We're really glad to see that RIM has a solid implementation for this stuff, but that still doesn't detract from the fact that you need to own a BlackBerry to get all this functionality. Even cheap Android tablets and the PMPs have these capabilities off the shelf, and it's really inexcusable for the company to expect non BlackBerry users to switch for the sole purpose of this basic stuff. Since the device doesn't have a PIN -- at this point at least -- it's not looking too good for users of other mobile platforms, and we're curious about how it'll end up working should RIM change its tune. We understand that there are possible security issues (and let's face it, the company still caters mainly to the enterprise), but it just isn't acceptable for this thing to not have native apps for such no-brainer functions. Yes the browser is pretty awesome and can load Gmail just fine, but the BlackBerry's claim to fame is its stellar messaging services and it seems kind of unholy that it still has a big ole BlackBerry logo up front but can't do any push services without another dedicated device.
We're hoping that at some point between now and the time this launches RIM will see the writing on the wall and the PlayBook will get the stuff in due time (See update below). For now though, see the bridge in action in our hands-on video from the show floor.
Update: Well, it looks like we may have spoken too soon. An interview with Ryan Biden (the Senior Product Manager of the PlayBook team) just posted to the Inside BlackBerry blog confirms that "there will be a native e-mail, calendar, contacts, all those similar kinds of apps as the platform evolves." The interesting stuff starts around 3:40.
Joshua Topolsky & Paul Miller contributed to this post