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RIM unveils 7-inch 'PlayBook' tablet set to launch in early 2011


Research in Motion on Monday announced the "PlayBook," a 7-inch multi-touch tablet that represents the smartphone maker's first attempt to take on Apple's highly successful iPad.

The business-centric device will run the all-new BlackBerry Tablet OS on a 1024-by-600-pixel display. The device will also pack a 1GHz dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM, dual HD cameras, and support for Web formats like HTML5 and Adobe Flash Player 10.1.

The PlayBook will not offer integrated 3G or 4G data connectivity, though RIM said it plans to add built-in wireless in the future. In the first-generation hardware, users will be able to access the Internet over traditional Wi-Fi, or shared with a BlackBerry smartphone.

"RIM set out to engineer the best professional-grade tablet in the industry with cutting-edge hardware features and one of the world's most robust and flexible operating systems," said Mike Lazardis, president and co-CEO of RIM. "The BlackBerry PlayBook solidly hits the mark with industry leading power, true multitasking, uncompromised Web browsing and high performance multimedia."

The PlayBook will be 9.7mm thick and will feature HDMI and USB ports. It will also be capable of 1080p resolution video playback.

RIM said it plans to make the BlackBerry PlayBook available to retail outlets and other channels in the U.S. in early 2011. Other international roll-outs are scheduled to take place by the second quarter of next year. Pricing was not announced.

Monday's unveiling was anticipated, as recent reports indicated RIM was set to show off a device that was internally dubbed the "Blackpad." Reports, however, incorrectly indicated the device would have a 9.7-inch display, identical to Apple's iPad.

Those reports were correct, though, in stating that the device will not offer 3G in its first iteration.

Key features and specifications of the BlackBerry PlayBook, according to RIM, include:

  • 7-inch 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
  • Ultra thin and portable:
    • Measures 5.1”x7.6”x0.4” (130mm x 193mm x 10mm)
    • Weighs less than a pound (approximately 0.9 lb or 400g)
  • Additional features and specifications of the BlackBerry PlayBook will be shared on or before the date this product is launched in retail outlets.
  • RIM intends to also offer 3G and 4G models in the future.