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Reviewers slam BlackBerry PlayBook software

No BB messages without your smartphone attached

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Research in Motion launched the BlackBerry PlayBook in the States last night, and with it reviewers' non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) have expired. What they are saying does not inspire confidence.

The hardware meets with approval, but is being let down by RIM's software.

The key case for the prosecution: no on-board email, a stark absence given that's the very function that made BlackBerry a household word.

RIM has promised that the PlayBook will get email during a system update later this year, timed to tie in with the release of a version of the tablet that will contain a cellular network modem.

In the meantime, buyers can use a new tool, BlackBerry Bridge, to hook tablet to smartphone and use the latter's 3G link to grab secure email. Bridge creates a protected link between the two devices and presents smartphone apps on the tablet screen.

It's a technically impressive tool, some reveiwers say, but almost all of them condemn its lack of user friendliness. Why not simply route the secure email over Wi-Fi through a virtual private network (VPN)?

The PlayBook doesn't do BlackBerry Messenger, either.

The 425g PlayBook's 7in 1024 x 600 screen is good, as is its browser's ability to handle Adobe Flash. It has an HDMI port for telly connectivity. It has a full 2.4GHz and 5GHz 802.11n Wi-Fi radio. Bluetooth too. There's a 3Mp webcam and a 5Mp photo camera on the back.

The PlayBook goes on sale in the US on Tuesday, 19 April. RIM hasn't said when the tablet will debut in the UK. ®

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