure as BlackBerry Smartphones since the paired BlackBerry Smartphone is the secure tunnel connection back to RIM from the PlayBook. So in enterprise, the PlayBook represents the best of both worlds - all of the security of BlackBerry Smartphones combined with the benefits of the tablet form factor and new operating system. RIM has already said that native email, PIM, etc. support will come to the PlayBook, but in the meantime the BlackBerry Bridge allows them to get into market quickly and securely. For more on the BlackBerry PlayBook in Enterprise, check out the slides and audio from this PlayBook Enterprise Webinar.

For consumers, the BlackBerry Bridge may not prove quite as critical but is still a nice value-added bonus for those who own both a BlackBerry Smartphone and BlackBerry PlayBook. We've already seen in the CrackBerry forums that a lot of people plan to make use of the BlackBerry Bridge on their PlayBook so they can email, BBM and more on the PlayBook's nice touchscreen.

For more info, be sure to check out our article on why no native email on the PlayBook at launch.

What smartphone apps and content can I access via the BlackBerry Bridge?

If you are running BlackBerry Device Software 5.0 or later on your BlackBerry smartphone, you can connect your BlackBerry PlayBook tablet to your smartphone to access email, calendars, BlackBerry Messenger files, and other data directly from your tablet.  

BlackBerry Bridge Content

More Questions?

If you have other any questions on Internet Tethering or the BlackBerry Bridge on the BlackBerry PlayBook, drop them in the comments yet or follow the link below to discuss them in the forums.

Discuss Internet Tethering vs. BlackBerry Bridge in the CrackBerry Forums

Reader comments

Clearing up the PlayBook Confusion: BlackBerry Bridge vs. Internet Tethering


Can you please clarify what the Intranet icon does, Kevin? I honestly can not see what it is for even given this article. Excellent work nonetheless, keep it up.


so say your device is connected to the BES... some company have their own intranet... my guess is that icon allows you to access the companys intranet site...

That image of a group of Bridge icons was provided in the Tutorial we did on setting up the BlackBerry Bridge.  My understanding is that it's for Enterprise connected PlayBooks, and allows access of files on an intranet. 

To which I logically ended up as well, but do BlackBerry smartphones connected to a BES currently have any special protocol / facility to connect back to an enterprise Intranet network? Thanks!


yes on BES you can access sites internal to a corporate network (intranet) and that is a feature built in to BES.

Yes, corporations allow access to their interal sites as well as enforce a policy or proxy for external sites. Important for data and security sensitive companies like financial institutions.

I can access all internal "intranet" resources for my company via BES. Of course, when you go "modem mode" via tethering, that no longer works.

well well well... looks like the playbook as another one up on other tablets... being able to connect to ANY device that has a data plan and bluetooth tethering is a great option!! now even iphone users can use the playbook and not need to have a 3G model... that is great!! great job rim! nice write up kevin!

Kevin, I sincerely hope RIM awards you some hero points for all your efforts in myth debunking for the PlayBook! The bridge definitely seems like a stop-gap for the current PlayBook OS until BB7 comes out and they use a different architecture to store and forward PIM data. Even still, pretty cool functionality for when you're just kicking around and need to access corporate email or contacts from home even if your IT policy doesn't allow for webmail.

Now that's some nice and important information. I never planned on actually using my phone as a gateway for a playbook to access internet, but knowing all about the tablet's features can get me out of a pinch sometime

Nice post Kev! I was wondering if you know whether sms messages are supported (on the Playbook, under the "messages" icon) while using Blackberry Bridge (being that it would be tunneled back to the Blackberry phone anyway)? Thanks again for a great post.

Good question. Not sure. You'd *think* they'd be supported as part of messages, but not sure if there's a separate SMS app for the Bridge apps on the PlayBook. Haven't noticed one to date... but wasn't looking for it either. Will see if I can find out.

I truly hope one can bridge the playbook to their bb (os5+) and be able to view and reply to sms/mms messages directly from the playbook!

as much as i hate to say it...i would strongly consider not purchasing one if this functionality is not included.

kevin, may you please address this (try it) in your official playbook review once you get your hands on one on the 19th!

i look forward to watching the review and thank you!

first of all, please do not be naiive to think CBK does not have his own PB right now. how do u think they are able to debunk many of the myths that we (he) has been discussing in these very forums for the last (LONG) 6 months? the moment that clock strikes midnight on 04-19-11, we will be swamped with no less than 12 PB blog articles. cool beans i say but as far as hands on deep dives you can be sure they are sitting on a stack of NDAs.

now here's my question (if it hasn't already been addressed), regarding:
" can connect your BlackBerry PlayBook tablet to your smartphone to access email, calendars, BlackBerry Messenger files, and other data directly from your tablet."

sooo, if i can access "BBM files" i can essentially access any BB files, right? which makes the handheld act as potential extended storage for the PB? if so, i wonder how it streams a video from BB to PB. is there a load of buffering required? ami going to drain the heck out of my BB battery attempting this? please provide answers if you are able to!

piece out,

the brother
(in tha tee dawt, where we like it HOT)

Lol yeah, he's probably got the review up and ready for us as soon as its officially release.

You make a good point. It would be nice to access the phone like an external storage as you can do on the pc. Other than what's mentioned for bridge : bbm, emails, calendar etc I would like to know if pics, music and video can act the same way via that mode. Not sure of the specs on bt for video but music streaming should be fine? Video probably wouldn't look good via bt streaming anyway. Usb is your best bet. Even then if usb otg is supported there's your external space right there!

yes please do report back your findings Kevin. This is big to someone like myself.. i want to use my playbook over my old 8900 any chance i get and would find it a little trouble to have to switch back and forth just to send a message. thank you

There have been questions about SMS/MMS from the PB. As it does email, I can't see why it wouldn't, but haven't seen that it will.

Excellent write-up - and something that hopefully RIM will find a way to clarify for themselves. The problem now is that while you explained it very clearly... most of the folks who read will *not* be those spreading bad information. And the folks reading that bad information are the ones that really need to be reached.

How to get the word out to the BGRs and ZDNets of the world?

Thanks for the post. Now, i can see CDMA blackberry users flaming for not being able to tether and bridge at the same time.

Kevin, maybe explain more why the GSM bb can and the cdma cant. I know gsm does the voice and data at the same time, so is the Bluetooth bridge considered voice and the tethering data?

The CDMA device cannot handle both voice and data simultaneously. It is a limitation of the CDMA network technology. CDMA devices use a single radio for both voice and data. GSM devices, on the other hand, have two radios, one each for voice and data.

(Tether and Bridge at same time???)

CDMA BlackBerry Smartphone + BlackBerry PlayBook: NO

I could see that being a problem for some people. no bridge and tether at the same time......then again, I bet the bridge, once initially setup, would be a quick turn on/off kind of thing.

Im with verizon, so sucks not being able to do the 2 at the same time, then I remember i'm getting the wifi version because i'm around wifi a majority of my day, and that thought makes me happy again :PP

Thanks for confirming what I already thought about tethering and bridge, and for the additional information.

Hopefully the folks selling the playbooks are educated about this because the salesman who took my pre-order thought bridging and tethering are the same thing.

A great explanation, Kevin. But you said..."No data is actually ever stored on the PlayBook - the PlayBook simply acts as window to the BlackBerry Smartphone..." So as an Blackberry BIS/end-user, if I were not in a WiFi zone, why would I want to pay a tethering charge - if, in fact the Playbook is simply a window - to look something up on the internet from my Blackberry? This should not be an additional charge to what I (and many Blackberry consumers) pay to our respective cellular carrier for monthly data plans!

internet tethering with charge,use it when you're not in the hotspot.
blackberry bridge no charge, use bridge when you want the playbook to act as the window to your blackberry smartphone

If you look at Kevin's explanation, above, it's a window to your Blackberry Smartphone when you are using the Blackberry Bridge and it's only a window for viewing: Blackberry Messenger, Messages, Calendar, Contacts, Tasks, Memos, and Intranet (which I assume is if you are connected to a BES at work to view the internal corporate Intranet) from your Blackberry Smartphone. So the Playbook doesn't actually use any extra data plan charges since it's just mirroring what's on your Blackberry.

But when you are using the Internet Tethering, that uses the actual data plan from your Blackberry, so if you are viewing the Internet from your Playbook, it's charged against your data plan. Most carriers have free tethering if you have a data plan over 1GB, but charge if you have a data plan less than 1GB.

I am very intersted in SMS as well. Also (i don't know if this is a dumb question but) can a call be placed from the playbook that is connected to my blackberry?

I had to ask my RIM rep about this whole GSM vs CDMA thing

this is what he said

"Being able to bridge and tether at the same time is not carrier dependant. The bridge functionality uses Bluetooth to access data already on the Blackberry HH. The tethering uses the Bluetooth access to the Handheld to provide access to the carrier network.

What will be carrier dependant is whether or not you can do a data connection (either tethered or receive email via your HH – which replicates to your PB) while on a voice call. That experience will be the same as your current HH device. If you can do simultaneous voice and data on your HH today, we will be able to tether and/or receive email via the HH to your Playbook during voice calls."

Great article. This clears up a lot of misinformation.
I will rarely every have a need to tether. I'm close to wifi 95% of my day. Plus, I don't want, or need to, pay for tethering.
So the Blackberry Bridge will be a great asset to my day. I have a Bold 9650 that will be perfect for what I need. I will be buying a 32gb Playbook. Even if they did have a 4G model, the wifi is all I need.
If I was a commuter on a bus, train, or airport, then a 4G model, or wifi with tethering would be a necessity.

Can anyone explain why RIM isn't clearing this up themselves? This article explains things well, but leaving this to to provide details speaks volumes of the company's marketing strategy. The launch is in 2 weeks! Ugh...

Also, with no simultaneous bridging and tethering for CDMA users, won't this severely limit the target market?

I'm not sure how RIM is going to simplify the marketing material for the masses, but I'm willing to bet a lot of Verizon customers are going to be disappointed after purchasing this.

Read my reply, you can bridge and tether if you're CDMA, but if you're bridge and tethered, you can't make phone calls (like all CDMA devices)

Wow! You've managed to post incorrect info in your article (which is all a lot of people will read), then quote your RIM rep, making things clear as mud, then post more incorrect info here.

It appears to be that case that:

- You CAN use Bridge Mode and be Tethered at the same time, no matter whether the Blackberry handheld is GSM or CDMA.

- You CAN make (and receive) phone calls if you're bridged and/or tethered (contrary to what you said), but, if it's a CDMA phone, the connection from the handheld to the Internet will be suspended while the phone call is active.

- I would guess that you CAN still use the Playbook for Bridged mode activities (e.g. sending or reading email, viewing/editing Contacts, viewing/edit the Calendar) while you're on a phone call, but those activities won't be reflected on the server side until the phone call ends and the Blackberry reconciles with the server. I mean, I can still send and read emails while I'm on a phone call on my Verizon BB now - I just won't receive new emails and emails I send won't actually go out until I hang up the phone call. The only caveat I could see to this when using the Playbook is the possibility that using a Bluetooth handsfree device while on the phone call might interrupt the Bridged mode Bluetooth connection.

Makes perfect sense to me. Data is data and voice is voice. It shouldn't matter whether you are on CDMA or GSM. If Bridge and Tethering use the data channel, you can use both at the same time on CDMA.

Let me ask this question......

if you are bridged, can you still directly access your handheld for data to check the internet, or something similar?

Granted, it's still a bit of a PITA, but it would beat not being able to bridge/tether at the same time. I wonder if you would have to break the bridge connection to access your handheld directly.......

I guess I will just wait until release date, or when Kevin leaks his review by accident.... ;)

Awww, now you said it, he'll be extra careful! :)

Hey, I heard somewhere that some politicians in Canada have one already. Not fair!!!!!!

If they have one, Kevin does too. He's the guy they'd want to leak stuff to first, to give favourable reviews, to suck us in to buy one ;) Actually, I'd buy one even if Kevin gave it the thumbs down. This baby is smokin!!

In the "Blackberry Playbook Connectivity and Management" screen shot above, under Blackberry Bridge Mode it states "Provides secure access to email, calendar, contacts, intranet, and web through Blackberry pairing" So what "web" will I be able to access via bridge mode?

I think the difference is intranet vs Internet. The bridge will allow viewing your company's intranet. That does not include the rest of the Internet. You need to tether to reach the Internet (ie. the world wide web).

One of the slides you show says the following about Bridge Mode:

"BlackBerry Bridge Mode - provides secure access to email, calendar, contacts, intranet, and web through BlackBerry Pairing."

What's the deal with 'web' if you need to tether for that?

My take on the sms/mms on the playbook while bridged is I doubt it will be able to. Being that sms/mms goes through the carrier and not through the blackberry servers like the rest of what is considered messaging (pins, e mails) does.

I'm so excited because my question has been answered in this post. I can BRIDGE and TETHER on my GSM Torch!


Glad you are working hard to keep things clear and understood. Some people are still simply not reading these types of excellent articles. There are still comments on "why would I pay to look up something on the PB when it is just a window..." Etc.

Anyway, I am wondering this. How fast will it sync using the bridge? I mean I am guessing a guy like you probably receives hundreds of emails a day and possibly has thousands stored on your device. Does the bridge transfer the emails as files? Or is more like a transformed video link? Or is it none of these? Does the PB just simply receive a list with file names?
Ultimately I just wonder how long it takes to sync or bridge.


Via bridge? Probably just as fast as you see a blu-ray player connected to a tv or a laptop connected to an external monitor. Its just a mirrored screen as pointed out.

Syncing via bt? Bridge for now won't leave anything on your playbook but in saying that future uses for bridge (endless possibilities) which may come in the form of uploading files, calendar syncing and updates between the paired devices will go as fast as the bt specs allow it too. Theoretically 2.1 can go up to 3 Mbit/s between devices.

Kevin, that was awesome! I no longer have to try to explain this to some friends and colleagues. I can now point them to your article. Sweet!

Very strange there is a difference in the GSM vs CDMA camp for the concurrent use of tethering & Bridging. What does the radio interface on your phone have to do with whether or not the Bluetooth pairing allows for concurrent networking for tethering (i.e., routing) and synchronization (i.e., BlackBerry Bridge)??? . This is really confusing. Is it possible you can clear this up by answering the "WHY"? Thanks!

Sorry, I don't know I missed StuartV's post. I assume it clarifies the issue. I still have a question. A user from CDMA provider on the HSPA+ network will still encounter these CDMA limitations StuartV pointed out -- Internet suspended when you make a call.

StuartV, if you're the RIM rep, why didn't you post this info rather than publicly whacking Kevin for slipping up when conveying these sketchy details? If you're not the RIM rep, my apologies.

Readers are just searching for the facts so we can understand how the product works, but info from RIM has been rather sketchy concerning these tidbits. In fact, the PlayBook's feature set is changing daily from the look of things. I just hope we have a stable product release on April 19th. Can't do the Storm 1/BB OS 4.7 thing ever again!!!

StuartV, we can really use your help to set the facts straight. Thanks!

No, I'm not a RIM rep.

What is "a user from CDMA provider on the HSPA+ network"? AFAIK, Verizon and Sprint are the only CDMA providers and they don't have HSPA networks.

It is an inherent limitation of the current CDMA technology that you can't talk on the phone and do data at the same time. Obviously, the Playbook will have to work within that limitation.

My only knowledge of all this is the combination of what has been posted combined with my knowledge of how my Verizon Blackberry works when used for phone calls, Internet access, and tethering to my laptop.

ps. I believe I have seen it written somewhere that a Verizon phone using 4G LTE for data WILL be able to maintain that data connection while doing voice at the same time.

If that's true, then there is hope that a Bridged/Tethered Playbook could also have Internet access while the paired Blackberry is being used for a voice call - as long as the user has a 4G handset and is in a 4G coverage area.

Oh, right, RIM hasn't even announced a 4G phone for Verizon yet, and the Monaco specs don't include 4G. Bummer......

Thanks for clearing up this confusion as well as all the other ones. With all the people who are currently hating on RIM out there, we need more people like Kevin!

The Web access through bridging sounds promising for web access without tethering fees. Another way may be via. the Intranet connection if your corporate intranet has a web browsing gateway as mine does.

RIM's communication strategy with customers and investors has become one big cluster f***! As a longterm shareholder, I am no longer able to mask disappointment that RIM would rather let misinformation abound vs. inform. When exactly can customers and investors expect RIM to educate us on the PlayBook? While RIM fiddles, CB and others do their best to clear up confusion. To bad this wouldn't get the same response from RIM as Jamie Maurai's open letter because I doubt I'm not the only one who gives RIM a failing grade on how they communicate to customers and shareholders.

Can't agree more. Even though Kevin does a very nice job of cleaning the confusion up (much better than RIM has, for sure), it doesn't change the fact that this is an additional layer of crap that you have to do on the BlackBerry that you wouldn't on any other tablet.

I don't get why RIM felt the need to copy Apple on the entire of MAKING A TABLET IN THE FIRST PLACE, but then got all proud and refused to aspects of the iPad that make it a STANDALONE device. All we kept hearing was how small and convenient this tablet would be, and how much more practical it would be to carry something like this in your coat pocket to check email and BBM. But you won't be getting any notifications unless you also pull the BlackBerry RIM assumes you already have out of your pants pocket, activate tethering, and wait for the information to link up. At which point I would've already gotten whatever I needed done on my BlackBerry smartphone anyway.

This whole strategy makes no sense to me. This was obviously a consumer device in the beginning, they morphed it into a business "accessory" after it was clear how little it would actually do, and now it's the only professional grade tablet that can't check email or maintain your calendar on its own unless you hook it up to something else. Brilliant!

On the other hand, in my case I do not really care if the tablet has native BB apps for email/BBM. I have a phone for that. And the one thing the phone can not do well -- browse the web--due to small screen size, the tablet will be very good at. And not needing to use the phone for web access will prolong its battery life. Let the tablet do that.

So I would say, for me, RIM has nailed it.

And yes I will use the bridging to mirror email and BBM and whatever else. But I see that as just something extra, not a requirement. I mean when would I have the tablet that my phone is not also nearby? Never. And I would expect the bridging to auto link when the phone is within range. I have not read anything that contradicts that.

Also, much prefer a 7" inch form over 10" for portability. Again, something that gets dogged in the press, I think RIM actually nailed for lots of people. Jobs was wrong -- very wrong.

I feel the Playbook sales (barring any big blow ups or technical issues/quality issues after launch), are going to be very surprising to the upside -- to lots that have predicted a bomb.

How can you build a professional grade tablet around such an unprofessional and lackadaisical communications and marketing strategy?

Using bluetooth to a pair a device takes a matter of seconds then you slip that back into your backpocket and access it on a bigger portable screen or u could leave bt on, on your phone? Similar to how touch and go works on web os touchpad and their hp line of phones (pre).

It's a lot more stand alone than the ipad wants to let you believe esp when usb otg arrives.

I honestly see nothing wrong with supporting these extra features and using a tablet as a companion to your smartphone in particularly with a blackberry. Afaik I can't do crap with my phone on an ipad, at least u can tether other phones with the playbook

Sorry but maybe I am missing something on this CDMA Tether/Bridge issue. Of course we probably have to wait and see BUT if I am listening to audio from my Blackberry over bluetooth I can still browse the internet. It might not be the same but isn't making a call the issue and not using tether and bridge at the same time. Voice is not happening here 2 different data processes are.

I've been on the fence about getting a playbook or an iPad. I'm a BB user. Love their phones and the ease I can type. I'm on my third different BB. iPhones just blow and hard to type on. When I heard about the playbook, I was glad that I did not buy an iPad. Since I have an unlimited data plan with AT&T, I was looking forward to tethering. I just got off the phone with At&T andI was told that my plan cannot tether and now I have to go into another plan for just 4gb of data for $10 more. This is B.S.

I could care less about the Bridge. What I want is internet access.

Since I have got an ungodly amount of apple apps and music, I am thinking about just getting an iPad now. BB has priced their tablet the same as the iPad, so their is no advantage there. Not that BB could have done anything, but they should have really tried to work something out with AT&T about their pricing.

Kevin, on a wifi-only PlayBook, bridged to a CDMA handset, the PlayBook can still use its wifi (if connected) to access the net, etc., correct?

Hello great post Kevin!

Piggybacking off of StuartV's comment a few posts up raising an interesting question that I could not find a direct answer to in the forums. And I can not stop thinking about.

In regards to Verizon someday putting out a BlackBerry that runs on the LTE network. From what was mentioned it could do both voice and data simultaneously.

I am fairly new to this, but if you bought the Wi-fi PB and then eventually bought a LTE BB (whenever one is released) would you then be able to tether and bridge at the same time? Do you need an LTE PB and a LTE BB for it to get the same affect. My instinct from reading the forums is that you would not because the LTE PB would be used if you just want that speed directly coming from the PlayBook.

I guess I do not want to buy the Wi-fi PB (with the plan of tethering my 9650 as an option) and then have limitations set on it for when I hopefully see a LTE BB eventually reach the market for Verizon. Any advanced comments from Crackberry geniuses would be greatly appreciated.

The main attraction to the PB for me was the ability to use internet and browse the web via BIS without getting charged extra for data. Now that RIM has cancelled that feature, I'm not going to spend my money on a portable "monitor" that costs just as much as an iPad 2. I might still get a PB if I can send/receive SMS on it. I don't email or BBM much (most of my friends don't have BB's) but am always constantly texting.

I was so looking forward to getting a PB. If I do get one, at least I know I won't need to have a BB anymore. My phone contract is already up and I'm patiently waiting for the Bold Touch. If that doesn't come out soon, I think I'm done with RIM and BB forever. I honestly can't take using my crappy Storm 1 anymore. And I don't want to be locked into another two-year contract with a subpar BB that is currently available.

Hey all, not sure if this has been noticed but from what i read in the article there is a bit of contradiction.... I didnt go through all the comments so im not sure if anyone brought this up.

From what the article says when you are connected to the "blackberry bridge" you do not have internet access from the playbook unless "tethered" or connected via wifi.

but in the screenshot "Blackberry Playbook connectivity and management"

The second line states "Blackberry bridge mode - provides secure access to email, calendar, contacts, intranet and web throught blackberry pairing"

Last time i checked "intranet" means browsing on your corp internal webservers and "web" means the or other Internet websites.

I can see why this is so confusing....

Can anyone that has actually used a playbook confirm this either way.

To be honest if i cant bridge and connect to the internet whats the point?

I could be completely wrong just, my 2 cents.

Hi guy's how fast would bluetooth be for tethering? For example would watching a youtube video work fine or be so slow as to be impractical?

I think you'll be safe watching youtube videos . With average network speeds of 300 to 1,400 kilobits
per second for downloads and 300 to 500 kilobits per
second for uploads, the signal transfer rates are not
exceptionally high for 3G. Weather, signal strength, network
problems, geography and the specific device being used
can cause speeds to vary.

Theoretically bluetooth 2.1 bluetooth can go up to 3 Mbit/s between
devices but generally u won't see those types of speeds due to overheads etc... But even if you manage 100kb/s via bluetooth with 3g you should have a reasonable ezxperience.

Wired tethering e.g through usb will be more reliable. Alternatively there's always a wifi connection

Anyone see the tablet article in Consumer Reports that I received today (May 2011)? They warn to avoid the PlayBook: "The PlayBook, which isn't available yet, will have a proprietary operating system, is expected to be introduced without a native e-mail app, and won't be able to connect to a 3G data network unless you tether it to a BlackBerry smart phone." They conclude that the Motorola Xoom is iPad's only real rival. How wrong is that??! Since I HAVE a BlackBerry smart phone, it doesn't deter me but this review of tethering seems to debunk the CR company line.

Thanks Kevin,
Just one question. I currently use my BB phone as a modem connected to my PC via a USB cable and this is included in my plan. Will this be the same with Bluetooth tethering or do I need to contact my provider??
Also I know there are afew Non North Americans out there who have ordered the PB and again I ask will the Bridge be available for download to those not in Nth America???
Great article.

Great article......thanks.

I still have a Bold 9000 and am waiting desperately for the new Bold Touch. When bridging to surf the web will the speed be determined by the 3G network or the lousy browser in the 9000? In other words is the 9000 browser bypassed?

If you have a cdma blackberry and your using tethering and then you get a call does the tether stop when the phone starts ringing or when you pick up? I have gsm but its going to suck for cdma ppl when u get a call you have to choose picking up phone but then u lose connection and downloads cancel on PB

The PB does have a microphone and bluetooth so I will ask: if you are bridged with your blackberry and you get a call and say your blackberry is on the otherside of the room...can you answer on the playbook and use it as a speakerphone??

I wonder if bridge supprts ring profiles? Does it have a vibrator in it? If I bridgr and my phone is on vibe does my PB vibe? If my phone is on ring does my PB ring? If its on silent does the call come up on PB but its silent? I don't want to have to hold my phone while I'm on PB to see if its vibrating or watch phone screen and PB screen if its on screen only plz

Great simple explanation, though it makes you wonder if RIM is really doing their job explaining these new features as they pop up - sometimes trying to not let the competition know all your plans makes what they do release look like you need to decode it yourself. Hopefully come launch things will be clearer esp with BIS usage (fee or not) and other things they might be holding back.

One things for sure, a non touchscreen bb will be perfect for this device.

quick you think there will be a way to send sms messages on the playbook at launch through the BB Bridge....or will it just be email???

I don't see why not, it is not much different from bbm. Also with a microphone on the playbook, I wouldn't be surprised if you could somehow do phone calls via bridge on a gsm phone calls since video conferencing is in the works and a future 3g/4g tablet is on its way. Though personally I wouldn't use something that size as a phone :)

Can I still talk on my blackberry and surf the web or other applications on the Playbook at the same time?

Have you been able to use the net and talk on a blackberry phone? if you've got a gsm bb then the answer is yes. I think this shouldn't stop u from doing the same thing on your playbook when paired.

Well that's dissapointing. I was telling people to get a playbook instead of an ipad because you don't have to pay for 3g or tethering as long as you have a blackberry

I agree dandekker. I've been touting that feature for weeks in our office. I had to tell people to wait and see and everyone cancelled their preorders (including me). I don't use the internet enough to pay for it at home ($49 through my cable provider) and on my BlackBerry ($30 though Verizon) to pay yet more (unknown tethering charges) or wait for a 3G model and pay another $30 fee from Verizon. That's over $100 per month. I will only buy a PlayBook if using the BlackBerry Bridge will allow me to use the internet (not intranet). I don't care how slow it might be, only that I CAN use it if I need it and I'm not near a WiFi site.

I won't go to the "dark side" and get an iPad. I just won't get a tablet at all.

Thanks Kevin,
I think now all my queries and worries about the Playbook are now sorted! So the Playbook doesn't have native email, etc., but if its connected to my BB then it isn't a problem. Only concern now is when does the damn thing get released on Vodafone in the UK?

Question - My company issued phone 9650 thru Verizon has a tether package included. Hard wire tether Vs. BT - can I still use a usb cable like I do now with my laptop? Also, I would imagine that my next phone will have the hot spot feature. Is the hot spot a hardware or software issue?


its really a shame...that was such a sexy sounding feature, they wouldnt be able to keep the things in the store if they had the ability to use a blackberrys data plan to get online. no way in hell am i going to pay a tethering charge when for the same monthly fee i can get a mobile wifi hot spot and be able to connect additional devices to it including a wifi pb or other tablet

Good article, I have a lot more understanding between bridgeing and teathering. I suppose hands on and actually seeing the difference makes me want the Playbook TODAY....just a couple more days :)

I just contacted Verizion. I have a storm 2 9550 and here's one problem with this Tethering and blackberry bridge on Verizion the storm 2 has both CDMA and GSM but with that said I posed the question since I have both will I not be able to use Tethering and bridge at the same time. The response was "I have no idea how that will work with your plan, because we do not have the device yet. We are eagerly awaiting the release so that we can better serve you." so the person I talked to confirmed they will be getting it but would not comment on when that will happen; and they did not answer my question of how the hell that is going to work. I will find out how that all work when it comes out along with the rest of you.

Do we know if the Playbook is equiped with a transmiting wifi antenna. From what I have read the new BB phones (like the storm 3 or whatever they are calling it these days) will have a transmitting function so it would make sense that the Playbook, being RIM's latest and greatest would have it as well.

The reason I ask is because, theoretically, if the playbook has a transmitting function, and if it is teathered to a phone by bt, then it could be used to make a hotspot that way! It would really be usefull for those of us who blew all their budget on the playbook and can't afford to buy the next gen bb with hotspot functionality :(

anyone know if it is probable let alone possible.....or am I just another crazy person?

my bb bold 9700 is w/ AT&T and I have grandfathered in w/ $30.00 unlimited web/ data and 200 sms/mms per mo. AT&T already disables BB Maps cause they want you to pay $9.95 mo for Navigator.....I got around this by using Google Maps for the times I'm walking and need directions in unfamiliar surroundings. Now I also have Garmin Maps App. I want to be able to use the Playbook to watch my Dish programming, control and access my DVD remotely. The Bold 9700 is way too small to watch TV/ video or really surf the internet. I pre-ordered the Playbook thru BestBuy (though I hate their store) and I can access AT&T WiFi hotspots all over, as well as my home network 'N' speed the Playbook is capable of and flash 10+. If AT&T blocks tethering, as it would NOT surprise me, it's not a dealbreaker because I don't need a data plan on the Playbook.......

Maybe I am crazy, but didn't the article say" wifi mode tethering through Bluetooth? They mean wifi right? Why call it wifi if it doesn't use wifi? There are many wifi hotspots....I don't know of any Bluetooth hotspots. Perhaps it means you can tether via Bluetooth or wifi? Don't blackberry phones currently have a wifi hotspot option?