RIM Reveals the BlackBerry PlayBook Tablet. It Looks Spectacular–So Far

By  |  Monday, September 27, 2010 at 1:58 pm

It’s always dangerous to judge a new tech product from a demo. It’s even more dangerous to judge one from a canned video and a features list. But here at BlackBerry DevCon in San Francisco, RIM just showed a video of its BlackPad tablet–which turns out to be called the BlackBerry PlayBook, and which the company is calling “the first professional tablet”–and revealed some of the key specs. And from what we know so far, it looks mighty cool–like “this is the most interesting-sounding iPad rival so far” cool.

Here’s the video we just saw:

Unlike the disappointingly wimpy BlackBerry Torch smartphone, the PlayBook has some, um, seriously serious-sounding specs:

  • 9.7mm thick (that’s thinner than an iPad) and less than a pound
  • 7″ touchscreen with 1024-by-600 resolution (like Samsung’s Galaxy Tab–lower resolution than the iPad, but higher dots-per-inch)
  • Dual-core 1-GHz CPU and hardware accelerated graphics
  • 1GB of RAM
  • HD cameras on the front and back
  • USB and HDMI ports (the latter of which can display a separate image from the touchscreen)
  • WebKit, HTML5, FlashPlayer 10.1, 1080p video capability
  • Tethering (at least with BlackBerries!)
  • The venerable QNX operating system, which RIM bought last year, with a software layer that gives it a BlackBerry-like feel and at least some degree of compatibility with the current BlackBerry platform.

For the moment, that’s as close to a tablet-hardware dream list as I can imagine–and while it doesn’t guarantee a thing about the ultimate user experience it surely won’t hurt.

The interface? Once again, videos can be deceptive, especially ones which, like this one, seem to show animated demos rather than the real product actually being used. And other recent RIM products–the Torch, the Storms I and II–have been more impressive in theory than in reality. But the PlayBook sure looks promising–and that’s more than you can say about the majority of iPad rivals announced or rumored to date.

RIM didn’t say anything about pricing (I can’t imagine it’ll be dirt cheap) and is vague on a release date–“early 2011” for the U.S. and the second quarter for other markets.

Lots more thoughts to come, and I’d love to hear yours–I hope to get a close-up look at one before the conference is over.


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9 Comments For This Post

  1. Todd Says:

    Any mention of battery life? Thinner and lighter than the iPad is no good if it means crappy battery life.

  2. Harry McCracken Says:

    Good point. No, no mention of battery life.

  3. David Says:

    I see a pattern. Between Samsung and Rim you don't get pricing or battery life. What are the odds that either will surpass the iPad? And a video for Rim? Yikes. We'll see.

  4. Harry McCracken Says:

    Samsung did quote a battery life for the Galaxy Tab at its Berlin unveiling–eight hours, which is good (if it's real) but not as good as the iPad. I agree that it's worrisome that RIM didn't say anything–they might not be ready to quote a definitive figure, but it would have been reassuring if they'd said something like "And we expect it to get at least six hours on a charge," or whatever.


  5. ahow628 Says:

    Is this thing Wifi only or what? I guess I couldn't gather whether this has a mobile connection and is sold on contract or if it is an unsubsidized Wifi device for tethering with your phone.

    All in all, I love it. I would love to hook this thing up to my EVO 4G.

  6. N8nNC Says:

    Sorry, but RIM didn't announce a product they teased one (or, worse, teased a concept). I'll consider it announced when they tell us price, availability, and see third-parties drive one. Let's don't hold them to some other standard than anyone else.

  7. Victor White Says:

    The OS looks strikingly familiar to Palm's Web OS with the multitasking-enabled cards. Where are consumers going to buy apps/where will developers sell their apps? The BB App World or a separate entity?

  8. TechF.I.B.E. Says:

    Very excited for this tablet! I cant wait!!

  9. iphone 5 pictures Says:

    Since BlackBerry has lost its way in the mobile phone world, it need to get some market share of the tablet world. This is a great start and the features look great.