What You Need to Use the BlackBerry PlayBook

Well, obviously you need a BlackBerry PlayBook. But you won’t be able to do anything with it, at least at first, until you connect to the Internet and configure it for the first time. Here’s a list of everything you need:

  • Access to a WiFi Internet point. This is necessary to download updates to the operating system and obtain a BlackBerry ID. If you have a WiFi router in your home or office you can use that. Otherwise you can use an open connection at a library, a store, or an Internet café.

  • If you own a cellphone version of the PlayBook, you need an account with a cellular provider. Try as you might, you’re not likely to be able to connect to your friendly neighborhood cell tower without some sort of a contract.

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That’s all you absolutely need. With an updated PlayBook you can use its built-in apps. But you’ll certainly want to expand on its capabilities by loading music, video, and data files from your computer and maintaining a WiFi or cellular link for web browsing.

And so, here are some things you’ll want:

  • On-demand access by WiFi to the Internet. Once the device is set up, you don’t require WiFi, but without it you will have to use slower (and sometimes costlier) methods like a Bluetooth link to a BlackBerry smartphone with a data plan, or (on a cellular model of the PlayBook) a direct link to a cellular data plan.

  • A PC with an Intel or compatible processor running at 1GHz or faster, 512MB of RAM, a USB port (1.1 or higher), and the Windows XP SP3, Windows Vista, or Windows 7 operating system. On that system you’ll want to install a copy of BlackBerry Desktop Manager for the PC; it’s available for free.

  • An Apple Mac, a USB 2.0 port, Mac OS X version 10.5.8 or later. The version of BlackBerry Desktop Manager for Mac with support for the PlayBook wasn’t available when the PlayBook was first released, but RIM was said to be feverishly at work on it. Visit BlackBerry and see if it’s available.

  • A BlackBerry smartphone running OS 5.0 or later, including OS 6.0. Pairing a PlayBook with a compatible BlackBerry smartphone allows you access to all of the e-mail, contacts, calendar, and other information stored on the phone and also permits use of the phone as a modem to reach out to the Internet.

  • An account with the 7digital music store, the Kobo Books store, BlackBerry App World, and perhaps some other third-party sites so you can download music, video, podcasts, books, and apps.

  • Some sort of padded case for your BlackBerry to avoid scratches and damage but not so large as to make the package too big to carry in your coat pocket or purse. (You don’t want to make your PlayBook as large and cumbersome as something like an Apple iPad.)

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