Portability Matters! 60% of 15,000+ poll respondents would prefer a 7" BlackBerry PlayBook over a 10" version

By Kevin Michaluk on 12 May 2011 11:54 am EDT
Yes, that's a PlayBook in my pocket. BlackBerry PlayBook Poll Results

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.

Reader comments

Portability Matters! 60% of 15,000+ poll respondents would prefer a 7" BlackBerry PlayBook over a 10" version


you know it! it should also be noted that I actually have the PlayBook in the blackberry convertible case in my pocket... so that's not a naked playbook, but a protected one.  and those are just the standard pockets on my armani jeans. i bet georgio was thinking 7" tablet friendly when designing them. lol.

This is interesting. My CEO decided on an iPad because of it's larger size. She prefers it because she's no longer a 30-ish woman and needs the larger area to see everything well. We'll probably be getting a couple of the 10 inch playbooks if/when they come out for this very reason. Indeed a few others here at work have mentioned that their BB phones are just so hard to see everything and work well with them because of their eyesight. As our population ages this may be an interesting area to consider. Just some thoughts.

I was showing my PlayBook to my boss yesterday and the first thing she said was "my eyes are too old to read print on that small screen, I have a hard enough time reading it off of my blackberry phone!"

I then showed her how easy it was to zoom in and she changed her position on the matter.

to add to that.. my gf's 72 year old dad and my mom (in her sixties) are both rocking playbook's right now (and on the other end of the age spectrum my 3 year old niece is getting pretty good on the playbook too).

i think the on screen size of things doesn't really vary too much between playbook and ipad... as in the size of icons on the homescreen and text beneath them are basically the same between playbook and ipad (and on the 10" playbook the icons will likely be same size, etc).  and in apps like the browser, it's just a matter of doing a quick tap to zoom up if the text is too small to read. i think both young eyes and old eyes are going through the same process of zooming there...

playbook could definitely use some accessiblity options still though... allowing people to supersize everything if wanted.

I've had my playbook for a week now. My husband got it for me, all the while complaining that it's such a waste of money. Well, now I'm having to fight him for "playtime." He's a convert. However, he does have big hands and the 7 inch is a tad small for him. So now he's saying that if a 10 inch playbook is released, he'll buy one for sure.

For the same reason a single phone model does not fit everyones lifestyle, a single tablet size is not going to satisfy every user. In my opinion, it will be a good decision if RIM offers both a 7" and 10" size Playbook to accommodate more users.

You might be right. But I'd argue that's actually a good thing. It means RIM can dominate the 7" tablet market....  just like how everybody thinks a phone with a keyboard is a blackberry, I could totally with time see that happening with 7" tablets... people will just assume a smaller tablet is the playbook. Of course RIM will also have bigger tablets too.. but owning 7" tablets would be awesome for RIM.


You might be surprised on that bet. I'm typing this on a rooted Nook Color that runs Android and I think the size is awesome. Its virtually the same size as the Playbook and very portable. Apple has made it very clear that they aren't making a 7 inch ipad anytime soon. Between the Nook and Galaxy Tab there's already 2 Android tablets in that form factor. The way Android works im sure there will be many more as different manufacturers get involved. Of course over at Crackberry's sister site Androidcentral they've added a forum for the Playbook as an Android Device. That does make sense in a way for people with questions about Android apps on the Playbook when they become available. I don't think there's really a right or wrong answer to the 7 vs 10 inch debate. It will just come down to individual taste.

I like the portability my wife grabs her torch, and playbook in the morning and slide them into her purse and she out the door. My father has the ipad he uses it on sundays to give his sermons on and throughout the week to work on them. My fried leaves the pad laying in the den on the coffee table for guest to use but neither really travels with their pads. But me and my wife grab the pb like grabbing your phone and keys.

I totally disagree. Whether 7 or 10, you still realistically need to carry it in a briefcase or under your arm. Might as well have a screen that mimics a laptop versus one that's an oversized smartphone.

I took the playbook on vacation with me and carried it every where. if fit in the pockets of my shorts comfortably and inconspicuous. these were cargo type shorts. and i found it fits fine on the inside pocket of my leather jacket. so I respectfully disagree

I couldn't agree more. I carry my PlayBook with me like I carry my phone. I haven't yet found a pair of pants where they don't fit in the front pockets. It is a bit of a tight fit on some of my jeans, but I like that I can feel that it is there. I don't have any issues with my dress pants and even some of my suit/sport jackets. I definitely don't have to struggle to get the PB out either.

It goes EVERYWHERE with me. (32" waist)

This is insanity. There is no way the general population would accept this as a possibility...

Desperate rationalizers and niche clothing aside... There is no way to sustain the idea that the PB is more portable than the iPad because you can cram in your pants pockets.

This argument is moot. Both devices weight the same and both require a carrying apparatus. Neither is more portable than the other.

I could walk down the street with pop in one hand and pizza in the other and still have my playbook on me with no thought of how to carry it or any hint of it being awkward to have on me. I can not do that with a larger tablet unless I had a backpack, bag of some type, or used my hands to carry it, therefor it is more portable.

The idea that the general public would accept carrying a device of this size regularly is insanity? This prediction reminds me of Bill Gates on computer memory...

"640kb ought to be enough for anybody"

Portable phone: People will never carry around a phone with them all the time
Laptops: People would never carry around a computer
Watch: Who would ever wear a clock on their wrist?

Funny you mention niche clothing, did pants used to have cellphone pockets? or school bags set spots for phones/ipods?

That pretty much echoes my opinion. I want something that is in a sweet spot between my BB phone and a more traditional laptop. It seems as though the PB is too closein size to the phjone end of the spectrum.

Now, I say this not having any tablet at all, but if I were out shopping for one, I would be very unlikely to go for the PB, despite being a true Crackberryhead. I think what might away me is the compatibility issue of having a BB handheld and a BB PB....but the size thing is a big hurdle for me.

Hey if you carry your Playbook that way often, better have it insured before someone lifts it or you sit on it 8-)

Someone's got to invent a flexible touch display so it can be a clamshell, then you've got 7" and 10" in one, and if angle-opened it'd be like a laptop with a keyboard that can turn into an extension of the display when you want.

a) it's actually tight enough in the pocket that you'd never sit on it... as you start to sit your jeans tighten up.  I'd have to be hammered super drunk to actually sit on it I think.

b) i pity the fool who'd try to lift off me. i have a sensitive ass and i'd rip them to shreds when i caught them trying to steal :)

I said on another blog that I think 8 inches would of been perfect. For one, it would of saved RIM from having to make two models. Secondly, I don't think 8 inches would be too big for people who like 7 and the people who like bigger tablets would be fine with 8 inches.. I definitely would of compromised if I was RIM between the 7 and 10 so I only had to make one size and so it appeals to more people. I'm sure this way would save RIM money as well cause I'm sure having to produce two sizes costs them more money

Respectively disagree...

sure, 8" hits the sweet spot between 7" and 10" but the problem is it isn't "good at anything".

7" wins for portabilty - you can take it everywhere

10" wins for real estate - the best onscreen experience

so 8" is kind of good for nothing.. it's not really even a compromise IMO if it's not small enough to be portable for everyday use, then it sits around home like 10" tablet would... so you might as well go 10"

though.. the more options the better... and it's samsung's approach.. they went 7", 10", then 8.9" last... 


so the question is.. when will the 10" will be launched? Portability vs HD =) that's kinda the right title for 7" vs 10" ;) and that's the reason I haven't bought my PB yet...

Love the portability of the PB. I'm gonna be traveling, but being the geek that I am, I'm gonna take the PB and the iPad 2 with me. Playbook for running around, and iPad 2 for the hotel.

Can't wait for the Birthday Post Kevin!

Second last sentence of this article is one of the funniest things I've read on CrackBerry in a while haha. And yes, suck it Steve

Playbook portability is replacing my need to upgrade my Storm2. When the 4G PB comes out I may drop the smartphone altogether . . . I'm a heavy data user not a talker. Besides wifi calling is free! Portability is what made me buy this over an iPad2 and Motorola Xoom

Interesting comment as I just replied to somebody who made the comment that nobody would ever see The general public carry a 7" device around all the time.

Would this same argument be happening if the tablet evolution happened before the cellphone turned into a smartphone?

7" vs the 2.8" ...
"The 2.8" is just so much more portable!"
"Yeah but the screen is just too small for me"
"It may be smaller, but its more portable..."

If a device like the playbook and communication tools such as video chat and mms/sms evolved before the smartphone, would we all be carrying around a 7" tablet as the norm?

The advantage the iPad has over the PlayBook is simple: the disadvantage of the iPad, its unportability, is a latent one. The PlayBook's disadvantage on the other hand, its small screen, is much more obvious. That means: when people grab an iPad for the first time, they're impressed by the big screen and what it's displaying, the legibility of the well-sized letters, the ease-of-use and intuitive UI. Most of them are impressed by the good chracteristics it has and just don't think about wether it's portable or not. But when people grab the PlayBook the first time (having the iPad still in their head comparing to it), they also don't think about portability, but what they instantly notice is a small screen (where they expect one big like the iPad's) with letters harder to read (specially elder people) and especially less worksize. Only a few ones will think of portability. And I agree to you, Kevin, as you say that RIM isn't in direct competition to the iPad this way, because the smaller screen with more portability has or will get his owm market where RIM could take the lead. The next step, to bring in a 10"-version as well, is a very good one I think. Till then the 7" PlayBook will have made a name for itself; will have much more functionalities and more apps. The 10" PlayBook will take its benefit out of this when hitting the market and the rest of tablet-users can be attacked. Good so.

Well Playbook's OS is much more intuitive UI than Apple's OS and people find it much cool and easy to use (that's opinion across the ages as per people who I know and are using Playbook). You are welcome to go across Youtube with som many reviews between these devices, everybody is On spot and agrees to it. Secondly the screen of Playbook is also much better playing the videos, so display wise too Playbook is top notch. It seems to be case of somebody who did not used Playbook.

That wasn't my opinion. I'm absolutely pro-PB and pro-7" and I know the PlayBook's OS very well and saw many many vids on YouTube - I'm in love with it and I hate the iPad.

I tried to explain what a "regular everyday normal guy", who doesn't really care about gadgets, IT and stuff at all, thinks, when he's trying out such devices for the first time. That's the target group Apple's aiming at. Now people are using smartphones and tablets, who were never interested in them before and specially who got pretty little knowledgment of how to use and handle such a technical device (never got used to it). You doesn't have to learn anything to get used to an iPad, it just works how you expect it to work without any hidden functions. For the PlayBook you first have to learn the gestures. Not much, easy to do, sure, but a tech-noob with a $500-purse in a shop will probably take the device with the bigger screen which he could handle from the first second.

Whatever, if the UI is intuitive or not, in core i meant

big screen with big clear letters even for bad eyes unportable VS. small screen with small letters portable.

And I think most people notice a bigger screen positively without noticing the unportability this causes.

"I know Steve Jobs made his infamous claim that 7" tablets would arrive DOA because the app experience would be sacrificed, but obviousy El Jobso was thinking of a 7" iOS product and not a 7" BlackBerry on the QNX-based BlackBerry Tablet OS."

LOVED this line!

I like the 7" size because of how easy it is to hold it in one hand when reading. I can comfortably recline on my sofa and read from the PlayBook like a paperback novel. In fact, it's even easier to read from than a standard sized hardcover. A 10" tablet wouldn't give me that same experience. Besides, the PlayBook fits in my regular purse so I don't have to worry about any bulk. It seems to me to combine so many gadgets into one since it's so portable. Sure, my laptop, BlackBerry, and a couple of paperbacks could do the same thing, but who wants to lug all that crap around all day (or a 10" tablet for that matter)?

I completely agree with you. I returned a Motorola Xoom that I thought would be awesome until I realized that many of the apps that I wanted to use, such as the grocery list/price comparison made the device too cumbersome--it was too heavy and you had to use two hands to hold it.
My only complaint right now is the lack of good apps. Can't wait for the Android player to get here.

We'll see how sales turn out if RIM actually releases a 10" PB. I'm betting in the end "size matters" and in the end people will gladly accept the slightly larger/heavier 10" PB in return for the larger screen size.

I like my PB, I don't think I'll go for the 10 when it comes out. Sure I'd use it if I won it or something but I know if would just sit on my coffeee table at home and so not worth spending $500 or more on it.

Went on a business trip M-W and took only a carry on. I could slip my PB in the back pocket of the carry on when I was walking. Wow a trip with only one bag that was on wheels and no bag under the seat in front of me. Great!

Got to wonder what Steve Jobs thought of the Playbook when he got his hands on it...yes, I am assuming he checked one out. I say this because he's still a Geek at heart, so he'd want to see what RIM developed with QNX and the UI first hand.

Just knowing his unbiased opinion would be interested.... not the least bit interested in what he'd say in public, only the unbiased private opinion.

BTW, I too am loving my 64gig Playbook, it does go everywhere with me, except one night when leaving the office in a rush I left it on my desk....went through separation anxiety the whole night. Brought my power cord thinking I'd need to recharge it, but no need it last the whole two days.

Portability is why i got the playbook and it is great at that. I just need better use-ability. I can't send a 1 min video clip via email. I can't share anything with friends from the face book app because there is no share function. There is no spell check or sure type. Kevin, I really am trying to love my playbook ,but i still don't get your jumping for joy over it. Really and truly I want this to become a great product, but trying to over look the flaws is getting harder by the day. The playbook's lack of basic functionality is out weighing the portability I want and love.

No offence, but wearing one's PB in one's back pocket like that rates fairly high on the douche scale I think! ;)

Thats right portability does matter si f#*! cnet for wack rating complaining about the bbpb not being big enough, go get a ipad and look stupid carrying a big ass tablet

I would prefer a 5 inch playbook with a 4G radio including voice, like the Dell Streak. Basically a big phone or small tablet. In either case, one great device!!!!!!

It's a very close poll and should be treated as such. Also there's the fact that this is on a blackberry blog. Personally I hate the size of my PlayBook, if RIM made a 10" one they'd have a lot more buyers.

If you mean that RIM would sell more PBs if they had two sizes, then yes you are correct. if you mean that RIM would have sold more if they had released a 10" playbook first, the results of this poll indicate otherwise.

I'm so sick and tired of Steve Jobs comments... RIM needs to take a lot of credit for the design of the PlayBook and specifically (as mentioned in the article) how they made a 7" tablet bigger by allowing menu's to hide. I'll take my PlayBook over my iPad any day. As a side note, me thinks me'll have to buy a 10" PlayBook as well because I'm sure it it will be waaaay cool!

Trust me on this one everybody. PORTABILITY kicks ASS !
Look how many travellers carry a big camera, and how many have a small camera that can be tucked away in a pocket or a purse. Small camera wins!

Remember those BIG bulky video cameras that you balance on your shoulders to take videos. Other then TV personal, do you see them around much? Small video camera wins!

How about them first cell phones that you need to carry around with an attached base? Do you see them anymore? Small phone wins!

And how about those 10 inch tablets? Do you still see them roaming the streets, or did the 7 inch tablet squash them? Small tablet wins! (opps .... I am a few years too early on this one .... but it's coming! - MARK MY WORDS !!! )

I'm a huge BB fan (I got 14 BB so far, actually rocking the 9800) but I also like Apple a lot (Even the iPhone4 last 2 months on my hand).
I live in Switzerland and I'm probably one of the happy few having a PB here..... and I also have the iPad2.
I bought the iPad2 becouse I was tired of waiting for the PB... IPad2 is a great device but its actual task right now is standing as an (expensive) digital frame at home! Since I've got the PB, I carry it everywhere with me, constantly linked to my Torch (I like that blue led telling me that they're communicating together!).
Before having the PB, I couldn't live without my BB beside me... Now with the PB, it happens that I don't know where my Torch is at home :-)
The funny thing is that the few times I used the iPad these last days, I found myself trying to close an application a la PlayBook way (It didn't work....).
But still, something retains me from selling the iPad, even if I'm not really using it at the moment.....
At the end, I really like my PB, for one time, smaller IS better...... And impatiently waiting for my next BB (9900)...

The very fact that only 60% prefer 7" on a wholesale bkackberry supporting website is telling. If any of you do a lot of trade shows, you will see the ipad2 being used heavily as a face t face presentation tool in the trade booths as well as walking around the arenas and concourse. Not to mention pharmaceutical reps with doctors. This business functionality is lost on the 7" screen where you must pinch to zoom to make things legible. We will see what the playbook sales numbers bear out. But it is interesting that other mfgs have already abandoned the 7" form factor.

More than 40% of CrackBerry readers would prefer a different form factor... I think that's incredible. I would love to see a similar poll on iPad users for the form factor, I would be making bets that it's a lot closer to 90 / 10 as opposed to 60 / 40.

That would be fortunate for iPad users because Apple will never offer a 7" tablet.
PlayBook users, on the other hand, will have a choice.

if im honest, i will buy the 10 inch version too, i love the fact i can take my pb everywhere, i love the look on peoples faces when they see it too!
i sold my ipad due to lack of use last week, i do miss the extra size of the screen when at home but not enough to use use the ipad.

My daughter thought I was Sponge Bob Square Pants, when she saw my playbook in my pocket. No matter what size the playbook makes in future models I would never buy anything but a 7 inch. For me, true portability is the most important feature in size. In winter my leather coat inside pocket is the best fit.