Today at Research In Motion’s annual BlackBerry Developer Conference, CEO Mike Lazaridis announced the company’s new tablet — the PlayBook. The tablet will utilize an OS created by the recently acquired QNX (just as we’d heard previous to the announcement) called the BlackBerry Tablet OS which will offer full OpenGL and POSIX support alongside web standards such as HTML5 (which is all tied into RIM’s new WebWorks SDK). Lazaridis was joined on stage by the company’s founder, Dan Dodge, who said that “QNX is going to enable things that you have never seen before,” and added that the PlayBook would be “an incredible gaming platform for publishers and the players.” RIM also touted the PlayBook’s ability to handle Flash content via Flash 10.1, as well as Adobe AIR apps. The new slate — which Lazaridis described as “the first professional tablet” — will sport a 7-inch, 1024 x 600, capacitive multitouch display, a Cortex A9-based, dual-core 1GHz CPU (the company calls it the “fastest tablet ever”), 1GB of RAM, and a 3 megapixel front-facing camera along with a 5 megapixel rear lens (and yes, there will be video conferencing). There was no mention of onboard storage capacity during the keynote, though the devices we just spied in our eyes-on post are labeled 16GB and 32GB on their back panels. The PlayBook will be capable of 1080p HD video, and comes equipped with an HDMI port as well as a microUSB jack, 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi, and Bluetooth 2.1. The device clocks in at a svelte 5.1- by 7.6-inches, is only 0.4-inches thick, and weighs just 400g (or about 0.9 pounds).
In terms of interface, the OS looks like a mashup of webOS and the BlackBerry OS, even allowing for multitasking via what amounts to a “card” view. Interestingly, RIM and QNX boasted of the PlayBook’s multimedia and gaming functions, but Mike Lazaridis also described the tablet as “an amplified view of what’s already on your BlackBerry.” That’s due largely in part to a function of the tablet which allows you to siphon data off of your BlackBerry handset via Bluetooth tethering and display it on your PlayBook (a la the ill-fated Palm Foleo). While the PlayBook doesn’t seem to rely on phone content alone, the press release from the company says that users can “use their tablet and smartphone interchangeably without worrying about syncing or duplicating data.” RIM didn’t hand out any solid launch dates beyond “early 2011,” and of course, there was no mention of retail price.
- 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)
- RIM intends to also offer 3G and 4G models in the future.