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BlackBerry Playbook onsale from 19 April

Rosemary Hattersley | March 22, 2011
Best Buy taking preorders for US$499 Playbook tablet.

LONDON, 22 MARCH 2011 - RIM has finally put a date and a price to the BlackBerry Playbook tablet. It will cost $499 for the 16GB Wi-Fi version, $599 for the 32GB model and $699 for the 64GB Wi-Fi version. Best Buy is taking orders from US and Canadian customers from today. The Playbook will ship on 19 April. RIM will also sell LTE and HSPA+ versions of the BlackBerry Playbook, but prices and dates for these have not yet been revealed.

The Playbook has a 7in WSVGA capacitive touchscreen with a resolution of 1024x600 pixels. It runs off a 1GHz dual-core processor and has 1GB of RAM, plus up to 64GB of internal memory. As with most tablets, the Playbook will have a GPS accelerometer, a six-axis motion sensor and a digital compass. It runs the BlackBerry Tablet operating system and is capable of 1080p high-definition video capture thanks to its 5Mp main camera. It also has a secondary 3Mp camera and an HDMI out port.

Where some tablets such as the HTC Flyer and the Apple iPad 2 are looking to be very entertainment-centric, RIM intends to play to the strengths of the BlackBerry brand as a secure messaging platform. Communications and contacts will be handled by the Playbook owner's BlackBerry smartphone, with secure access hooking up the two devices. This means that personal data will remain on the BlackBerry handset and not compromised by being synchronised to the Playbook. Instead, the Playbook will effectively be a large screen for more comfortable browsing and viewing items.

As well as a BlackBerry browser and apps written specifically for its larger, 130x194mm dimensions, the Playbook will have solid multimedia credentials. These include MP3, AAC and Windows Media Audio, H.264, Mpeg4 and WMV video, Bluetooth 2.1+ EDR, stereo speakers and a processor capable of symmetric multi-processing.

UK pricing for the Playbook has not yet been announced. The 7in BlackBerry tablet was first demonstrated to select press back in October 2010 and has subsequently been demonstrated at CES and Mobile World Congress.

Competitors to the Apple iPad 2 have been slow to launch. The Motorola Xoom tablet went onsale in late February but others have been thin on the ground, with most expected to launch in May or June. Yesterday, Asus announced its Android 3.0 Honeycomb tablet would go onsale in Taiwan this week.


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