When I first reviewed the BlackBerry PlayBook a month ago, I was, by CrackBerry Kevin standards, pretty hard on RIM's first tablet. Part of this harsher-than-usual judgement was justifed based on what the PlayBook was lacking at launch and was well-documented across PlayBook reviews (I don't need to rehash it here - see our BlackBerry PlayBook review for full details).
Another area where I was admittedly negative on the PlayBook at the time of my initial review was on the PlayBook's physical size. Having been an iPad and iPad2 owner since the release of each of those products, downsizing to the PlayBook's smaller 7" display and HD aspect ratio took some getting used to. And since I was working on my PlayBook review mainly from the desk in my office for a week, I was overlooking the true value in the major benefit of the PlayBook's size - Portability!!
It took me a couple weeks to de-iPad myself, but now that I've been using the PlayBook for over a month I can honestly say I LOVE the portability of the PlayBook. Unlike the iPad which just sat around my house unless I was flying somewhere and would use it to kill time on a flight, my PlayBook pretty much goes with me everytime I leave home. Sizewise it's like comparing a paper back novel to a magazine (that you can't roll up). There are obvious benefits and trade-offs associated with both sizes.
I know Steve Jobs made his infamous claim that 7" tablets would arrive DOA because the app experience would be sacrificed, but obviously El Jobso was thinking of a 7" iOS product and not a 7" BlackBerry on the QNX-based BlackBerry Tablet OS. The brilliant thing RIM did on the PlayBook was to hide app options off the screen, making them visible by swiping down from the top bezel. Thanks to this, RIM effectively expanded the screen size beyond 7", meaning you're not wasting any visible screen real estate for stuff that isn't core to the app. Yes, there are applications where a bigger would make for a more pleasant experience, such as in the web browser where you do find yourself scroling quite a bit, but that is the trade off of having a device that is much more portable for everyday use. But even in the web browser the smaller 7" display size actually has it's benefits - it makes the device easy to hold one-handed. Of course, what you do with your other free hand is up to you! (bad joke).
At the end of the day it's going to be a personal decision as to whether you prefer a larger or more portable tablet, and with Research In Motion working on a 10" version of the PlayBook we were curious to find out from our readers where they weigh in on the tablet size matters debate. You can see the results above from our poll. With over 15,000 respondents so far, all things being equal 60% of our CrackBerry readers would prefer a 7" PlayBook over a 10" one. That leads me to conclude two things... first, that 7" tablets ARE NOT DOA (suck it Steve). And two, people's tastes are going to vary, so the best thing to do for a company like RIM is make more than one size of tablet so people can pick the size that suits them best.
/ The end.