When Research in Motion unveiled its BlackBerry tablet a few months ago, the company spelled out the technical specs, explained how the operating system would look, and described how the tablet could be paired with a BlackBerry smartphone to share data. The one thing nobody was talking about at the time was the price. Now Bloomberg has a bit of info on that front.
The BlackBerry PlayBook is expected to sell for less than $500. That will put the tablet in striking distance of the Apple iPad, which starts at $499.
While the BlackBerry name is often associated with more business-like products than Apple’s consumer-centric phones and tablets, the PlayBook looks like it could be one heck of a platform for multimedia content. It has a 1GHz ARM Cortex-A9 CPU, support for 1080p HD video playback, and even an HDMI output. It supports Adobe Flash content and multitasking, and has both front and rear-facing cameras.
What the PlayBook doesn’t have at the moment is an army of third party apps designed to run on the platform. Since the PlayBook is based on QNX software instead of RIM’s BlackBerry software, existing BlackBerry apps won’t run. That means developers will need to write new apps for the device. Still, $500 or less for a 0.9 pound device which can surf the web, lay HD video, and sync with a BlackBerry phone for mobile broadband doesn’t sound like an awful deal.
“What the PlayBook doesn’t have at the moment is an army of third party apps designed to run on the platform.”
“Have” is one thing. “Need” is another. Business tends not to need an army of “apps”. In fact, web browsing on inexpensive touchscreen slates like this remains pretty pathetic, which is more the reason than anything else that “apps” have become “essential” to other platforms. We’ll see.
It’s not entirely clear that the PlayBook is aimed exclusively at business users. While there’s clearly a niche to be carved out there, I suspect RIM would be pretty happy if the tablet became popular with consumers as well.
BlackBerry phones may be associated with business… but there are a lot of people using them for their personal phones as well.
This tablet has other things that business people don’t really need:
-Camera (unless you video conference often but companies often ban cameras)
-1080p HD video playback
-DLNA media streaming
-HDMI output (many projectors still use VGA)
Anyway, without built in mobile broadband, the PlayBook slate better cost less than $500. With its dual core Cortex-A9 CPU and hardware video acceleration, this tablet computer will make for an excellent media consumption device and is what non-business people do a lot.
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