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Finally a use for PlayBook: Tab bodged into Windows, PS3 remote

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The updated OS pushed out to PlayBooks yesterday can turn a BlackBerry handset into a remote control for Windows 7, or even Android, thanks to the wonders of Bluetooth.

The feature was spotted by the chaps over at the RIM-obsessed CrackBerry blog, who wasted no time demonstrating how a BlackBerry handset, prompted by linking up with a PlayBook, can be used to remotely control a Motorola Xoom and even a PS3, with only Apple devices refusing to place nicely.

The functionality comes from RIM's use of standard Bluetooth human-interface device protocols. The PlayBook already works well with Bluetooth keyboards and mice (though, in our experience it's best to attach the keyboard first), so the BlackBerry Remote application (running on a handset) uses the same protocol to remotely control a PlayBook, which in turn means it can be used to control any device supporting the HID Profile.

The same thing allows a Wii remote to control an Android phone, or to work as a cheap projector pen, and it's a tribute to RIM that they've implemented the standard so completely.

The new PlayBook OS is a significant overhaul, adding a native e-mail client and getting much better at integrating with cloud-based services (including Google calendar and contacts - our initial problems were resolved with a system reset).

But it's still the only mobile platform that can underline one's spelling mistakes in red, for the moment at least. That's not important to many people, but it's a killer feature for some, and the ability to push a BlackBerry handset into being a PS3 remote probably isn't a killer feature for many either, but it's got some wow factor which RIM desperately needs. ®

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