Ina Fried

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RIM: Don’t Worry About PlayBook’s Battery Life

Speaking about its business plans on Thursday, Research In Motion briefly addressed its forthcoming PlayBook tablet and reported issues around the product’s battery life.

Senior Product Manager Ryan Bidan said that the tablet will have a 5,300-milliamp-hour battery that will offer plenty of battery life, but he wouldn’t quote a specific estimate.

“We’ll have good battery life,” he said. “Don’t worry about the battery life.”

Among other details, Bidan said that, unlike with the BlackBerry, RIM will deliver software updates directly to PlayBook devices. He also said that there would be a version of App World for downloading programs created by third-party developers.

The company also listed a number of technical specs for the device, including a 1GHz dual-core TI processor, a 3MP front-facing camera and a 5MP rear-facing camera, as well as mini-HDMI and mini-USB ports. Developers, he said, will have unfettered access to the camera and HDMI port, paving the way for all kinds of cool video-conferencing and presentation-delivery applications.

As for the key details, Bidan stuck to the company line, saying only that it will ship in North America this year and refusing to talk exact timing or pricing. “We’ll be competitively priced,” he said.

Bidan also demonstrated the tablet synching with his BlackBerry to display email and calendar information stored on the handheld. Each PlayBook can only synch with one BlackBerry at a time, Bidan said.

Update, 12:21 pm ET: Asked whether RIM is still aiming for eight hours of battery life, as it claimed at CES, Bidan said, “That is the case–our goal is to get a full day.”

That battery, by the way, is a fixed, nonremovable battery.

Asked about the size of the marketing campaign that will accompany PlayBook’s release, RIM executives declined to give specifics, but said it will be big.

“It’s not going to be a soft launch,” said VP Alec Taylor. “The magnitude will be commensurate with the opportunity.”

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald