updated 04:40 pm EDT, Mon September 27, 2010
RIM BlackBerry PlayBook takes on iPad
RIM today unveiled the PlayBook, its first shot at the tablet space. The PlayBook has a seven-inch, multi-touch display and is just 9.7mm thick. It's designed as a high-powered browsing device with both a WebKit browser as well as Flash 10.1 and AIR support. The slate is billed as a media-heavy device with full 1080p video output over HDMI -- including entirely different content on each screen -- and has both three- and five-megapixel cameras on both the front and back.
Performance stems from a 1GHz, dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor with 1GB of RAM. The device is running a new QNX-based operating system with full multitasking, symmetric multi-core processing and a very stable but also low-footprint platform. The PlayBook still taps into BlackBerry Enterprise Servers for e-mail and should be as secure. Gaming is much more important on the platform and will include OpenGL video that can even drive hardware Flash acceleration.
It will so far get online only with 802.11n Wi-Fi; it can connect to a BlackBerry over Bluetooth for 3G and sync. Versions with built-in 3G and 4G should come later.
RIM doesn't expect to ship the PlayBook until early 2011 in the US and spring in other countries.
The PlayBook confirms late rumors and sets up a more direct confrontation between Apple and RIM in the tablet space. The iPad's early lead has given it an unexpected presence in business and has carried the risk of locking RIM out of tablets before it could get involved. With a 2011 launch, however, the PlayBook may come just as Apple releases a second-generation iPad that could have the dual-core processor, added RAM and cameras that would close the gap.