How to Fix a Bricked BlackBerry PlayBook Tablet


Let’s face it, a bricked PlayBook can truly be an inconvenience, and cause you anxiety.

Although there are a number of reasons that could cause your PlayBook to be bricked (i.e. unable to boot), one solution you can consider and that you can perform yourself, is an OS repair using BlackBerry Desktop Software.

Here’s how you can perform this DIY repair (call it a last ditch effort before sending it to RIM for repair/replacement).


What you’ll need:

Must Haves:

  • Latest BlackBerry Desktop Software
  • PlayBook USB Cable
  • Fast, Stable WiFi Internet Connection
  • *Patience and Presence of Mind*

Optional but very handy/useful:

  • Full Backup of your PlayBook saved on your Computer
  • BlackBerry PlayBook Rapid Charger
  • Uninterrupted Power Source
  • Pen and Paper to document your steps

Assumptions:
Before performing the procedure outlined below, we’re assuming that your PlayBook refuses to boot even after:

  • You’ve tried plugging in (charging) your PlayBook for hours, thus eliminating an empty batt as the problem
  • You’ve tried restarting your PlayBook several times already by pressing the Power Button on for 10 full seconds (this will either bring up the restart/standby/turn off options, or turn off/shut down your PlayBook if there’s really a problem with your OS).
  • You’ve also tried performing a hard reset by pressing the Power + Vol Down + Vol Up buttons all the same time for 10 full seconds

The Procedure:

Before you proceed with these steps, know that this will totally wipe your PlayBook clean (i.e. OS, Settings, Mail/Calendar/Contacts Data, Apps Installed, and Saved Files). You may want to ask yourself again:

  • Are you sure you’ve exhausted all other efforts to get it to start/boot but have not succeeded?
  • Are you sure you want to do this?
  • Can you spare time (possibly 2-6 hours) to do this?  Actual time may vary depending on your situation (i.e. internet speed, backup file size, success rate)

If you’re sure you want to proceed, then follow the steps below:

  1. Close all unnecessary programs (including those running in the background) on your computer to ensure that your computer will have all the resources Processor, Memory, and Internet bandwith all available for de-bricking your PlayBook.
  2. Make sure your PlayBook is fully charged. If you need to, plug it in (despite refusing to boot, and/or the absence of the flashing green led light) for an hour or two. The repair/update process takes a while and the USB cable does little in charging your PlayBook even when attached to the computer. If your PlayBook’s battery is depleted in the middle of the process, you may have to repeat the process and in effect spend more time than initially estimated.
    [If you have a PlayBook Rapid Charger, you can possibly skip this step, because you can simultaneously connect the Rapid Charger and the USB cable at the same time.]
  3. Open up BlackBerry Desktop Manager on your Computer and plug in the bricked PlayBook using the USB Cable. It will bring up a window that says “BlackBerry Desktop Software cannot communicate with the connected device.” and present you with options to “Retry“, “Update“, or “Cancel“.BB Desktop Software cannot communicate with the connected device 580x264 How to Fix a Bricked BlackBerry PlayBook Tablet[If it doesnt bring up this window when you plugged in your PlayBook via USB, consider unplugging and reconnecting, possibly to a different USB port, until you hear that familiar sound your computer uses to indicate a newly connected device.]
  4. On the popup window, click “Retry” first, to allow it to attempt to reboot your PlayBook for you. Be patient as it will take a while.
    [Note: There have been some cases wherein clicking on "Retry" actually gets your PlayBook to boot. We suggest you give this a shot.]
  5. If after 10 mins and your PlayBook still won’t boot, unplug and reconnect it again until it opens up the same window described and shown in Step 3.
  6. When presented with the choices to Retry, Update, Cancel, click on “Update” this time. BlackBerry Desktop Software will open up a new popup window “Confirm device repair“, and forewarn you of what you’re about to do.
    Confirm device repair 580x215 How to Fix a Bricked BlackBerry PlayBook Tablet
  7. Click on “Repair”. This will then open up a popup window that says “Checking for BlackBerry Tablet OS Updates“. Duration will depend on computer resources and internet connection, but it should take only about a minute.
    Checking for BB Tablet OS updates How to Fix a Bricked BlackBerry PlayBook Tablet
  8. In some cases, you may be prompted/asked to “Reset your device.” before BlackBerry Desktop Software can proceed in checking for the OS Updates. Just follow the instruction provided [as shown in the picture below].
    Reset your device How to Fix a Bricked BlackBerry PlayBook Tablet
  9. Once BlackBerry Desktop Software completes the OS Update check, it will report the latest officially available OS for your PlayBook, and prompt you to either “Get update” or “Update later“.
    An updated version of BB Tablet OS is available How to Fix a Bricked BlackBerry PlayBook Tablet
  10. Click on “Get update.”  This will bring up another confirmation popup window forewarning you of the duration, and giving you the option to “Install update” or “Cancel“.
    Updating your BB Tablet OS can take up to an hour 580x151 How to Fix a Bricked BlackBerry PlayBook Tablet
  11. Click on “Install update” if you are totally sure. BlackBerry Desktop Software will begin the download process, which can take up to hours depending on your internet connection speed/quality. This is also where your patience will be tested. Seconds will feel like minutes, and minutes like hours. Be patient, but be alert and observant.
    While downloading, you may want to write your observations/notes, so that in the event that you (hopefully not) need to contact RIM and describe what you’ve already tried, it will all be accurately captured/documented.
    [You may also want to be ready to take pictures of any unusual error messages, especially those not shown in this article]
  12. Once it’s done downloading, BlackBerry Desktop Software will then automatically extract and install the OS onto your PlayBook, and then connect to the PlayBook to reboot it.
    Loading system software 580x316 How to Fix a Bricked BlackBerry PlayBook Tablet
  13. Connecting to the device 580x355 How to Fix a Bricked BlackBerry PlayBook TabletIf everything proceeded well, your PlayBook should boot up and present you with the same setup options as when you first got your BlackBerry PlayBook (i.e. Language/Country, Date/Time, WiFi Connection, Legal Notice, BlackBerry ID, Tutorials, etc.). Set these up.
  14. Once you’re done setting up, your PlayBook will then automatically check for partial OS updates for your Region and download the update via WiFi. Duration will depend on the size of the update and your WiFi internet connection quality/speed. Again, be patient — after all, you’re almost done!
  15. After downloading the OS updates for your Region, your PlayBook will reboot. This should take about 3-5 minutes. After that, you should have your working BlackBerry PlayBook. Enjoy!

Additional Notes:

  • Assuming that the reason for your PlayBook getting bricked was a corrupted OS (which can result from a number of reasons, like apps installed/uninstalled over the period of time you’ve used it, or the number of documents and media files you’ve copied/deleted, etc.), then the clean install of the OS should fix your bricked PlayBook.
  • There are other possible causes as well, like hardware failure based on normal wear-and-tear from usage, or if you’ve dropped your PlayBook, etc. IF the reason for your PlayBook getting bricked was caused by a hardware problem, then this procedure will almost certainly not fix it. If after following these steps, your PlayBook remains bricked, contact RIM, or the Carrier/Retailer where you got your PlayBook, and ask for Support. This is where your personal documentation (i.e. personal account of what happened and steps taken) will come in handy.
  • You probably noticed that we were very particular with charging your PlayBook prior to (and if you have the Rapid Charger, even during…) the Repair Process. The reason behind this is that you’ll never really know if/when you’ll need to repeat the process outlined above several times. The OS Repair/Update procedure seems to eat up more power than your average, day-to-day PlayBook use, and can thus drain your battery faster. If your battery drains in the middle of the process, like it did with one of our Web Editors*, this can affect the OS Repair/Update Process, and necessitate another attempt, after charging the unit.

 

In case you’re wondering what one of our Web Editors experienced, we decided to include the details for your reference.

  • Two unsuccessful repair/update attempts on a slow/intermittent wifi internet connection eventually drained the PlayBook battery on the third attempt (which was already on a much better/stable wifi internet connection).
  • The third attempt might have worked, if not for the totally drained battery.
  • He realized something went wrong when the BlackBerry Desktop Software was connecting to the PlayBook, and returned the following error message:
    The desktop is unable to connect to the device 580x358 How to Fix a Bricked BlackBerry PlayBook Tablet
  • He then realized that the battery had been drained when the PlayBook prompted him with the Battery Charge symbol (shown below) as he attempted to manually reboot the device.
    On PB Battery Charging Symbol How to Fix a Bricked BlackBerry PlayBook Tablet
  • Because of that, he had to keep the PlayBook plugged in to the PlayBook Rapid Charger while connected via USB to the computer for a fourth (and eventually successful) attempt.
  • The drained battery in effect took up 4 more hours in total for the process, because the PlayBook apparently refuses to “Check for OS Updates for your Region” (described in Step 14) unless the battery is above 20% (see image below).
    On PB Battery Level Critically Low 580x396 How to Fix a Bricked BlackBerry PlayBook Tablet 

Although we sincerely hope you’ll never have to “use” these steps, we figured it would help reduce the anxiety and additional stress it may cause you as you look for the solution among the bits and pieces of tips and comments spread all across the internet for fixing a bricked PlayBook.  If you need further assistance, leave a comment on this article, or post a note on the BlackBerry Empire Forum.  We’re here for you.

Comments

    • author says

      Thanks Michael!
      Of course, I do hope we all won’t have to deal with this, especially when the much anticipated BB10 OS for the PlayBook comes out.
      Hopefully, these problems are lessened, if not eliminated, on BB10.

    • author says

      Thanks Geof!
      Been wanting to come up with this one, and other tutorials, for quite a while now.
      I know that expecting perfection from a device/OS is close to impossible. Empowering/Enabling BlackBerry fanatics/enthusiasts remains vital if we all want to get the most out of our respective BlackBerry devices. =)

  1. Dom from hell author says

    I had to do this myself, when the messaging app on the blackberry bridge quit working. This also works as in my case where the PlayBook is not bricked, but not working properly.

    • author says

      Yeah, apparently the Desktop Software is a quite useful tool when it comes to troubleshooting, among other things.
      Again, I do hope instances where we all “have-to” perform DIY fixes/updates/repairs are lessened in future OS updates. =)

  2. isaak author says

    Allan, what an amazing article. You explain the procedure with surgical percision. I will be bookmarking it for future refrence.

  3. Nick Modeste author says

    hi gud day :) an thanks alot 4 the info about the playbook..im tryin 2
    fix mines but the only thing i cant get pass’t is …my playbook is
    hook’t up 2 my laptop from USB an BlackBerry Desktop Manager is Checking
    for Blackberry Tablet OS Updates but just seem 2 keep lookin its been
    2hr now an i still see ”Checking for Blackberry Tablet OS Updates” my
    playbook keep’s blinkin with the red light ..i was thinking if there was
    a way to load the OS on the playbook with out usein BlackBerry Desktop
    Manager? i live in the Caribbean ”Trinidad & Tobago” but i got very gud Wifi an stuff ..just the getting pass’t
    ”Checking for Blackberry Tablet OS Updates” i need to move on to
    getting my playbook workin again..any help would be gr888 :) thanks
    again

    • Bert Andale Aranjuez author says

      Hello good day, thanks for the info..,i tried the steps above but my PB failed to reboot because of this reason;

  4. kang author says

    i had this “case you’re wondering what one of our Web Editors experienced, we decided to include the details for your reference.” but i have no playbook rapid charger. how can i solve my problem.
    thanks ind advance

  5. Dyan R Helmi author says

    ive bought PB rapid charger and follow all instruction, but still when my PB booting and in the middle of it suddenly off, again and again. unfinished booting

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