Apple iPad vs. BlackBerry PlayBook hands on - CES 2011

Our good friend CrackBerry Kevin got to go hands-on and do a full BlackBerry Playbook review today -- including a one-on-one with Apple's iPad -- and I got dragged along as camera guy.

The PlayBook looked very good. Much more responsive and fluid than the Galaxy Tabs I've tried (that will likely change come Honeycomb on the Droid Pad) and while it wasn't finished hardware or software yet, it certainly looks like it's living up to RIM's ambitions. Developer support/platform momentum, future form factors (RIM has one of every phone type, could there be bigger tablets, keyboard sliders, who knows?), how it will play beyond the BlackBerry base, and what the tablet market will look like when iPad 2 hits are all questions that remain to be answered. But for today, kudos to RIM for a slick, smooth UI and really nice looking hardware.

Kevin's iPad vs. Playbook video after the break. Check out for the full Blackberry PlayBook review including RIM's walkthrough video, Kevin's impressions, and a ton more photos. Then race back here and tell us what you think, is the BlackBerry PlayBook going to make a dent in Apple's iPad 2 plans?

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Apple iPad vs. BlackBerry PlayBook hands on - CES 2011


Big ups to Blackberry for creating a Ok tablet but it's not even on the original iPads level. So iPad 2 (or my theory iPad 3D) will crush IT AND ALL IT'S COMPETITION. Apple has the GAME LOCKED! Everyone had a good run when Apple was in the background but now there ain't no touching Apple. MC HAMMER - CAN'T TOUCH THIS (Apple Anthem)

OK tablet? It's far better than the iPad. It has a camera, HDMI out, and the web browser has no limitations. Sure the screen size is smaller but that just make it more portable, and there will likely be a larger screen version in the future.
Sure the iPad 2 is going to have improvements over the original version, but in the coming months Apple is not going to be the only company with a tablet. Android is winning over many consumers and RIM sure has impressed everyone with there Playbook.

Ok, for god's sake, is this a joke?
It's the most ridiculous tablet I've EVER seen, OMG, I can't be sure but I reaaaaally think Apple WON'T add a REAR facing camera on the iPad, only a front facing one. The playbook is really stupid. It's very small, ergo TERRIBLE for reading, NO ONE would walk around taking pics with it. The Original iPad beats the playbook TOTALLY. The apps available for iPad rock! 10 inches are simply perfect. Don't fool yourself with competitors, originals are best! And for those useless people still talking about flash (no offense) GET OVER IT I'm sooooo glad apple didn't allow flash on iOS devices. Flash Crashes on Windows, Flash crashes on Mac, Flash crashes on Linux, and Flash TOTALLY sucks on Android devices!
Almost 70% of ALL videos on the web can run on the iphone/ipad, flawlessly, fast, perfect! Flash is OLD and HTML5 is future. And even if you do need to watch flash content, DOWNLOAD SKYFIRE!!!!!!!
It runs almost any flash video on the web. Please, you people have to press another key, you'll always talk about flash because in every angle the iPad is better than PlayBook. The iPad 2 will destroy the competition, the same way iPad 1 did. If the iPad wasn't that good, there wouldn't be millions of happy iPad owners including corporations, schools, politics and kings, and of course, people who buy it for personal use. Apple won the Mobile world a looooong time ago. It's useless to resist.

LoL, he is totally owned. Everybody tablet in the market in 2011 will suport Flash, only apple wont. Did you notice that the biggest video feeder online still working with flash? youtube?! Wake up for reality. 2011 will be the end of the Mobile Apple Era. Android, BB and WebOS will crush the apple market as know today, sorry to say it...

You are totally wrong youtube is FULLY SUPPORTED on the iPad. And again, videos which are not supported can be played on Skyfire app. You are wrong, the smartphone world belong to Apple since 2007 and I am 100% sure that the iPhone will still be THE smartphone and the iPad will be THE tablet. Of course there are other options but they are mere copies...

iPad play videos not in native way. It uses a application to play the h264 encoded files. So no flash games for you and the all the gorgeous internet rich content. And BTW flash craschs on PC? Sure it happens on day or another it happens to meu 1 or 2 times in a month. Yes im a PC user. I dont remove my statment about my perdiction on the end o this kind "Apple Era". You will se in the coming few years. In history every (too much)closed platform falled in time. The history repeats itself. Its cyclic.

Dude seriously, your comment is a total fail.
Standard book sizes are 9"x7" the amount covered by the actual text you are reading is much smaller than that. 10" is only used in Text books. Most people dont like carrying around Textbooks (iPad) yet they dont mind carrying around a small Paper Back (Playbook). Needless to say 'Kindle' only has a 6 inch display. Everybody uses flash, so why not incorporate it in your next gen devices. The playbook also runs HTML5. I fail to understand how the Oversized iPod is sooo much better than the playbook. The playbook is a HUGE step for BB way different from anything we've seen before from them. Not to mention the speed this thing will pack. There are so many things that Blackberry could do from the start that the iPod/phone couldn't up until its latest version. Multi-tasking.. pff I've been able to do that since 2005 when the first Pearl came out. (the business side of the playbook is going smash the large iPod into a bloody pulp) I will not deny that 'iPods' are cool and fun and have great apps better than BB yes. But there is also NO DENYING that the Playbook is going to change the game for BB and is nothing less than an outstanding device.

I stopped reading your comment after "it's terrible for reading"
LoL, 90% of books are around 7", comment fail.

People like you are the reason I'm embarrassed to say I use Apple products, if they wanna use the Playbook than FINE! I prefer the iPad but I don't forcing it down peoples throats. Both devices are great, I just don't have any use for flash so I prefer the iPad.

I think you can use Laptops bro, you will have CDROM drive and USBs too with NVIDIA or ATI GFX

Exactly....THE SIZE...its not a big difference form the iphone...i think the ipad is better for reading the web and books...

How can you say that 10" is way better for reading books when 90% of the e-book readers are 7" or smaller (link here: ) . Ipad is good but really just an oversized ipod touch. With Playbook I like the idea of 7" portability and the specs look great.With the hdmi out I can have a 50" screen if I really wanted. Where is that on Ipad? Only time will tell who wins. Apple does have a solid footing though.

I have to say that I am impressed, but It's still to small for me. It would be difficult to do any real blogging on it. I prefer the iPad's size.
By the way, please feel free to check out my blog.

Why would I take anyone, who loves any BlackBerry and "hates" the iPhone, seriously?
Who's opinion's next? Carrot Top's? :roll:

I think it looks good but it's too small and doesn't have a must buy feeling for me. Then again I sold my iPad because I hardly used it so to me the iPad is more desirable with the apps and size but I don't think I'll buy any tablet unless iPad 2 has some killer new wow features.

From gizmodo preview of Playbook:
...The core email and calendar apps are completely tethered to a BlackBerry. Without your BlackBerry, there is no native email or calendar app—just access through the (admittedly good) web browser....
Eww! You'll have to tie your Playbook with your BlackBerry!

Why is it that all these new tablets seem to be forgetting something.... The iPad can flip anyway possible even upside down... It seems these new tablets stay in one position like to xoom, playboii, acer, lg etc. Even the logos suggest that they had not intention of rotating these devices.

It rotates. Just check I do agree though with the logo implying a set way to use the device. I would prefer it without, but it's not a breaker to me by any means.

If iPad 2 will come with Retina Display and a bit lighter, the tablet war will go nuclear.IMHO

PlayBook is still vaporware. It isn't a shipping product yet. Just a demo. And RIM says it won't ship until summer. Sounds like RIM wants to take a look at iPad 2 to see what features they can rip off, then mash them up into PlayBook before its release.

@ Bengine - "Eww! You’ll have to tie your Playbook with your BlackBerry!"
A certain Palm product named Foleo comes to mind here. Palm spent who knows how much time, money, and consumer good will developing Foleo, then never released it. It was kind of like a stripped-down netbook, before there were any netbooks. In a way it was ahead of its time.
The PlayBook, on the other hand, is behind the times. Along with all the lame me-too Eee MeMos, Eee Sliders, Eee Transfomers, and yes, the Eee Stale. I mean Slate. It runs Windows. 'Nuff said.

Kevin wears a coat all year? Were does he live, Antarctica??? iPad is like carrying a book or folder, no way would i want it to be 7 inch - while bing portable, it would suck - as a tablet!

Crackberry Kevin has zero credibility. Here's what he had to say about the Blackberry Storm:
"When I first read about the SurePress concept I was a bit skeptical as it gave me the impression of being inefficient. Think about it - you're now carrying out two steps on the Storm vs. one step on regular touchscreen phones where the navigation and confirmation is carried out in the initial touch event. How wrong I was!
"Drum Roll Please.... I know you're all waiting for this one.... Typing... on... the... BlackBerry... Storm... is....... Awesome!"
Enough said.

We have to realize that everyone else has been in a holding pattern of despair since the iPad launch. Now, for the first time, other platforms are showing a sign of life. It doesn't have to be much to get the non-iPad fans excited. Initial reviews of all the competitors will be glowing. Their just glad to have something to review.
The size of the thing is so small, it almost looks cute, but not in a good way.

As pointed out, this is vaporware, and it doesn't seem like there's much to report other than this is the size it will be and it has a kind of rubberized back. I'm glad Kevin got to toy with the device a little, and I can imagine seeing new yet-to-be-released hardware is exciting for gadget geeks like Kevin (and to a certain extent, myself), but until I see the final version of the OS and bundled software and how/if third party developers support the platform, I will reserve judgement. While it's great to get an early look at the hardware, we all know it's software (bundled/OS/otherwise) that makes or breaks a platform. That part has yet to play out. I hope it does well and can do some innovative things. Competition helps the consumers.

i will buy this play crap, if they give me the option to pull the battery out, any time this junk crash or froze up, like the blackbery phones..
sorry this play crap is going to be another dinosaur.

You guys have to be more realistic. Apple won't have a 70% size marketshare like the DAP market. Like the "smartphone" market, it's going to be balkanization for awhile. Apple's so called 90% marketshare today in tablets will gradually go down in 2011 and it'll be multiple platforms for awhile.
You're going to see many many iPad vs competitor post coming. Playbook, webOS tablet, Android tablet, Windows, and who knows what else. The endless droning is going to be overwhelming.
As far as Crackberry Kevin, I'm sure he's right that the Playbook will be a nice device. Just consider the hardware: dual core, 1 GB RAM. That's a lot of computational power. It'll be hard to mess it up.
However, the reasoning of a 7" tablet is a more mobile device because it can fit in a coat pocket is laughable market use extrapolation.
First, he's going to carry 2 devices? A phone and a tablet while walking around. Crickey, who's going to that be gadget reviewers? I can see 2 phones, but a 7" tablet. That's crazy talk. Second, yeah, what are you going to do when the weather is hot?
It's going to be just like Kindles. Everyone carries it in a bag of same kind. Unless I'm missing something. Are there a lot of people carrying Kindles in a big clothes pocket everywhere they go?

have you handled a 7" tablet in? I have an iPad and a Galaxy Tab and the Tab fits in my pants pocket and I walk around with it discreetly and comfortably. Now what I think when it comes to 7" is it will be so much easier for gaming. I love playing Rage and Infinity Blade on my iPad but sometimes it feels weird holding that big of a device and my iPhone 4 pisses me off cause its too small

In your pocket!!!! What kinda pockets do you have? It was tight in my winter jacket pocket and did not at all fit in my jeans... everyone around me at the FutureShop thought I was crazy to even try.

Unless of course you're trying to get a girl to ask "Is that a tablet in there or are you just happy to see me?" ;-)

I don't have either. No iPad, no Galaxy Tab. Played around with both.
But I'm taken aback by the idea that a user, the market at large, is willing to carry a phone and a tablet at the same time. That's often the difference cited between a 10" device and a 7" device. That seems absurd to me. I see no evidence of people carrying their Kindles in their pockets. Another example is books. I see no evidence that people carry paperback books around in their pockets either. Maybe one or two folks, but the market at large?
It's not to say no one does it. We're playing arm-chair analyst or CEO here and the game is the market-at-large, not this or that person. I would lay a bet down that a 7" device is not a mobile device like a handheld (4" display or so). Even the Nintendo DS XL/3D or PSP are too big to be really mobile. I see the kids do this, but I doubt the market-case that they'd carry around 2 devices around with them all the time, especially one that really doesn't fit in a pants pocket. It will take special effort to do this.
So, it's a doubly whammy. One is carrying 2 devices: your phone and a 5-7" tablet or PMP. The use case of carrying 2 devices seems pretty small to me. Then, the second device doesn't really fit in a pants pocket or a belt clip or holster.
Is screen size more important than mobility (ability to put it in a pants pocket)? History says no. If it was, would have Nintendo or Sony made a 5 or 6 inch Gameboy or DS or PSP over the last 2 decades?

It's okay, but I don't think it will compete much with the iPad 2 releasing within the next few months. I believe Apple isn't worried about Blackberry.

I think it's a joke that you can't use certain features without having a BlackBerry smartphone tethered. RIM really needs to reconsider this or they just shot themselves in the foot.

I doubt this is Apple's business strategy for the "tablet" market. They want to be premium. They want to own the top 10% of the market and most of the profits in the market. There will be $100 to $400 range that will be 90% of what an iPad is, and most people will buy a product that is 90% close for half the price over the better product at a higher price.
The DAP market is problem the only exception. And this market will gradually be eaten away by phones and PMP eventually.

RENE R. is getting pay by RIM and Verizon.
Is always, gibing promo, to them. if you want a play suck, go and get it, but you will regret it. boy.

Why even get a smart phone if you are going to put that in your pocket and then a tablet in your coat? I guess my whole thing against the tablet is I got my iPhone to carry one thing and one only.

That PlayBook could be a nice alternative, but CrackBerry Kevin's obnoxious take on it makes want to debate otherwise. "this blackberry thing is AWSUMSAUCE btw I HATE iPhone gRRRRRRRR"
He didn't always used to be that annoying, or was he?

Seems like something still early in development. I love how Crackberry Kevin wanted to try all different features on the playbook, but the RIM Rep kept saying, Oh that does not work or don't try that yet....LAME...Doubt it will be a contendor for the iPad.

Hey! but remember, they're not late to the party. They just kept everything secret like Apple does... except this Kevin guy had nothing really to try except the camera which... is it just me or did it seem a little laggy and with a very primitive looking UI.

I sense a lot of fear in here. Look at all the hate being thrown at Kevin and the Playbook. It looks really nice and way more functional than this iPad I'm typing on. Adding a camera and whatever other hardware improvements to the iPad 2 will not make iOS any more functional and I seriously doubt Apples slow OS interation will come anywhere near what we are seeing from honeycomb or this. This is reminding me a lot of a little over a year ago when Android began it's beatdown of the iPhone which hasn't let up(so many beautiful Tegra 2 phones showcased yesterday, and we thought last year was the banner Android smartphone year). Now we have Android, WebOS soon, and RIM coming hard into the tablet maket. Exciting times indeed.

How? I have iPads all around me and have typed on them. What did we see that SHOWS it is better? DId he try a brand new web page with meaningful Flash content (meaning not video or ads) did he try to type something? somewhere? Was the Elmo app meant to be for typing? It seemed to do nothing else!
As for Android, do you talk much to folks with Android phones from 9-12 months ago? How happy are they with all the new versions of Android they received? No one with an early 2010 Android phone I now has had an upgrade. It some cases it was promised but never arrived (because there is no value to the phone maker to do so) in most cases the salesguy was honest enough to tell them that the phone was stuck with 1.6 or whatever it had on it. Meanwhile I know people who are pissed at Apple 'cause their 3G (2 years and gens ago) doesn't work as fast with 4.1. The iPas is already on it's second version of the OS and the year wasn't even done yet.
Let's just wait for the iPad 2 and see what comes from Apple... you know, the Apple and RIM way where the full specs are given and units are available to the press to try out (not in a back room).

Dave. No worries. Freak is someone that trolls for a living. Most important, he is BORING!
Get that Freak? You are tired, and your genius takes are, well, STUPID.
Find other places to spew your "wisdom".

Buddy, if all you have under your belt (no penis or balls) is ad hominem attacks, go find some high school newspaper to be in. Jackass.

It would seem you've hit more than a few nerves, Freak. Dunno if that's fear, but it's certainly something unhealthy in the air.

Not completely related to the PlayBook, but I own an iPad...I also own a rooted nook Color. Over the last several weeks, I have been comparing them as tablets and as readers. The nook wins in every way so far. I prefer the size and weight of the nook...and the screen is so much better. Battery life is equal - if not better on the nook. To say 7 inches is a bad size without ever using a device of that size side by side with one the size of the iPad is not is just fanboyism repeating what Steve Jobs said - just like the Flash argument.

What do you mean the screen is so much better? The only thing I can think of is slightly better DPI.
How's text entry?

First off, I hate when people try to compare an eBook reader to the iPad. The iPad is a computer that has the iBook app. The Nook was made to be only an eBook reader. It's like comparing apples and oranges.
Secondly, I know 7 inches wouldn't work. For typing, web surfing, etc. I want to have a larger screen to be more productive, 7 inches is in fact too small for any kind of productivity.

The nook color is much more than an ereader. It is an Android Tablet with B&Ns skin and locked into thier store. Once root access is gained, you can install and use the entire Android Market.
As I said, I have been using it side by side with an iPad for a few weeks now, and in 95% of the functions, I prefer the 7" screen and the weight of the nook to those of the iPad. YMMV, but to blindly state that 7" is too small to be productive is just as invalid as if someone were to say that 10" is too big.

Can you get your hands on a Ipad vs Motorola Xoom because that's the real Ipad competitor .. not the playbook and not the Tab

Motorola doesn't have a live demo of the Xoom. As far as I've read, it's just the hardware unit. No Honeycomb software to play with. Not much to judge by right now. Maybe in another month at MWC.

And yes, let's compare a ONE year old device to a device that hasn't even launched yet. The BlackBerry PlayBook had BETTER be better than the iPad or that would be embarrassing. Let's compare the iPad2 to the PlayBook. Now that would make sense.

Hate to tell all the BlackBerry fanboys out there, but the playbook is going to be DOA when it FINALLY is released. The problem here is all the hype. RIM should not have announced a device that they could not even show WORKING, not even in the video. Even the senior head developer guy kept repeating "That's not done yet", or, "Don't worry about that." Just like that scene in the Wizard of Oz, "Don't pay attention to the man behind the curtain." Apple did not even speak a word about the iPad until the day that announced it. They had a FINAL product. I even like how the guy in the video said "People think that we're late to this game." YOU ARE.

I agree, how can you really compare a product that is released and on the market to one that is yet to ship. This is another example of tactics and marketing being used and the emotions of people who don’t like a particular company.
Fair comparison can not be made but you can use an existing product as a bench mark and say this is to be an improvement. To say one product is a killer over another when its release date is almost a year latter is not sensible, it all rights it should be better, between technology changes and lessons learned it should be, unless the manufacturer makes the wrong choices in development. But the real kick is it is irrelevant because the year old product will be updated and then should be better agin, it is a never ending cycle.
The comments made by some do not make sense, it seems that they are saying just because these new tablets are coming out they will kill Apples hold of the market and act as if they will never have a chance of getting it back. Sorry to point out the obvious, it seems historically Apple has been taking on the industry and making vast improvements and bringing success to stale product lines, which then foster a new time of change and development (better for consumers). What is not to say that in 5 years they will not do this again, its not like this has not happened before.
To say the Galaxy Tab is a good product and will be like by some is valid, to say it signals the death of the i-Pad is really just an emotional response and not useful in a logical debate.

Interesting. QNX is the best part. Remarkably little was shown. I like the Sesame Street app.... did absolutely nothing. Don't you put great apps when you are first showing such a thing? The battery indicator was very low. Why? AND you leave power management to the end???? This aint a portable or desktop! So we saw practically nothing except a fairly fast web page they had preloaded on a machine with twice the horsepower of the iPad from a year ago and 8 times the app memory. I am waiting for a REAL review, this guy was obviously a little too BB for me. It's like an iPad reviewed by a guy wearing a picture of Steve Jobs on his t-Shirt as if it was Che.
I love the line that they're not late to the party... Once again, no significant app, no actual battery tests and "we're leaving power management to last" which says it all on a machine which probably will eat through a battery pretty quick. If the 8 hours is true, it aint Apple who has to worry but Samsung.

Here's the thing. If you have a blackberry with the tiny screen you'll want a playbook, the screen will seen massive and you won't know any different.
If you have a large screen smartphone you'll want a larger tablet because a little 7incher compared to the screen on a droid or a iphone will be too why spend the money.
What I want to know is what will Rene do when it isn't winter time. There will be no slipping it into your coat pocket.
It is small enough to put on a chain so maybe Rene will do a Flav o Flav and wear it around his neck?
I'm just kidding. JUST KIDDING. So please take it like that. I think all the tablets are awesome. I hope the tablet market booms it will just only help us as consumers more.

I refuse to compare a product to my iPad in which the product is not scheduled to be released until near summer time.
Are you kidding me? RIM is still not ready with this yet? People at this point should compare the playbook with iPad2... Not the current iPad thats already been out since last April.

With a dual processor and two cameras and high def. screen you can easily compare this to the Ipad2. Why?? Because Apple is always a year behind in its offerings. The Ipad1 had no specs to it and its useless you may as well get the Iphone because it has more features that the Ipad. Apple is factually know for adding simpleton things such as a camera and coining it "revolutionary"!! Only fools believe this

just two observations, as many above also note:

  1. it is absurd to compare an April 2010 product by OEM A to a July 2011 product by OEM B, as if that is a valid comparison, when there will be a new April (or sooner) 2011 product by OEM A that will be the actual competing product in July. that kind of game is pure fanboy stuff.
  2. until actual production models are available for independent reviews and testing in six months, this is all hype. the Storm and Torch both sounded good in advance too, but it turned out they had fatal flaws and they flopped.

the real news is the delay in the Playbook's release until summer. if the new batch of Android tabs goes on sale in the next couple of months with comparable specs/features, RIM will be too late to market, except for its enterprise base.

and to use the email you need to have your blackberry near it,
thats a giant fail and a half.

Don't worry fellow ignorant fan boys, I'm sure the 4th generation iPad MIGHT have at least half the features the Playbook has.
Apple has the market lock? More like scammed.

You must really like your Playbook.......How do you like it?
Oops. Forgot. They have not been released yet.
Dumb ass!

LOL at all the fanboys..This thing mirrors Palm Webos and ALL tech critics has coined Webos the most intuitive OS available. This playbook think is by far superior in specs and OS intuitiveness. IOS is not intuitive as it is just an application launcher..This thing will have enterprise and consumers locked if its marketed right. IOS is a fail

Looks like RIM's been influenced by WebOS. In fact, it's almost like and mirrors WebOS!

Playbook pairing with a blackberry = single internet data plan = less money spent, oh yeah it still has wifi 3g and 4g , choices and options are the magical words here

It almost seems to me that people are praising decent tablet products way to much. Is it just that they want something to be better than the i-Pad and Apple? Like Steve said, the i-Pad fils a void between you smart phone and laptop, this is the same place the notebook’s were to live but did not succeed to the point where the i-Pad has.
As we all know tablet computing has been around for a very long time and no one has made it really work the way Apple has. We are seeing the same evolution with tablets that we have seen with smart phones over the last couple of years. Apple has made a ground breaking product and the competition is taking their lead and trying to play catch up and surpass them by providing other features and knocking the Apple product.
I am not against fair competition or someone taking an idea and trying to improve it, that is what progress is all about, nor do I think Apple is a god like company that will be king of the mountain for ever. I do however agree with their approach to the development of technology and also feel that just praise is due when warranted not just because you hate the competition or want to see it fail.
The IMO the 7” tablet is too small to really fill the gap between smart phone and laptop/desktop. As for features like HDMI, and other ports, if I am in a position to need to use such features then why just not bring along the laptop, the purpose of a table, to me, is to be minimized, quick access to content and streamlined for use but larger than you smart phone. I think in general people are attempting to put way too much into a tablet.

Pricing to me is huge... If it is the same, or more than the iPad, why would I take a smaller device for the same price... I stick with iOS because of the ecosystem.. iTunes just works. No matter how you slice and dice it, iTunes is simply the best way to manage media content.

The interface looks very "fussy" compared to the iPad which will make it more difficult for the beginner to become comfortable with. It seems to be responsive but doesn't really seem any more responsive than the iPad 1, never mind the forthcoming iPad 2 which will almost certainly have more RAM and probably a faster CPU/GPU.
Size would be a deal breaker for me - the iPad is perfect as a tablet imho. Someone earlier in this thread said that RIM only made it 7" for portability - are you serious? They made it 7" because they couldn't compete on buying power and therefore cost, and also because they are terrified at the prospect of going head to head with the iPad. By making it smaller they hope to be different enough to not be compared directly, or at least to have a slightly different slant on the tablet market.
Apps will be a huge issue for RIM I think because there simply wont be enough of them to compete with the iPad initially (or ever imho). Developers, I beleive (and I am one) will find playbook development to be less satisfying than iOS development as the latter is just so polished and mature now.
Finally, the iOS ecosystem is rolling like a juggernaut and RIM (and others) will have much more difficulty competing with this than any specific hardware product. This will only get more pronounced as Apple start to bring their data centre online. This is on the assumption that the data centre is going to be related to iOS devices and cloud services etc which seems likely.
So, good effort RIM but in my opinion your fight is just beginning. A bit like an MMA fighter finally getting the gloves and the shorts - now he's got to step into the ring! Ding-Ding!

Great review, especially the video. Points out pros and cons of each device with no bias. Really, you know if you're an Apple fan you'll choose the iPad 2.