BlackBerry PlayBook: Not for the Majority, Definitely for Me

An unboxing or review this post is not. There are lots of those on the web. And if you do get to read them, chances are you’d be disappointed. Do a quick Google search and you’ll find people either love or hate the PlayBook. It has been judged as a dead-on-arrival (to the market) product for two main reasons: 1) the absence of Blackberry’s killer app which is native email and 2) it went against the grain with a proprietary OS. Naysayers believe that this is a formula for failure, in a world dominated by iOS and Android.

Thus the title of this post, which pretty much sums up the next few hundred words. But if you’re into the details, read on…

My BlackBerry PlayBook Tablet standing on a Convertible Case original accessory.

Why did I get a PlayBook just weeks after it was launched in the Philippines despite the bad rap it’s been getting? My reasons:

1. My wife has a 1st gen iPad. I wanted my own tablet so that I wont have to borrow from her and a 2nd iPad just didn’t make sense. Having a second different device would be like opening a whole new universe for my wife and I to explore.

2. I wanted a small tablet, one that’s truly portable and discreet. In the photography world they say that the best camera is the one you have with you. Same with tablets. My PlayBook in it’s black convertible case looks like an innocent Moleskin. In contrast, aptly decribes the large-ish iPad as ostentatious.

3. Why would I aspire for a tablet that a gazillion other people already own? I bought a tablet so that I have something to use, not to belong in society.

These first three reasons scratches the Galaxy Tab and Iconia Tab off my list of options. More reasons…

4. PlayBook’s hardware rocks! Definitely a great platform to build software and apps on. Plus: 1080p HD cameras, more pixels per inch (ppi) than an iPad, HDMI output, GPS, Bluetooth (duh!) and stereo speakers (double duh!).

5. The software, while not revolutionary, is right for me. I like the bezel gestures, multitasking and Flash capability. The productivity apps  (Adobe and Word, Spreadsheet and Slideshow to Go) are great to have. Even the small things like orientation lock (to prevent the screen from unintentionally and irritatingly twisting from portrait to landscape and back) is heaven sent. I find the OS intuitive, and I bet you will too, if you just keep yourself from thinking of the iOS as de facto.

6. BlackBerry Bridge makes sense to BlackBerry phone owners. It’s RIM’s answer to the PlayBook’s intentional omission of native email, PIM and 4G. It enables email and PIM on my Bold 9700 to be accessed. And with Internet tethering, I don’t need a separate SIM (and mobile plan) for my tablet.

7. Lastly, I do not give a hoot about a million and one nonsense 3rd party apps. I don’t need them garbage in my tablet. Photo editing, casual games, currency converters, horoscope, calorie counters  and what nots are mere novelties. I mainly use a tablet for browsing, social networking, communication, media consumption, and probably office productivity, in that order. PlayBook gets the job done.

While it’s wrong to count chicks before the eggs hatch, the horizon looks good for RIM’s tablet: upcoming Android support, native email and PIM, and substantial firmware updates to further refine the product. More substantial apps are trickling in, such as EA’s amazing Dead Space for Playbook that just came out. Chances for a 4G capable model is slim, but who knows? These improvements should open up the PlayBook to a wider audience. Due to slow sales, the PlayBook will most likely be abandoned by smaller nuisance app developers, but I do hope the core apps (i.e CNN, Yahoo Messenger, Kindle, etc.) still get released and will continue to be supported with updates. My request to RIM: please don’t give up on the PlayBook like HP did with their Touchpad.

And so to wrap up: a typical person is an iPad person, no doubt. But if you can relate to what I’ve written here about the PlayBook, I suggest you give it a chance. I am solidly recommending it, especially to someone who dares to be different.

My last word may be uncalled for, but if you would allow me to evangelize to you in one sentence, heed this: Don’t be an Apple drone.


On Watches

First, let’s get this out of the way: it’s okay to love watches. It’s the only piece of jewelry a man is supposed to wear, and that’s a good enough reason to invest in a couple. Or three. Or five for that matter. Anything more is okay only if collecting watches happens to be your hobby. Otherwise, owning three to five is just about the right amount. I wouldn’t recommend having only one. Wearing the same watch every single day doesn’t make you cool because you seem pragmatic, rather, it makes you look like you’re too strapped for cash to the point of self deprivation of the good life.

I’ve read somewhere that a good rule of thumb is that your best watch should cost roughly your paycheck for three months. Some of you may think that’s too much, but again I tell you, it’s okay. Stay within that budget and you can shrug off the guilt of splurging. The great thing about watches is that they’re timeless (oxymoron?) unlike other expensive things like gadgets that quickly go obsolete or cars that rapidly depreciate and break. With care and minimal maintenance, any decent watch should last you for decades, and that my friends is one helluva ROI.

So what is a “decent” watch? Anything that’s both Swiss and mechanical falls into that category. Automatic is standard, but get a hand-would ticker if you can. Hand-would is the horological equivalent of driving stick (read: cooler). Would I recommend certain brands? To each his own, really. Though I could recommend brands and models to avoid: Tag Heuer, Rolex and Omega (which are quality brands by the way, no doubt about it). We are not communists in uniform; do you really want to own something that everybody else already has? Sorry to burst your bubble if your dreaming of spending your commission on a Seamaster.

Chronograph or Diver’s watch? I say neither, unless you race at BRC or dive for corals in Bohol. Let’s not be pretentious folks; forget that steel Submariner you’re saving up for. Most of us spend our weekdays in cubicles, or are in sales, or wear a corporate barong everyday to the office. For us, there is the “senator” watch: that of thin profile and leather strap.

A good example is the Certina DS-1. The best thing about the DS-1 is its superb value. I’m 100% sure it fits anyone’s 3-month salary budget rule, unless you’re on minimum wage.

The Certina DS-1 tucks neatly in the cuff of your office long sleeved shirt; discreet yet elegant.

Another handsome senator watch to wear at the office is the Tissot Visodate. It’s in the same price range as the DS-1 and is therefore a bargain.

The Tissot Visodate: a full serving of class with just a dash of retro

If I get into meetings with a middle manager wearing a quartz I tend not to take him seriously. A firm handshake with eye contact leaves a good and lasting first impression, but if I see a funky DKNY on your wrist with its second hand jerking you’ve lost your cred immediately and completely. Avoid quartz like a plague; life’s too short wear a crappy watch.

But this rule has an exception: The Casio G-Shock. It’s the one quartz watch you’re allowed to own. In fact, everyman should have one. It’s like saying everyman should have a pair of jeans; it’s one of life’s essentials. Hitting Boracay this long weekend? Going on a photo walk? Having booze and barbecue at a friend’s backyard (or garage)? The G-Shock is your appropo timepiece.

G-Shock: the only quartz watch worth wearing

Think choosing a watch is difficult? It’s quite simple, really. It’s just like buying a pair of sneakers, the best pick would be one that’s comfortable and looks good on you at the same time. Also, remember that only you will be wearing the watch and no one else. So when deciding, only your opinion matters. Don’t consider anyone else’s. That includes your wife/girlfriend, your closest buddy or even me with this blog. A paradox, eh? Most importantly, it has to feel right when you wear it. How does “right” feel? You’ll know it when you feel it.

So go ahead and spend that bonus on a nice piece. The gratification of having a tiny, living mechanism on the wrist is truly an inexplicable joy. Letting everyone know how much you’re worth and that you’re a man of substance without saying a word is just an extra perk.

Kangaroo Windscreen Washer Fluid Quick Review

I felt I had to do a quick blog post on this as it had been raining the past several days. Think of it as my little contribution to public service.

This rainy season, it’s best to always check your washer fluid tank and make sure it’s full. Manila’s streets are grimy to say the least, and when you’re driving in the rain, your glass will get muddy in no time. You will need the washers to help the wipers out; the extra fluid will dissolve the grit and lubricate the wipers for a cleaner clean, and to help prevent scratching your glass. At the very least, plain tap water from Maynilad or Manila Water will do. No “deep well” water please, it will clog your washer system. I personally use filtered water, such as what can be bought from village water stations.

An even better solution is to use washer fluid, such as Kangaroo. This Made in Korea product is currently my choice for helping to get the grime out of your windshield this rainy season.  I’m assuming it has some kind of car safe detergent, as well as a rain repellant additive. While it’s meant to go in your washer tank undiluted, I personally dilute it: 1 part Kangaroo to 3 parts water. From experience, using this product pure causes the wipers to shudder.

With the Kangaroo-water mix, the wipers clean your windscreen more efficiently. At the same time the fluid improves visibility by leaving a rain repellant coat on the glass, thus making the rain water bead and quickly drip off.

At the price of a Big Mac Meal (Php149.50 to be exact), Kangaroo is your cheap ticket to safer driving in the rain. Go get a a bottle or two at True Value stores.


As you can see, my bottle is already two thirds empty due to the continuous rain this week.