Jun 27, 2011

Mafia II Benchmarks - Lenovo ThinkPad W520 and HP DV6T Quad Edition

Several benchmark videos with different settings. I did not do a benchmark with less than the "slightly" above medium settings. I'm sure this game will run very smoothly on those settings.

Lenovo ThinkPad W520 Specs:
  • 8GB RAM
  • Intel Core i5-2540M @ 2.6GHz (up to 3.3GHz) 2 cores, 4 threads
  • Nvidia Quadro 2000M with 2GB DDR3
  • 1600x900 resolution (native)
HP Pavilion DV6T QE Specs:
  • 6GB RAM
  • Intel Core i7-2630QM @ 2.0GHz (up to 2.9GHz) 4 cores, 8 threads
  • AMD Radeon HD 6770M with 1GB DDR5
  • 1366x768 resolution (native)

1366x768, Slightly Above Medium Settings, NO APEX PhysX

  • W520
    • Min 3.4
    • Max 125
    • Average 47.3
    • Rank C
  • DV6T QE
    • Min 6.2
    • Max 125
    • Average 26.9
    • Rank D

1366x768, Max Settings, NO APEX PhysX

  • W520
    • Min 13.3
    • Max 111.1
    • Average 48.2
    • Rank C
  • DV6T QE
    • Min 11.2
    • Max 142.9
    • Average 27.4
    • Rank D

1366x768, Max Settings, APEX PhysX ON

  • W520
    • Min 3.2
    • Max 71.4
    • Average 20.4
    • Rank D
  • DV6T QE
    • Min 4.5
    • Max 55.6
    • Average 12.6
    • Rank E

Native Resolutions (W520 1600x900, DV6T QE 1366x768), Max Settings, APEX PhysX ON

  • W520
    • Min 2.4
    • Max 100
    • Average 17.9
    • Rank E
  • DV6T QE
    • Min 6
    • Max 88.3
    • Average 15.4
    • Rank E

Overall you can see that the Lenovo ThinkPad W520 offers a much better experience with Mafia II. It seems that physics are also handled better. These benchmark results surprised me a lot due to the fact that in previous benchmarks the HP DV6T QE has been the winner.

Download Mafia II - mafia2game.com

Jun 25, 2011

Cooler Master Notepal Ergostand - Cleanup (dust accumulation sucks)

I love my Cooler Master Notepal Ergostand. It's been a while since I got it and have never done a proper cleanupt. If you don't use an air duster often you will have to manually clean it.

Initially I got the cooling mat for the Lenovo X201 Tablet to give the system a nice angle and for that it worked very well.  Now I use it on my HP DV6T QE.  The HP DV6T QE does get hot when playing games and doing resource intensive tasks.  I recommend getting some kind of cooler mat to prolong the lifespan of your system.  FYI it never worked too well with the X220T.

Anything with a fan will collect dust.  Heat is the enemy of pc components and a good cleanup will ensure better performance.


Jun 23, 2011

Lenovo ThinkPad X220 Tablet - Batteries (6-cell and 19+ slice)

The X220T comes with a Lenovo 52+ 6-cell battery.  I got the slice along with the review unit.  Today I'll go over some of the details about each battery.

52+ Battery (6-cell) Notes:
  • It comes with the X220T.
  • The battery goes "deeper" into the X220T's body (this came a bit dirty).
  • It does not go the full width of the system leaving a gap for the power and vent.
  • It adds an angle to the X220T which makes portrait note taking really weird.
  • The battery can be used as a carrying handle.
  • When in landscape mode the battery does give an elevation that is pleasant.
  • I get an average of about 5 hours with my usage (about medium settings)

19+ Battery Slice (6-cell) Notes:
  • I assume that I would get an extra 5 hours of battery life for around 10 hours of computing (it's a 6-cell and no I have not perform a test)
  • Hardware wise there's a power port, battery meter, speaker holes, latch crease, accommodation for the 52+ battery, connector to laptop, drain holes, lock and release latches.
  • No it won't give you a "flat" angle in portrait mode (it does however improve it)
  • This is not a docking station
  • It doesn't add a lot of "weight" to the X220T.
  • You can use the slice without having the main 52+ battery

Other notes:
  • I get much longer battery life with the X220T's 6-cell (about 5 hours) than with the X201T 8-cell (3 to 4 hours).  Average battery life will change depending on many things including the amount of usage.
  • No 9-cell battery in existence as far as I know.
  • The ThinkPad UltraBase Series 3 is the docking station for the X220T (website)

I hope this answers some of your questions.  Thanks to Andy for pushing for me to checkout the slice battery which has been sitting in the box since the "unbox" video.


Note: Purchases through Amazon referral links help me afford Ramen noodles and continue blogging about tech.

Jun 19, 2011

HTC Flyer - Pen Input

The only reason to get the HTC Flyer is because of pen input. It's the one thing that sets this tablet apart from all of the other tablets. But it is good enough to actually replace pen and paper?

Why I like the tablet:
  • One system that can do "everything"
  • Can carry tons of books and media
  • All important notes in one single device which replaces multiple notebooks

Regarding the pen
If you live in the USA you must pay an extra $80 to get the pen.  (dumb idea).  With that said the pen is an active digitizer via N-Trig.  This is an electronic device that uses a AAAA battery.  An active digitizer can do a lot more than the crappy styluses that you will see on older tablets and the "capacitive pens" on some devices like the iPad.  The pen can do "hover", pressure sensitivity, erase and highlight text.  You cannot do that with a "stylus".  The form factor is actually smaller than I thought it would be.

Why the digital book/note taking system is cool
Who likes carrying books, notebooks, and tons of paper based junk?  No one.  With digital you can carry everything in one device.  It's a genius idea.

Form factor
The Flyer is a 7 inch tablet and that means that it is big enough to actually let you write stuff (unlike cell phones) and it's not too big like the iPad.  Carrying any tablet in your pockets is just stupid, so you might need to get some kind of carrying case for it.

Digital note taking
When you write notes digitally you will have a tendency of writing text bigger than with classic pen and paper.  So... it's something to get used to and if you make deeply elaborate notes the Flyer might not be good enough.

Click to enlarge

Get a case
If you get a Flyer you will drop the system guaranteed.  The smooth surface can be slippery and your 7 inch tablet will be broken in record time.  I have dropped it 3 times already and I'm glad I have carpets.  I highly recommend getting a case.

Amazon - HTC Flyer Cases

Silent note takins
The pen + glass surface does make a bit of noise.  Even if you tried not to make noise you will do that.  It's one sure way of standing out in meetings.  When it comes to silent note taking you cannot beat pen and paper.

Palm rejection
If you get a system with touch + pen you will always have issues with accidental palm clicks.  It is important that you make sure the pen is closer to the screen first.  Once the tablet recognizes the pen it will begin rejecting your palm.

Continual drawing problem
The system sometimes continues to draw when it should "hovering".  I have seen this several times and it's super annoying.  To fix the problem you need to turn the system off and then turn it on.

Hand written text quality
Digital note taking cannot be as smooth as pen and paper.  N-Trig devices usually cannot beat Wacom based tablets.  The Flyer's N-Trig input shows it.  Also, when you rotate the screen from landscape to portrait, or vice-versa, the text is re-sized and it doesn't look that good.

Automatic sync to Evernote
Evernote is one of those programs that wants to work everywhere and with the Flyer it does.  It's neat that I can go in and write notes and automatically have the same note in my laptop and cell phone.  This is good stuff.

Social stuff
This tablet is full of it.  There's facebook, email, and twitter integration.  The Sense UI stuff works well with it.

Dream "search" feature
The problem with analog pen and paper is the shortfall and inability of search.  Digital note taking should fix this, but it doesn't with the Flyer.  Good ol text like this blog post typed with a keyboard is searchable.  Something like a "Ctrl+F" for handwritten digital notes would be sweet.  MS OneNote actually does allow you to search your handwritten notes.

HTC made a brave attempt by adding digital note taking on the Flyer.  The tablet by itself is good, but the pen input is not good enough.  The software is too "premature" and the overall system is not reliable enough and $580 is a bit too much.

Jun 18, 2011

Lenovo ThinkPad X220 Tablet - Pen Input

Sorry for the blurry cam

All the Wacom tablets that I have tested reflect the classic "more accurate around the middle" and "accuracy diminished closer to the edges".  The Lenovo ThinkPad X220 Tablet is not any different. Calibrating your screen does improve the precision.

  • The system is not great for portrait mode due to the battery side being elevated.
  • Landscape mode works well and might be a great thing for the upcoming Windows 8.
  • Sometimes there is a bit of "jittering" when the pen is close to the bottom or top edges.
  • Expect to not get calibration "right" from the beginning.

Two Button Digitizer:

Amazon - Digital Note Taking Devices

Jun 15, 2011

Lenovo ThinkPad W520 and HP DV6T QE - Switchable Graphics

I love the idea of switchable graphics and when Nvidia began doing it I thought they had struck gold. Why is switchable graphics important? It allows both battery saving and a performance mode.

Battery Saving Mode
By enabling the integrated graphics you can add a lot of hours to your system. If you are a mobile user and need long periods of battery life this is key.

Performance Mode
When you need to do something intensive like rendering video, or playing 3D games the discrete graphics can help you have a smooth experience.

With this HP laptop you have the option of having everything running either on Intel HD graphics, or discrete AMD graphics. As you can see on the videos the screen flickers when switching modes. If you are running certain programs it might give you a blue screen, so make sure to quit programs before doing that.

There are different ways of switching modes.  Usually you can right click on the desktop and click on "Configure Switchable Graphics" and then assign the GPU.  Another method is by unplugging the power source.

Lenovo ThinkPad W520
The Lenovo system allows the all Intel HD graphics, all discrete Nvidia graphics, or both at the same time. I think their technology is ahead of AMD's. There's a slight flicker and the graphics mode change. By default the system has an "auto-select" mode which tries to determine which graphics to use for that application. The first time you run something 3D it might not work, but the second time it will.

You can customize the modes by accessing the Nvidia Control Panel.  Again just right click on the desktop and you should see it.

Switchable graphics rule and Nvidia's Optimus Technology is a much more seamless experience. 

What is the best (insert system type here)?

I have been asked "what is the best xyz system?" many times. To that I answer usually with a "it depends on what you do or want to do". It's not an easy question to answer and I know we all want the best for our money. So how can we determine what is the best?

Do not use tech specs to figure out "the best"

The trap of the latest tech specs being the best system is not the key to finding the right device. It's obviously part of it, but not the most important thing. When you buy something because it's the "latest" then you can usually guarantee feeling like crap when out of nowhere a brand new system comes out.

There's always something "new" which can be considered as "better". Getting a system based on latest tech specs is not the way to spend money wisely.

The solution?
Figure out what you need the system to do first, and then get a system that does that. The best system is based on what your needs are.  In a way you are "filling up a hole" in the road.  You are fixing something that will now let you do things.  If you get systems based on the idea of "needs" then you have a higher chance of getting the right system.

Some of the systems currently at my house:
  • Lenovo ThinkPad X220 Tablet - Best for portable system with long battery life for typing, note taking, and some media.
  • Lenovo ThinkPad W520 - Best for intensive applications, color precision tasks like image and video editing, quietness and reliability.
  • HP Pavilion DV6T QE - Best for 3D intensive tasks like gaming, all around performance at home.
  • BB PlayBook and HTC Flyer - Media consumption, alternative to alarm clock, book and web reading, secondary device to save battery life in main system, camping!

Companies make different products for different needs/tasks.  Some products might have similar capabilities (aka can play movies) but they all fill different use scenarios.  I hope this give you a few ideas on your search for the right devices.

HTC Flyer vs BlackBerry PlayBook - Software Part 1

Some software comparisons that hopefully help you decide which one you like more.

Automatic Rotation
  • Flyer
    • Seems to be a bit faster
    • Only orients to a main landscape and a main portrait (where buttons are located)
  • PlayBook
    • Slower automatic orientation (by a bit)
    • Can do automatic rotation on all sides

Home Screen
  • Flyer
    • This rotating roulette HTC Sense UI stuff is neat, and runs at all times
    • It's also easy to check your apps and add interactive gadgets
  • PlayBook
    • Seems a bit more plain when compared to the Flyer
    • You can add shortcuts to categories (you cannot add your own categories... bummer)

  • Flyer
    • I love the search on the system.  I can find my apps or go straight into the browser.
    • Search allows me to find apps (yes you will eventually add a lot of them)
  • PlayBook
    • There's no "search" option on the PlayBook.  (maybe in a future update)
    • I want search because looking for apps can be tedius

  • Flyer
    • With settings you can customize and personalize a lot of the Flyer.
    • The settings menu looks a bit "cheap" and "unpolished"
  • PlayBook
    • The PlayBook has well organized and "clean" setting options

Rotation Lock
  • Flyer and PlayBook
    • Both can do automatic rotation lock by checking on the settings

  • Flyer
    • While the Sense UI roulette seems like multi-tasking it's NOT app multi-tasking.
  • PlayBook
    • The PlayBook has the better multi-tasking, it's great stuff.

  • Flyer
    • The Flyer's keyboard seems a bit more "cluttered"
    • You can access special symbols and numbers by pressing and waiting
    • There's a vibration feedback that occurs every time you press a key
  • PlayBook
    • The keyboard feels extremely "clean"
    • With a press of a button you can view your symbols and numbers
    • Support for various languages right on the keyboard
    • "pop" sounds when key presses occur (volume can be reduced through settings)

Check the latest prices at (and support my efforts):

Jun 9, 2011

Benchmark - Lenovo ThinkPad W520 and HP DV6T QE - Unigine Heaven 2.5 DX11


  • W520
    • FPS: 16
    • Score: 404
    • Min FPS: 6.9
    • Max FPS: 33.6
  • DV6T QE
    • FPS: 19.1
    • Score: 480
    • Min FPS: 10.3
    • Max FPS: 44.4

This is one of the toughest benchmark programs I have seen. It will put any system to the test.

System Configurations
Lenovo ThinkPad W520:
  • 8GB RAM
  • Intel Core i5-2540M @ 2.6GHz (up to 3.3GHz) 2 cores, 4 threads
  • Nvidia Quadro 2000M with 2GB DDR3
  • 1600x900 resolution (native)
HP Pavilion DV6T QE:
  • 6GB RAM
  • Intel Core i7-2630QM @ 2.0GHz (up to 2.9GHz) 4 cores, 8 threads
  • AMD Radeon HD 6770M with 1GB DDR5
  • 1366x768 resolution (native)

Very intensive. It would take a very high spec system to run this benchmark smoothly.

Download and run at your own risk:

Jun 8, 2011

Benchmark - Lenovo ThinkPad W520 and HP DV6T QE - fr-025: the.popular.demo


  • Lenovo ThinkPad W520 - 36,220 pop.stones
  • HP Pavilion DV6T QE - 71,246 pop.stones

This is a demo scene that was released back in 2003, it's the dancing fr-025: the popular demo.

System Configurations
Lenovo ThinkPad W520:
  • 8GB RAM
  • Intel Core i5-2540M @ 2.6GHz (up to 3.3GHz) 2 cores, 4 threads
  • Nvidia Quadro 2000M with 2GB DDR3
  • 1600x900 resolution (native)
HP Pavilion DV6T QE:
  • 6GB RAM
  • Intel Core i7-2630QM @ 2.0GHz (up to 2.9GHz) 4 cores, 8 threads
  • AMD Radeon HD 6770M with 1GB DDR5
  • 1366x768 resolution (native)

Demo Settings:
  • 1024 x 768 resolution
  • Multisampling/Anti-Alias on quality 2
  • 16:9 aspect ratio
  • Benchmark enabled

This demo should run on just about any system out there. If you feel like it download it and try it out on your current system and then compare your scores.


HP Pavilion DV6T QE - MSI Kombustor 2 Benchmark

Kombustor Settings And Results:

  • Normal Preset at 1280x720
  • Score: 1784 (25 FPS, 130000 ms)
  • OpenGL 4
  • Graphics score: 1295 points (21 FPS)
  • PhysX score: 4306 points (60 FPS, 254 SPS)
  • Combined score: 3997 points (13 FPS, 235 SPS)
  • PhysX version: 90428 (PhysX CPU)
  • Res: 1280x720 (fullscreen)
  • Anti-aliasing: 4X MSAA - PostFX: ON
  • FPS: min=13 max=65 avg=25
  • Max GPU temp: 72C

This is a fairly intensive benchmark.  Run at your own risk. What scores do you get?

System Configurations
HP Pavilion DV6T QE:
  • 6GB RAM
  • Intel Core i7-2630QM @ 2.0GHz (up to 2.9GHz) 4 cores, 8 threads
  • AMD Radeon HD 6770M with 1GB DDR5
  • 1366x768 resolution (native)

Download Kombustor at:
Geeks 3D - MSI Kombustor 2.0.0 Released, New OpenGL 4.0 Benchmark (PhysX, Tessellation)

Lenovo ThinkPad W520 - Hardware And Software

The W520 is Lenovo's mobile workstation system. The system that I received might be a trade show system.  It has a Core i5, but I would recommend getting the i7.


  • Every port you can dream of
  • 6 to 7 hour battery life with 9-cell and on Intel HD graphics
  • Very quiet fan
  • Amazing and stable "switchable graphics" through Optimus
  • Best keyboard ever
  • Beautiful screen quality (95% RGB color gamut)

  • Get an i7 and not the i5 CPU
  • Speakers can be louder
  • Slow HDD on the system I got
  • Designed more for working (not really gaming)

You know a ThinkPad the moment you see it. The system has the roll cage so you know that the system will take a beating and continue working.

I was able to see details inside of images with dark colors. It's something that I have not seen before. There are HD (1366x768), HD+ (1600x900) and FHD (1920x1080) screens.  The viewing angles are gorgeous and there's no glossy BS.  Probably the best screen I have seen period.

Color Calibrator
This is something that I wish I had received. The X-Rite color calibrator is an option that you can add. Basically if you are a color precision type person this laptop has the ability to give you very "spot on" colors.

What's inside?
  • Core i5 or i7 CPUs Sandy Bridge line
  • Nvidia Quadro 1000M or 2000M with 2GB DDR3 (optimus technology)
  • Up to 32GB RAM (gotta give Lenovo a call for that one)
  • 1 Mini PCI-E
  • 2x Half Mini PCI-E

Ports and other
56K modem, 1x always on USB, Display Port, VGA, 2x USB3, USB+eSata, MMC card reader, Firewire, ExpressCard Reader/34, SD card reader, headphone+mic combo jack,Ethernet, Optical drive, HD camera, Finger print reader, Illumination light, docking station options.

This is quieter than the X220T. I'm very impressed at how silent it is even when running intensive applications. It puts my HP DV6T QE to shame.

Optimus Technology
It's amazing to see programs running on two different graphic cards at the same time. I can run everything on Intel HD graphics, or everything on Nvidia Quadro, or assign programs to run with the specific graphics medium.   It's crazy and surprisingly stable.  My HP's switchable graphics forces everything to run either in Intel HD, or AMD graphics.  The HP also has given me a few blue screens, the Lenovo in the other hand is super stable.


BlackBerry PlayBook - Software Update 1.0.5 Features

New features!
  • Status bar app update notifications
  • Charging Icon
    •  Can change brightness
    • Turn Off, Stand By and Restart buttons
  • Can now charge when system is off
  • Facebook App
    • Messages and Chat
    • Share videos
    • Search friends, everyone and pages
  • New Languages (UK English, Spanish, French, Deutsch (German right?)
  • Improved Video Chat
  • Headphone AUDIOBOOST
  • In App Payment
  • Wifi hotspot detection

More info:
Google Search - PlayBook 1.0.5

Amazon - BlackBerry PlayBook

HP Pavilion DV6T QE - Turn Off Touchpad White Light

The light surrounding the touchpad comes in handy at night, but sometimes when you are watching videos it's better to turn it off.

How to:
  • Press and hold FN and then hit Spacebar

The touchpad remains active so you can still use it. If you want to turn off the touchpad just double tap on the upper left corner.

Jun 7, 2011

Many Systems (Lenovo ThinkPad W520, X220T, DV6T QE, PlayBook)

What can I do with all these systems... well let's see some of the things that make each unique.

  • The W520 is what you want for color precision, stability, and reduced noise.
  • DV6T QE for gaming at a good price
  • X220T for power, portability and touch + pen input
  • PlayBook for a digital companion and not waste battery life on your main system
I had a few "mess ups" on the video, but that's because thoughts get crossed inside my brain.  :-)   Hopefully the video gives you a few ideas on screen quality, fan noise, performance and some of my thoughts.

Demo Scenes:

Jun 6, 2011

BlackBerry PlayBook - Touch Gestures

There are many gestures with the PlayBook.  Here's some of the gestures that you might not be aware of.

  • Wake Up PlayBook - Touch bezel and slide to opposite bezel (fixes that hideous sleep/wake button)
  • Show/Hie Keyboard - Touch the lower left bezel and slide finger diagonally
  • Quick Settings - Touch the left or right upper bezel and slide finger diagonally
  • Change To Adjacent App - Touch the left or right bezel and slide to screen center

The lower right corner seems to be unused, so I bet with a firmware update we'll get new features.

Amazon - BlackBerry PlayBook

HP Pavilion DV6T QE - Back Home + My Customer Service Experience

About a week and a half ago I shipped my HP DV6T QE to HP for repairs. The system's fan was producing some rough sounds and I had to get the system checked. The laptop made it back home today and so far it has performed as it was designed to.

The video has most of my thoughts.

I think it's rather hideous having to give them serial numbers and model numbers, and my name, phone number, email and shipping addresses again. I bet the ordering and customer service databases are not working with the same database. They should synchronize their databases and just ask for the phone number that was used when the system was purchased. This would avoid repeating stuff again.

More notes at:
HP Customer Service Experience (HP DV6T QE)

Jun 4, 2011

HTC Flyer vs BlackBerry PlayBook - Camera Comparisons (Image and Video)

I'm not a big fan of taking pictures or video with tablets. I think it's a bit silly.  Anyways for those interested in that information the video shows front and rear facing cameras in action in a shaky and windy scenario.  Different lighting conditions will render different results.

HTC Flyer
I have noticed the Flyer tries to adjust settings to make things better.  What you end up seeing is variable results and changes along recordings.  You can see this in action in the still images below.  The Flyer's MICs seem to capture everything and don't discriminate or try to reduce noise at all.

5MP Rear Facing (2592x1520, 902KB)
 This looks good...

and a second later it changes.

1.3 MP Front Facing (1232x720, 292KB)
Front facing image and video will be flipped

BB PlayBook
It seems that the PlayBook can capture more detail in both rear and front facing cameras.  On the audio department it seems that it tries to reduce noise, or might have a different capture angle.

5MP Rear Facing (2592x1456, 1.2MB)

3MP Front Facing (1048x1152, 501KB)

Again I'm not a big fan of image taking with tablets.  I would rather use my Sony HDR-CX150 camera for video.  For images a good DSLR camera will be the best.  But since I'm comparing these two tablets which one will be the best for video and images capture?  I think the PlayBook can capture more detail and therefore the winner.

Note: Picasa resizes the images so you won't see the full images.

Check the latest prices at:

HTC Flyer vs BlackBerry PlayBook - Ports and Expansion

The latest trend in tablets is the reduction of ports and expansion slots. I can agree on removing unessential ports, but I can't agree on removing all of them.

HTC Flyer
The HDMI + micro USB port of the Flyer is interesting, but in my thoughts not very functional. The Flyer ships with a micro USB cable and does not include the HDMI cable (bummer!). The HDMI can come in useful for connecting to bigger screens.  The bad thing is that since it's a combo connection you cannot charge and output video at the same time!  The Flyer does have capability of expanding memory through the microSD card slot.  That slot is not that accessible though.

BB PlayBook
You will get a Mini HDMI, micro USB and charging contacts ports with the PlayBook.  There's no expansion slot (sucks!).  One advantage of the PlayBook's separate outputs is that you can access them at the same time.  Basically you can charge your PlayBook while outputting video.  With the micro USB you can sync files and charge the same. (same as the Flyer)  One unique thing about the Playbook is the charging contacts which allow you to connect some accessories (cable, stand) for faster battery charge times.

I feel that both of these devices need to marry each other and get one product with all the features.  The PlayBook being marketed as a "business" tablet should have microSD card slot, but it doesn't.

I'm not a fan of the single port concept...   for power users it can be a deal breaker.

Check the latest prices at:

BlackBerry PlayBook - RIM Convertible Case (don't waste $50)

$500 for a tablet is not cheap and it makes total sense to buy a case to protect your system.   This will be the third case that I have tested with the PlayBook.  The first one was that crappy soft shell, the second is was the rugged OtterBox Defender, and this is the Convertible Case.  These are my thoughts.


  • Looks good!
  • Doesn't add that much weight
  • Protect your PlayBook against the elements!
  • Convert the case to hold your PB like a stand

  • The flap doesn't really "close" (no magnets at all)
  • Those shitty buttons are flat
  • $50 is a lot for a case

For $50 this is a ridiculous case.  The cons outweigh the positives.  What drives me completely insane is the buttons that are flushed which makes it hard to identify at night, and it seems like you are bending the entire case to press the buttons.   $50 is just too much for this case, if anything it should be $5.  You are better off buying the OtterBox Defender Case.

I hope this post saved you time, money, and frustration.

Official BlackBerry PlayBook Convertible Case Website

Amazon - Blackberry PlayBook

Jun 1, 2011

BlackBerry PlayBook - OtterBox Defender Series Case (for field environments)

After the failed soft shell case I decided to order two different cases.  One of them is the convertible case and the other was the OtterBox case.  The OtterBox case arrived first and the video shows a few things that you might be interested in knowing.

Size and Weight
The first thing that struck me about the case was how much bigger it was than I imagined.  The images that I saw showed it but I never felt that the case was that thickness.  So as you can see on the video it adds volume to the PlayBook.  Along with the increase in body volume the case also adds weigh.  The once less than 1 lbs PlayBook will now feel heavier.

Shell + Rubber Layer

The OtteBox will some amazing protection.   The inner shell will protect the PlayBook from very strong "hits" and the rubber layer will bring protection from daily "manhandling" and oils.  I knocked it with my fist a few times on the video so you can get the idea. :)

Clear Plastic Layer
The screen plastic layer does not affect the touch sensitivity that much. I was expecting way worse, but it really surprised me.  The bezel gestures will also continue to work.  The layer does add a bit of graininess but it's so small that you won't notice it after a few minutes of use.  (don't be paranoid about it)

Ports and Buttons

Although the case is a bit big it does not block any of the ports.  The rubber layer does cover the ports, but you can easily access them when you need to.  You will also be glad to know that the buttons work well with this case. (better than that POS soft shell case).  The power button is not perfect... RIM why did you make it so small?

Outer Plastic Shell
A little bonus is the ability to use the "clip on" plastic shell as a stand.  There are several adjustments and you can get the PlayBook to be very vertical.  The thing that changes the angle is a bit hard to snap out the first few times, but then it works well.  Once you are done you can clip this plastic shell to the rest of the OtterBox, which adds another layer of protection.


The OtterBox is definitely a "field" type case.  The OtterBox will be good for any type of activity were your PlayBook may get scratched, dropped, or thrown into dirt.   For going camping this might be the case to get.

Note: don't put tablets in your pockets... it looks silly.  With the added volume of the case you definitely won't be putting them in there.


HTC Flyer vs BlackBerry PlayBook - GPS and Compass

When you need to use maps GPS is the way to go.   You can find your way through unknown territory and succesfully navigate yourself to your desired destinations.

HTC Flyer
The Flyer has GPS and compass.  At first I thought this could easily become my car GPS tablet... but the only problem is that you need a wifi connection to download map data.  The Flyer by itself won't compete against car GPS devices.  The Flyer needs a wifi hotspot, or maybe some tethering with an internet capable cell phone.

BB PlayBook
No compass or GPS with the PlayBook.  The included Bing Maps application will utilize wifi for maps, and that's not that precise.

GPS and compass are neat little features but fairly useless without the wifi connection.  The HTC Flyer's brother called the HTC Evo View 4G will be a better system for map tasks.   I wish the PlayBook had GPS because it would be useful for "business" tasks.

Check the latest prices at:

HTC Flyer vs BlackBerry PlayBook - Pen Input

I dream of getting rid of paper via a tablets.   Basically with pen input you could have an electronic notepad to write notes, sketch, highlight text, and other pen functions.  Doing pen input on a cell phone size device is not going to work, but with a tablet size device it might work well.

HTC Flyer
The one thing that sets this tablet apart from the rest of the tablets out there is the pen input.   The HTC Flyer's N-Trig based input is really good. The $80 that you pay is a bit of a bummer, it should come included! If you get the Flyer you must get the pen.  The pen runs on a "AAAA" battery so it's an electronic device.  The two buttons offer quick erasing mode, and text highlighting.   Most apps do not support the pen input, but those apps that do do a fine job at it.

BB PlayBook
The PB doesn't really offer pen input. To get that working you would need a "capacitive pen" which emulates finger touch. It's not going to be precise like the HTC Flyer's active digitizer.  This is one feature I wish the PlayBook had and it would be close to my "dream tablet".

This is basically a "no contest" scenario and the Flyer clearly wins. The only reason to get the HTC Flyer is for the pen input.  If you get the Flyer but don't get the pen you might as well get a cheaper Android tablet.  For those that think they will get precise input via those "capacitive pens" well keep dreaming.  I think touch + pen is something neat that will get more attention in time.

Check the latest prices at:

FYI Apple made a pen input device called the "Apple Newton MessagePad".

Crazy stuff huh?

Other systems with pen input ($1,000 or less)

The big boys (More than $1,000):