Sunday, January 1, 2012

PlayBook FAQ: Questions from New PlayBook Owners

I've received a lot of questions from folks just getting started with using the PlayBook so I thought I'd pull together a quick FAQ based on the questions people have been asking me.  I may do some longer posts to dive into detail on some of the topics if you are interested, just let me know.  Also if you have a question feel free to add a comment to this post and I'll do my best to help out.   If you are looking at some apps to get started with check out my previous post.

Q1: How do I transfer files to my PlayBook from my PC or Mac?
A1: There are 4 basic ways to do this.
  1. Wired: Simplest method.  Use the USB wire to connect to your PC or Mac, and your PB should show up as a disk drive (Drive Z:) and you simply drag and drop files as you would any disk drive. If it doesn't show up automatically, try loading your BlackBerry Desktop Manager and the PlayBook should pop up as a Z drive. 
  2. Wireless:  To do this you need to do some setup work once but once setup it's very handy to be able to wirelessly via wifi  move files without wires anywhere on your home network.  The setup is basically done by going into your PlayBook Settings.  Selecting "Storage & Sharing" and then turning "Wi-Fi Sharing" ON.    In most cases this will all you need to do.  However, if you have customized your home network with a unique Workgroup name or are establishing additional Password protection, you will need to click on Properties and modify the workgroup name to align with your home networking Workgroup.
  3. Desktop Manager:  You can also use the BlackBerry Desktop Manager to transfer files, and synchronize files with your PC.  Fairly straight forward to do this, but personal preference is to be able to do this without having to load another piece of software. 
  4. DropBox: is basically providing a cloud solution to access files.  I love DropBox as I can access key files from any browser anywhere. 

Q2.  What video formats should I use for best viewing on my PlayBook? 
A2.  The official BlackBerry documentation states a wide range of video formats, and the 2.0 release will likely add several more.   The receommended format is in .MP4 (H.264 Video + AAC audio) and to take advantage of the 1080p output to HDMI, you'll want 1920 x 1080 resolution even though the tablet itself won't be able to take full advantage of that resolution.

Q3.  Any recommendations on how to convert videos for the PlayBook?
A3:  There are several video converting tools out there for the PC and Mac.  On the PC, my favourite is FreeMake Video Converter which is a free piece of software that has a simple UI, and a specific PlayBook setting so you don't need to fuss with the settings.

Q4: How can I make my battery last longer?
A4: There are basically 3 things you can do.
  1. Reduce Brightness on Screen (Click the Battery and use the slider to reduce brightness)
  2. Change the Multitasking Behaviour (Click Settings, The General and Select Default or Paused) - Personally I always have mine set at Showcase as this is 100% true multi-tasking which I love. 
  3. Turn off wifi or bluetooth connections if you are not using them (click on the respective icons on top right to turn on and off)
Q5: How do I get access to the 2.0 OS?
A5: RIM has stated that the software upgrade which will be done wirelessly will be available in February 2012 so you can just wait... OR... If you can't wait and want access to the new OS and Android apps you can visit the beta site to install the beta version.  However like any Beta, you need to be willing to put up with bugginess and challenges.  If you are not a power user, I suggest just waiting until February release. 

Q6: How do I synchronize iTunes with my PlayBook?
A6: Use the BlackBerry Desktop Manager to synchronize what files you want to have on your PlayBook. You can also easily stream your whole music library with Orb as I've discussed in an earlier post.

Q7: I am having challenges with setting up BlackBerry Bridge.  Any advice?
A7: This can be a challenging issue, but my advice is to ensure that you have the latest OS on your BlackBerry (you will need 5.0 or better) and the latest versions of the Bridge software and your PlayBook OS.   You may need to remove the devices already paired and reset both devices if there is a problem.  If the problem persist you are likely going to need to call RIM tech support. There is also a decent post by RIM detailing how to leverage bridge fully

Q8: How do I reset the device?
A8: If you can still access the device you can press the battery icon and select reset.  If it is completely frozen, then hold down the power button on the top for 5 seconds or so and it should reset.  

Q9: How do I create an Icon right on my homescreen to access a  website without having to launch the browser?
A9: Simply go to the website in the browser, then select the star with the + sign and select Add to Home Screen

Q10:  How do I re-arrange, delete and regroup the icons on my home screen? 
A10:  Hold down the icon and you will be able to do all the above. 

Q11:  How do I copy & paste on the PlayBook?
A11: Hold down the text and use the two anchors to select the text you want to copy.  More detailed explanation can be found here.

Q12: Where else can I get help on using my PlayBook?
A12:  the official RIM site has several good "how to" type articles and a knowledge base which you can search.

So there are some of the questions I've been getting, but if you have other questions feel free to ask them and I'll do my best to get back to you.  As a few of my friends are owners of small businesses, I plan on writing up a post about how to use the PlayBook for small businesses in the near future too.

Finally, I stumbled upon this pretty good "getting started" with the BlackBerry PlayBook video which goes over several of the items I've mentioned along with some basic navigation must-knows.