John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

RIM Gets into the Tablet Game, Throws Out the PlayBook

Research in Motion co-CEO Mike Lazaridis had his “one more thing” moment today at the company’s 2010 DevCon conference. Near the end of his opening keynote address, Lazaridis–after making a number of big announcements, including in-app payments for BlackBerry apps, a BlackBerry Advertising Service and the opening of BBM as a social platform–uncrated the PlayBook, RIM’s long-rumored tablet.

Lazaridis described the device as “the first professional tablet,” able to access the “full Web” (the fashionable euphemism for supporting Adobe’s Flash). The PlayBook will be able to display content from a paired BlackBerry smartphone, and, in a departure for RIM, will be “an amazing gaming platform,” Lazaridis said. Leaving no superlative unturned, he said, “This will enable a new world of computing that you can hold in the palm of your hand.”

Thankfully, he stopped short of calling it “magical and revolutionary.”

The PlayBook has no cellular connection of its own, though it can connect to wireless networks through a paired BlackBerry. There are plans for 3G and 4G versions of the device, though RIM volunteered little in the way of a time line for them–“some point in the future” was as close as Lazaridis got to a hard and fast date.

Interestingly, PlayBook doesn’t use RIM’s new BlackBerry 6 OS. Instead, it’s built on a new platform created by QNX, which RIM (RIMM) acquired earlier this year.

Here are the specs:

  • 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
  • Measures 5.1″x7.6″x0.4″ (130mm x 193mm x 10mm)
  • Weighs less than a pound (approximately 0.9 lb or 400g)

Say what you will about RIM following the puck again, that’s an impressive list. In spec, PlayBook looks quite promising, certainly more so than the other iPad rivals we’ve seen to date. And RIM’s leadership clearly has high hopes for it.

“We are bringing mobility to the Web, not asking the Web to reformat for mobility,” RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie told Reuters. “I can’t think of anything more architecturally game-changing that we’ve done, other than the launch of the original BlackBerry.”

The PlayBook is expected to arrive at market in the U.S. in early 2011 and abroad in the second quarter. No word yet on pricing (or a few other details, like battery life).


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