With the BlackBerry Z10 and Q10 being pretty much available to everyone and their hyper-connected dog, its natural to wonder what’s next. Well, it is rumored that BlackBerry will be coming out with a new tablet later this year, along with a new flagship smartphone dubbed the “Aristo”. Despite the latest news which may lead you to think that BlackBerry is done with tablets, I believe otherwise. While it’s easy to dismiss Thorsten Heins by thinking of the future as an extension of the present, he is thinking about the future in a fundamentally different paradigm of mobile computing. This may or may not include tablets in a significant way. Just because buggy whips were a good business model at one time, doesn’t mean it will always be.
Anyway, when talking about this mythical new tablet, this begs the question, “How will it be better than the original PlayBook?”.
With the BlackBerry software tackling its own new set of goals, BlackBerry’s hardware team must surely be working equally as hard. We’ve compiled a list of not what we expect to see in the new BlackBerry tablet (PlayBook 2?), but what we’d reasonably like to see.
1) Wi-Fi AC: Years in the making, this new wireless standard aims to improve upon the currently prevalent Wi-Fi N in almost every single way. This new standard aims to push more data transfer to the 5GHz band, adding more bandwidth, more streams, which translates into a more awesome Wi-Fi experience. This hardware will make wireless display streaming, like the kind you see here, much more possible using technologies like Miracast. BlackBerry has the chance to show they are on the bleeding edge by being the first to make tablet with a Wi-Fi ac chipset.
2) NFC: While the 4G LTE PlayBook comes with an NFC antenna, you can’t use it. However, this is even better than nothing. With BlackBerry Tap using NFC, we’ve seen easy device-to-device transfers can be initiated by bumping them together. Tablets are no exception. I’d like to see NFC on the next BlackBerry tablet for sure. This will allow the functionality of many NFC-enhanced apps, BlackBerry Tap, and countless software possibilities.
3) Autofocus Cameras: Despite seeming like a no-brainer, the previous PlayBooks shipped with only fixed-focus cameras. While I am fully aware of the ridiculousness of taking a picture with a smartphone, people still take pictures with tablets. Also, no matter which way you look at it, a badly focused picture is always a crappy picture. If the tablet is to truly be as useful as it can be, I’d like see autofocus capability on both cameras (at the very least on the rear camera though). While the effect of slightly blurry video chatting is not an issue with the currently poor state of video chatting image quality, the day may soon approach when 30fps 720p video chatting becomes commonplace. Plus, taking self-shots doesn’t have to mean garbage fisher price images.
4) 1440×2560 Screen Resolution: About half a year ago, BlackBerry decided to help out its developers and stick to a certain screen resolution of 720p. For a tablet, however, this resolution would not be competitive with other tablets out there. It would then make sense to simply double the horizontal and vertical pixels of the screen, allowing apps to scale perfectly. For either a 10″ or 7″ tablet, this resolution should be adequate to stay in the spec race while not giving developers a hard time.
5) Wireless Charging: It’s been around for ages and it’s time for BlackBerry to make the leap. While potentially a gimmick, wireless charging has its conveniences. This can be especially true for BlackBerry’s typical users who are largely on the go and would rather not have to worry about wires Incorporating this technology into the next tablet would also reaffirm BlackBerry’s commitment to providing fully featured products.
I believe that software is really going to play the key role in the success of future BlackBerry devices, but that isn’t saying that the original PlayBook hardware is good enough for a current tablet. With adequate memory, a decent chipset, and some items from this list, the first BlackBerry 10 tablet has a fighting chance to be the tablet to beat this year.