RIM Unveils Its PlayBook Tablet

As expected, RIM on Monday unveiled its tablet at the company's 2010 DevCon conference. RIM co-CEO Mike Lazaridis channeled Apple CEO Steve Jobs with a sort of “one more thing” moment, saving the announcement for the end of his keynote address. Lazaridis described the PlayBook (not the rumored BlackPad) as “the first professional tablet.”

The PlayBook will not run the company's recented released BlackBerry OS 6. Instead, as also expected, it will run a POSIX-based QNX OS called the BlackBerry Tablet OS. RIM acquired QNX earlier this year.

Here are the specs of the device. Much of the hardware specs are pretty much the same as most of the tablets, sans iPad, that we have seen announced of late (incl. the same 7" screen).
  • 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 cameras (3 MP front-facing, 5 MP rear-facing), supporting 1080p HD video recording
  • Video playback: 1080p HD Video, H.264, MPEG, DivX, WMV
  • Audio playback: MP3, AAC, WMA
  • HDMI video output
  • 802.11n wi-fi
  • Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR
  • microHDMI, microUSB connectors
  • Open, flexible application platform with support for WebKit/HTML-5, Adobe Flash Player 10.1, Adobe Mobile AIR, Adobe Reader, POSIX, OpenGL, Java
  • Sized at 5.1″ x 7.6″ x 0.4″ (130mm x 193mm x 10mm)
  • Weight: less than a pound (approximately 0.9 lb or 400g)

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Also as was rumored, the initial version of the PlayBook will not ship with built-in cellular connectivity. Instead, users need to pair the device with their BlackBerry phones (via Bluetooth) when out of range of wi-fi. The company's press release says it "intends to also offer 3G and 4G models in the future."

The PlayBook is expected to ship in early 2011 for the U.S., and internationally in Q2 2011. No pricing was announced.

Also announced, but overshadowed, in Lazaridis' keynote: in-app payments for BlackBerry apps, a BlackBerry Advertising Service and the opening of BBM as a social platform.

Finally, there was a later announcement from a partner of RIMs.  It was from a company that has a lot invested in seeing alternatives to the iPad succeed. Amazon.com announced it would be supporting the PlayBook with a Kindle app.  An Amazon spokesperson said “We’re very excited to add the new BlackBerry PlayBook to that list. As with our other Kindle apps, the BlackBerry PlayBook app will be free and will incorporate our WhisperSync technology so you can seamlessly switch between devices.“

 Watch RIM's first video on the PlayBook: