BlackBerry's PlayBook: A Tablet for the Non-iPad Set
The 7-inch device, which will be available in early 2011, may give the iPad a run for its money with a feature set targeting business users.
Text Size:A A A
While most of the new tablets flooding the market were designed with the consumer in mind, there's no doubt where Research In Motion is aiming with the just announced BlackBerry PlayBook: business users. The name may have the word "play" in it, but this 7-inch device, announced on Monday and available sometime in early 2011, is ready to work. While you might consider the PlayBook an iPad competitor, it isn't necessarily going head-to-head with Apple's wildly popular tablet. That's sort of the point.
The 7-inch screen walks the line between big enough and portable enough. It's less than 10 mm thick and weighs just under a pound. It has a microUSB port (something the iPad doesn't have) and the usual Wi-Fi capabilities and multi-touch screen. But here's the real shot across the iPad's bow: The PlayBook fully supports Adobe Flash 10.1. People who love Flash or rely on the use of Flash websites will find that the PlayBook is up to the task. It's also compatible with the BlackBerry Enterprise Server, which will make all those corporate IT guys and gals very happy.
This isn't Android and it isn't iOS. It's BlackBerry's own operating system. That leaves RIM with a lot of leeway in making it tightly compatible with BlackBerry phones. Dual cameras, one forward and one rear, bring videoconferencing into the mix -- the iPad doesn't even have one. BlackBerry is also pushing the high-tech envelope with a 1 GHz dual-core processor and 1 GB of RAM. That should make for some extremely speedy computing for a tablet. And you'll want that power when you start delving into multitasking on the PlayBook.
While the PlayBook can act as a standalone device, it is designed to really come to life when paired with a BlackBerry smartphone. Hook it up via Bluetooth and you can view your e-mail, calendar, documents, and other items on the comfort of a larger screen. It also allows for Internet access on the device when you're away from a Wi-Fi connection. This could be a welcome tablet for BlackBerry addicts who haven't quite given up yet on carrying laptops around. Seven inches of screen space could be enough to replace the need for a notebook.
The PlayBook won't actually be on the market until early 2011. That gives BlackBerry users a little time to contemplate adding a second device into the mix of stuff they have to carry around. It also gives developers a running start at creating apps just for the device. Expect apps to really play up the Flash angle with Web-based offerings. Pricing hasn't been revealed. The PlayBook is really geared for business users who are already in love with their BlackBerrys. You know who you are.