RIM Announces BlackBerry PlayBook, Targets Business Users

BlackBerry PlayBook

BlackBerry PlayBook

BlackBerry DevCon is going on right now in San Francisco and the smartphone manufacturer just dropped the biggest bombshell of all – it’s entering the tablet market with what the Canadian firm is calling the BlackBerry PlayBook.

We knew it was coming, but the BlackBerry BlackPad has been announced and now it’s got an even worse name – PlayBook!

BlackBerry PlayBook appears to be a primarily business-focused machine, though the official webpage does show EA Mobile’s popular racing game for iPhone called Need for Speed Shift!

First off, let’s get the specs out of the way:

  • 7″ LCD, 1024 x 600, WSVGA, capacitive touch screen with full multi-touch and gesture support
  • BlackBerry Tablet OS with support for symmetric multiprocessing
  • 1 GHz dual-core processor
  • 1 GB RAM
  • Dual HD cameras (3 MP front facing, 5 MP rear facing), supports 1080p HD video recording
  • Video playback: 1080p HD Video, H.264, MPEG, DivX, WMV
  • Audio playback: MP3, AAC, WMA
  • HDMI video output
  • Wi-Fi – 802.11 a/b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
  • Connectors: microHDMI, microUSB, charging contacts
  • Open, flexible application platform with support for WebKit/HTML-5, Adobe Flash Player 10.1, Adobe Mobile AIR, Adobe Reader, POSIX, OpenGL, Java
  • Ultra thin and portable:
  • Measures 5.1″x7.6″x0.4″ (130mm x 193mm x 10mm)
  • Weighs less than a pound (approximately 0.9 lb or 400g)
  • Additional features and specifications of the BlackBerry PlayBook will be shared on or before the date this product is launched in retail outlets.

* RIM intends to also offer 3G and 4G models in the future.

A couple of things stand out straight away.

Firstly there’s the screen. At 7” the PlayBook is nearly 3” smaller than the Apple iPad, though curiously it’s the same size as the upcoming Galaxy Tab from Samsung. The resolution of 1024×600 is more than reasonable. Obviously the usual multi-touch and gestures are there.

Next up is the inclusion of a 1GHz dual-core CPU and 1GB of RAM. Two words spring to mind here: fast and blazing. If the OS is up to the standard we’d expect then this should be one of the fastest tablet machines going. I’m looking for plenty of fading transitions and 3D jiggery-pokery. From the looks of the video below, we’re not going to be disappointed.

3rd on my list (yes, it’s more than a couple!) is the 1080p video recording provided by one of the two (count ‘em) cameras. You don’t need that kind of multimedia capability for a business tablet – hopefully this points to more than just a corporate workhorse.

Of course all this spangly new hardware will be useless if the OS isn’t up to the mark. Having watched the video I have to say I’m intrigued. The multitasking (did I not mention the multitasking?) looks gorgeous and does tend to remind of the way Palm had things working on its Pre smartphone. Just bigger!

An interesting feature not mentioned in the tech specs is BlackBerry Integration. Here, PlayBook owners who also use a BlackBerry smartphone will be able to pair the devices (does the Folio ring any bells here?) over bluetooth. The funky news here though, is that the user will be able to ‘…. opt to use the larger tablet display to seamlessly and securely view any of the email, BBMTM, calendar, tasks, documents and other content that resides on (or is accessible through) their smartphone.’

I NEED that on my iPad/iPhone!

I can type all I want, but all I really want to say is check out the video – it’s the only way to judge for yourself. It does look stunning.

Now I know I’m starting to gush here, and it’s not quite what you’d expect from a post on an iOS blog. So what gives?

Well, I think competition is good*. The better the competition, the better the next iPad. The better the next iPad, the better the competition and so on.

When can we get our hands on a PlayBook I hear you scream! Not for a while actually. Release is expected to be around ‘early 2011’ which is interesting in itself. Is this not when we expect to start hearing rumors and potential specs for the next iPad? Will the PlayBook have lost before it’s released?

Looking at the pictures and video, I’m not sure it will!

BlackBerry PlayBook – Preview

*I still think the name sucks!

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Oliver HaslamRIM Announces BlackBerry PlayBook, Targets Business Users