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© iFixit Electronics Production | April 20, 2011

What do we find in RIM's BlackBerry PlayBook?

RIM's BlackBerry PlayBook has been the topic of conversation of many geeks' dinners seemingly for ages -- and it's finally here! In true iFixit fashion,we donned our screwdrivers, prying tools, spudgers, and other mysterious-sounding tools to find out what kind of sauce they put inside this enchilada.
The PlayBook was well-received by our techs. It took us very little time to pop off the rear cover; delving further inside, we were able to remove everything without much hassle. We awarded the PlayBook a 7 out of 10 Repairability Score, with the 'Book being marked down for having a metal frame glued to the display glass, as well as for requiring the user to take out the motherboard and speaker assembly in order to replace the battery.



Teardown highlights:

- Unlike the iPad 2, no heatgun is necessary to access the PlayBook's innards. All it took was a simple plastic opening tool and some prying.

- Once inside, we were a little surprised to see that the guts of the PlayBook were actually housed in the display assembly, not the rear case like most other tablets. That's unfortunate from a repairability standpoint, since simple repairs -- like replacing the battery -- require the motherboard to be removed.

- Thankfully, all screws holding the motherboard in place were of the good ol'fashioned Phillips #00 variety, so you won't need any hard-to-pronounce screwdriver to remove them.

- A small magnetic dock connector for charging on the bottom edge of the PlayBook is reminiscent of one of our favorite features of Apple's laptops -- the MagSafe connector.

- The PlayBook has a 20 watt-hour battery, which is a bit smaller than the iPad 2's 25 watt-hour unit. Of course, that doesn't mean the PlayBook will get worse battery life, considering it has a significantly smaller screen than the iPad 2.

- The cameras are pretty hefty: its 3 megapixel front-facing camera crushes the iPad 2's VGA camera, and the rear-facing camera has a 5 MP sensor which shoots 1080p video.

- One drawback is that the cameras and control buttons are all attached to one assembly, making replacing the power button or volume control pretty costly.

- We noticed that there are no less than 8 chips in the PlayBook belonging to Texas Instruments, which is sure to translate to a decent amount of dollars going to TI with every PlayBook purchase.

Thanks to some great help from Chipworks, we were able to idenfity most of the large packages on PlayBook's motherboard. Here's some of the key players:

- Elpida B8064B2PB-8D-F 1GB DRAM & the TI OMAP4430 1GHz dual-core processor buried beneath

- Texas Instruments TWL6030 Power Management, WL1283 WLAN/Bluetooth/FM, LMV339 Comparators, and SN74AVCH4T245 4-Bit Dual-Supply Bus Transceiver (to name a few)

- SanDisk SDIN5C2-16G 16 GB NAND Flash

- STMicroelectronics XTV0987 5 MP mobile imaging processor

- Wolfson WM8994E audio codec

- TriQuint Semiconductor TQP6M9002 802.11a/b/g/n + BT front-end module

- Bosch Sensortec BMA150 Digital 3-axis accelerometer

- Invensense MPU-3050 3 axis gyroscope

We've heard from the internets that the PlayBook's OS/software is really its limiting factor. We can't comment on this, since the PlayBook asked us for our BlackBerry ID when we turned it on -- which we didn't have, and didn't want to go through the trouble of creating one. However, the machine is well-sorted internally, and the hardware RIM included is definitely nothing to scoff at. People who decide to take the PlayBook plunge can also be reassured that they could replace their shattered glass with some elbow grease, should a family member mistakenly use the PlayBook for a game of frisbee golf.

Want more? It can be found here.
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Note: All images © iFixit / Images have zoom function.

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