RIM Reveals PlayBook (aka BlackPad), No 3G

The iPad competitor formerly known as the BlackPad has been revealed as real. Well, the BlackBerry PlayBook” has, at any rate, which is the commercial name of Research in Motion Ltd.s foray into the tablet computing space, announced on Monday at the RIM DevCon conference in San Francisco. Its focused on the enterprise, but surprisingly, theres no embedded 3G at launch users must tether the gadget with a BlackBerry handset to go cellular.

The tablet adds to the gathering force of tablet-mania, kicked off by the iPad in January and now picked up again by, well, every CE manufacturer worth its salt. The Samsung Galaxy Tab launched last week, another high-profile shot across the iPad bow, and more tablets are expected as the fall marches on towards the holiday season.

The PlayBook will run QNX as expected, which is a real-time OS that actually hails from the connected car company RIM acquired back in April. Like the Samsung entry, its a little smaller than the iPad, with a 7-inch LCD screen, a dual-core processor, Wi-Fi and a Bluetooth radio. It will measure 5.1 inches by 7.6 inches by 0.4 inches, and weigh 0.9 pounds.

The PlayBook will also run HTML5 and Flash 10.1, have a “standard” HDMI and a USB connector, and will also contain both a 3-megapixel forward-facing camera, and a 5-Megapixel rear-facing camera.

Kevin Burden, ABI Researchs practice director for mobile devices, points out that while there’s plenty for the consumer to like, RIM designed its tablet not as a general purpose Internet device, but one that gives a compelling experience in the core applications valued by its target user the enterprise and mobile professional.

Differentiation in the tablet market will soon become intensely difficult as a variety of similar-looking slates hit the market with common operating platforms and services,” he says. Building to the performance requirements of the enterprise will continue to be RIMs key differentiator that even consumers recognize.”

“This is one of the most exciting times in our history,” said Mike Lazaridis, co-CEO of RIM, in a keynote address at DevCon. The PlayBook is “always connected, always on.” Even so, the device will be only Wi-Fi connected at launch. While both 3G and 4G versions of the tablet will come in the future, the company said, RIM didnt say when those would be available.

RIM also didnt announce pricing, but it will launch in the United States in the first quarter of 2011.

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