BlackBerry PlayBook tablet
The PlayBook is the new tablet computer offering from Research in Motion, maker of the famous BlackBerry business smartphone. RIM's sweet spot is the profitable enterprise user market, and the PlayBook has security features that corporate users know and love. But the PlayBook has a number of great mainstream consumer features too, such as front and rear facing cameras (for video capture and conferencing), Flash support, and genuine multitasking.
The PlayBook has Wi-Fi connectivity, but to connect over 3G networks the PlayBook has to be tethered to a BlackBerry smartphone (Bluetooth or cable) to use as a modem. Security features kick in when the connection is broken, as the PlayBook will then automatically wipe all secure business information. RIM has indicated that future models will have 3G and 4G connectivity as well as Wi-Fi.
The PlayBook continues a recent trend in tablets for a 7 inch touchscreen (compared to the iPad's larger 9.7 inches). It is only 10mm thick, weighing 400 grams.
BlackBerry has taken its own path on an operating system, using its proprietary QNX system instead of the more popular iOS (iPad only), Android (numerous tablets), or even Windows 7. This means that one of the main drawbacks of the PlayBook is its lack of a well populated app store. It does have some apps available, but it will be hard to get developers to write apps for another platform (QNX) that is used by only one tablet. The other criticism in post-release reviews is that the PlayBook does not have a native email application - it has to be tethered to a BlackBerry smartphone in order to email (unless you want to use webmail only). This is planned to be be fixed in a software upgrade, but not until February 2012.
According to the PlayBook website, the PlayBook has:
- 7" LCD display, 1024 x 600 screen resolution
- 5.1" x 7.6" x 0.4" (130mm x 194mm x 10mm)
- 0.9 lbs (400g)
- Wi-Fi® 802.11 a/b/g/n
- On-screen keyboard
- True multi-tasking
- 3 MP high definition forward-facing camera
- 5 MP high definition rear-facing camera
- 1080p HD video; H.264, MPEG4, WMV HDMI video output
- Micro USB and Micro HDM
- 1 GHz dual-core processor
- 1GB RAM
- Symmetrical dual-core processing
- Reliable BlackBerry Tablet OS, powered by QNX technology
- Supports POSIX OS, SMP, Open GL, BlackBerry® 6, WebKit, Adobe® Flash®, Java® and Adobe Mobile AIR
- Out-of-the-box compatibility with BlackBerry® Enterprise Server
- Seamless pairing for a secure window into your BlackBerry® smartphone
- 3G access via existing BlackBerry smartphone service plan
Release date and pricing
The PlayBook went on sale in the US on 19th April 2011, and in Australia on 20 June 2011.
Pricing in Australia matches the iPad 2's Wi-Fi only prices: $579 for 16GB, $689 for 32GB and $799 for the 64GB model. As with the iPad 2. The price in the US is now being discounted, and it remains to be seen how this will impact Australian prices.