BlackBerry PlayBook Tablet Makes its Debut

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Seeking to differentiate itself, in a tablet market that’s getting crowded, Research in Motion unveiled the BlackBerry PlayBook—a 7-inch tablet with WiFi and Bluetooth that can tether to a BlackBerry smartphone for a 3G connection.

RIM hailed the device as the first multiprocessing, multi-tasking, tablet for the enterprise. It will be offered through retailers and other outlets early in 2011 but no price was announced.

The PlayBook will run on QNX, an operating system which is among the leaders in car electronics.

Previously rumored as the BlackPad, it uses a 1GHz dual-core processor. It supports Adobe Flash, and includes dual HD cameras for video capture and conferencing that can both record HD video (simultaneously). And it has an HDMI-out port for a connection to a TV. Many of these features are lacking in the Apple iPad.

Another differentiator is it tethers to a BlackBerry to borrow 3G service. It works by a Bluetooth connection between devices so that documents and email, calendar, and tasks appear on the tablet’s 7-inch LCD. RIM promises a secure, seamless connection between the two devices which may then be used interchangeably. No need for copying or syncing between them.

Since all content resides on the smartphone, but is only cached on the tablet, an IT department can give out the PlayBooks out of the box without worrying about security issues, said RIM.

In the future, RIM will offer self-contained 3G and 4G tablets, its said.

The PlayBook weighs less than a pound and measures less than a half inch thick. It also offers eReading using the Kobo eBookstore. And Kobo becomes the first eReading service to integrate BlackBerry Messenger into its app so users can discuss books and trade passages from books in real time.

The PlayBook, introduced late Monday at RIM’s developer conference in San Francisco, also has 1GB of RAM and a capacitive touch screen.

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