RIM has used its annual Blackberry Developer Conference to unveil a tablet computer. It will be called the Blackberry PlayBook, rather than the BlackPad as many had predicted.
The tablet will feature a 7in display with 1,024 x 600 resolution. As expected, it will run the QNX operating system from the company RIM purchased earlier this year, and it will multi-task from the off. It will be 9.7mm thick and weigh 400g, making it thinner and lighter than the iPad.
“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 Lazaridis, president and co-chief executive at RIM. “The BlackBerry PlayBook solidly hits the mark with industry leading power, true multitasking, uncompromised web browsing and high performance multimedia,” he said, in a statement.
RIM said that the PlayBook will offer ‘uncompromised browsing’, referring to the fact that it is Flash 10.1 ready. The browser is also HTML5 complaint and supports Adobe Mobile AIR.
Hardware wise, the PlayBook is powered by a 1GHz Cortex-A9 dual-core CPU with a whopping 1GB of RAM, there’s a camera 3-megapixel camera on the front and a 5-megapixel unit on the rear. RIM said it will play 1080p video in H.264, MPEG4, DivX and WMV formats and stream via DLNA – making it more of a multimedia powerhouse out of the box than the iPad.
It also features HDMI connectivity and USB. While there’s Bluetooth and 802.11n Wi-Fi there’s no integrated 3G – though 3G and 4G versions are touted for the future.
Interestingly, you’ll be able to mirror your Blackberry handset on the PlayBook via Bluetooth, so you can interact and edit your phone’s content more easily. Once the connection is broken all data is wiped.
With out-of the-box support for Blackberry Enterprise server, the PlayBook is likely to be very attractive to corporates who like the idea of tablets, but are very concerned with the security, and logistics involved in supporting then. RIM is no doubt hoping the PlayBook will fit right in to these markets, and at the same time keep the iPad and Android rivals at bay.
RIM said that the PlayBook will launch in the US in early 2011, but the rest of the world will have to wait until Q2, so we’ll have quite a wait to see it here in the UK. Developers however, can start to get to grips with the SDK soon, as RIM said this will be available in a matter of weeks.