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BlackBerry's Playbook vs. Apple's iPad 2: Online Shopping Showdown

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Last week, we popped by the BlackBerry Playbook launch party in New York where we got to take home a shiny new Playbook tablet to try out. Cut to Sunday night and we're parked on the couch only sort-of-watching a draaaagging episode of Brothers & Sisters and surfing the web for new spring shoes. What we found is that some shopping sites work better (or work, at all) on the Playbook vs Apple's iPad 2, the other hot new spring tablet launch—and it's not just about have-Flash vs. have-not-Flash. On some sites, you can't even see all the merch or go to the next page if you're using one of these devices.

Here are some e-commerce sites we checked out last night. After hours of scouring the web, we still haven't bought new shoes for spring (yet), but, hey, at least we learned something. Mainpage and product page loads well on both tablets. Unfortunately, that first page of shoes is all you're going to get to see on the BlackBerry Playbook, since nothing happens when you click "Next" or try to move to the next page. The site functions correctly on the iPad 2. Winner: iPad 2

Luisa Via Roma: Mainpage and product pages all function well on both tablets.

Because of Flash capability, there are some visual features that are available on the Playbook and not the iPad 2—like this women's landing page, which is animated on the Playbook, but still on the iPad 2. Winner: Playbook The site loads great on both tablets, and looks equally gorgeous on both. The problem starts when you actually want to browse product.

See that pull-down category menu on the iPad 2? Well, try getting that on the Playbook. The pull-down menu shows up for the tiniest moment when you click "designer" or "category" but disappears before you have a chance at making a selection. So, pretty site, but don't even think about buying anything if you're on a Playbook. Winner: iPad 2

Topshop: Works well on both sites. Whew. Winner: Draw

Aubin & Wills: Both sites load great, with identical visuals, on both tablets. One of the gripes we have about the iPad 2 is that, within product categories on Aubin & Wills, iPad users aren't able to scroll within a frame.

For example, there are more than six dresses for sale on the site, but iPad 2 users would never know this. Playbook users are able to scroll through the other merch in the category. Winner: Playbook Both sites load well, with full functionality—note, though, that the pull-down menus look significantly differently on the Playbook. All functionality is preserved between the two platforms.

However, one gripe we have is that because of the screen size on the Playbook, the tiny text in the left column that's so important to navigating and searching on is really difficult to select on the Playbook—it took us about seven tries before we were able to get onto the espadrille page. Winner: close, but this one goes to the iPad 2 The sites load identically on both tablets, but, again, because of the tiny font size on important things-you-need-to-click-on such as as the "next" arrow and categories, it's just that much harder to use Shopbop on the Playbook. Winner: We'll call this a draw because there's more space in between the tiny text

Net-a-Porter: Any URL with hyphens in it is going to take twice as long to type out on the Playbook because, aside from /, ?, :, and ., all other punctuation appears on an alt page. Not such a big deal, though. Something we liked about Net-a-Porter functionality on the Playbook is that you can tap on a product on a category page and get a preview of what it would look like when worn—i.e. you could tap on a still-life photo of a Lanvin necklace and it would give you a preview of a model wearing the necklace. Winner: Playbook, by a hair

· Blackberry Playbook [Official Site]
· Apple iPad 2 [Official Site]