UPDATE: BlackBerry PlayBook means business

By David Ringstrom

As iPhones continue to impinge on traditional BlackBerry territory, Research in Motion (RIM) is countering with a competitor to Apple’s famed iPad – a tablet known as the PlayBook will be released in early 2011.

Geared toward business users, the PlayBook will serve as either a standalone device, or a larger screen for a BlackBerry smartphone. Users will be able to access any information on their BlackBerry smartphone, such as e-mail, calendar appointments, and documents, interchangeably on either device.

Internet access is available via WiFi or by sharing the wireless data service plan of a BlackBerry. Unlike the iPad, the PlayBook will offer full support for Flash, which means users won’t have to jump through hoops to view YouTube.

At nine-tenths of a pound, the PlayBook is smaller and lighter than an iPad. Current iPads don’t offer built-in cameras, but the PlayBook will have dual high-definition cameras facing front and rear to allow video recording or video conferencing.

The PlayBook is compatible with BlackBerry Enterprise Server, and offers secure corporate data access. Video playback will be available at 1080p, along with support for MPEG, DivX, and WMV formats. The PlayBook will use the new BlackBerry Tablet operating system, which includes full multi-touch and gesture support.

The PlayBook will ship with a 1 GHz dual-core processor, and will have four times the onboard memory of an iPad (1 GB RAM in a PlayBook versus 256 MB in an iPad). The operating system allows for full multitasking, meaning users won’t have to pause or shut down one application to launch another. The PlayBook will have a standard microUSB and micro HDMI ports, and the 7-inch screen will offer a screen resolution of 1024 x 600.

RIM has not yet announced pricing, but some analysts expect the PlayBook will be offered through the cell phone carriers that sell BlackBerry smart phones. Others expect that the PlayBook will retail for approximately $499, which is the same as an entry level iPad.

A previous version of this article first appeared on www.accountingweb.com .
About the author:

David H. Ringstrom, CPA heads up Accounting Advisors, Inc., an Atlanta-based software and database consulting firm providing training and consulting services nationwide. Contact David at david@acctadv.com  or follow him on Twitter. David speaks at conferences about Microsoft Excel, and presents webcasts for several CPE providers, including AccountingWEB partner CPE Link

Editors Note:

John Stokdyk, editor at sister site AccountingWEB.co.uk, ponders the possibilities for those who can't have or won't have an Apple tablet.
I was reading Richard Holway's state of the IT industry report recently in which he talked about 2010 as the year of the tablet. With the launch of Apple's iPad in January, you can't really fault his logic, but for months GadgetZone readers will know that I have been twisting with envious rationalizations why I don't really want/need an iPad: too bulky, no multi-tasking and anyway, my mobile contract comes with a BlackBerry handset.
Credit goes to Apple for breaking open this new market, and for laying the most important foundations for its success with a burgeoning library of apps available through its online iTunes store.
But at last a potential rescuer is heading our way from the direction of Toronto-based BlackBerry manufacturer Research in Motion, which this week introduced its Playbook, a 7-inch (18cm) tablet with front and rear facing cameras to support video conferencing and an all operating system called QNX.
As I noted when I looked at Toshiba's JournE Touch, I like the size of the 7-inch screen and there's hope with BlackBerry's corporate market that it might have a chance of assembling an interesting collection.
As for connectivity, the Playbook will support Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity, but has no 3G signal receiver. Instead you will need to tether it to a normal BlackBerry to establish a mobile data connection. At least I've already got the BlackBerry, but then I remember why I continue to suffer pangs of jealousy when friends whip out their iPhones and iPads to go surfing.
Because of the screen size of my BlackBerry Pearl I rarely use it on the web and when I do, the download speeds are somewhat ponderous. The last time I used the BlackBerry browser, I remember the times for a direct train home arriving after several minutes on my BlackBerry just as the train I was on pulled out of Reading station towards an interchange in London.
I dread to think what will happen to mobile network bandwidth if the Playbook takes off and all us BlackBerry users start surfing as obsessively as iPhone users.