The BlackBerry PlayBook tablet of Research in Motion is already officially available for pre-orders, with prices starting at $500. Three Wi-Fi-only models can be pre-ordered on the Best Buy Canadian site. The 16GB model is priced at $500, while the 32GB version is $600 and the 64GB costs $700. Only the 16GB model is currently listed on the US Best Buy site and its price is similar to the Canadian version.
Other US stores like Office Depot, Radio Shack and Staples are expected to stock RIM’s tablet. A series of carriers officially supporting the new tablet include Sprint, AT&T and Verizon. The tablet is supposed to be available in more than 20,000 stores across the United States on release day.
Mike Lazaridis, RIM President and Co-CEO, appreciated the PlayBook as an “amazing tablet” praised for its multitasking, web experience offered as well as an ultra-portable design. Taking into consideration the high level of interest shown by customers, the company said to be pleased to work with an awesome lineup of retail partners.
The tablet sports a seven-inch display with a 1,024×600 resolution, a TI OMAP 4430 processor and 1GB of RAM. A three-megapixel front camera and another one on the rear, five-megapixel capable, complete the features of the new device. The tablet is able to support push e-mail, but only when it is paired to a phone using Bluetooth. The BlackBerry PlayBook is powered by a QNX OS mobile-optimized version, BlackBerry Tablet OS, capable of offering full multitasking. The web browser has support for Flash 10.1, while much of the operating system runs on Adobe’s AIR.
Research in Motion promised to ship the new tablet on the 19th of April in the United States and Canada. Other countries, as well as 3G and 4G versions would arrive at a date that is not defined as for now.
Thanks to its pricing, the BlackBerry PlayBook will be competitive with an iPad 2 in equivalent configuration. Deciding the date of the release is the final step to make after more than half a year wait for the launch. During this time, many of the announced advantages have disappeared. Although it has Flash and has a unique deep integration meant to improve performance, the tablet is more or less comparable in cost and speed to its larger Apple rival.