RIM’s PlayBook Will Need Better Battery to Compete With Apple’s iPad

A new report from a Kaufman Bros. analyst this week suggests that RIM’s upcoming PlayBook tablet will need a significantly better battery if it has any chance of competing with Apple’s already hugely successful iPad. Shaw Wu states in his report that he would be “very surprised” if the PlayBook manages to match the 10-hour battery life of the iPad, and that without “significant engineering,” it would currently struggle to even reach the 6-hour battery life of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab.

Wu notes that Apple has an advantage over RIM, as the Cupertino-based company designs many of its own semiconductors, including the A4 processor that powers the iPad and the iPhone 4. However, Apple’s advantage doesn’t just stop there – the company also makes its own battery chemistry and software that allows for power optimization, that competitors like RIM cannot compete with.

Wu suggests that another problem for the PlayBook’s battery could be Adobe’s Flash, which has already proven to be an issue for Apple’s latest MacBook Air by significantly reducing the notebook’s battery life when installed.

Although some may see Flash support on the PlayBook, and other devices, as an advantage over the iPad, others will prefer to have more superior battery life. Wu does suggest, however, that Adobe is working to improve its Flash: “It should be no surprise to anyone that our checks indicate Adobe is furiously working on reducing Flash’s consumption of resources to make it a viable mobile platform vs. HTML5 that both Apple and Google are moving toward.”

The best the PlayBook can hope for at present, Wu’s sources claim, is to match the 6-hour battery life offered by the Samsung Galaxy Tab, although even that would require “significant engineering,” Wu said.

This most recent report from Wu is a follow-up to another report he issued last week, in which it was revealed to investor’s that the PlayBook’s battery offers just a “few hours” of uptime. RIM was quick to respond to this, however, with a statement that claims the PlayBook would offer “superior performance with comparable battery life.” The BlackBerry maker points out that any testing of the PlayBook’s battery outside of RIM to date would have been performed using pre-beta units, built without power management implemented. RIM also assured consumers that it is “on track with its schedule to optimize the BlackBerry PlayBook’s battery life.”

Will the PlayBook’s battery life offer anything close to that of the iPad? We’ll have to wait and see when the device launches, which is expected to be in the first quarter of 2011. Will you buy a PlayBook if its battery only lasts for 6 hours? Would you prefer Flash support or a more superior battery? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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