Here's what the new BlackBerry PlayBook offers that the Apple iPad does not: multitasking capabilities, support for Adobe Flash Player 10.1 and the ability to pair it with your BlackBerry smartphone. The device was announced Sept. 27 at Research In Motion's BlackBerry Developer Forum in San Francisco. At the event, RIM also previewed BlackBerry Enterprise Application Middleware, an app development platform designed to enable commercial enterprise and corporate developers to build "super app" enterprise applications and services for BlackBerry smartphones.
Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported a RIM tablet was due in 4Q that would be called the BlackPad. Instead, RIM says in its Sept. 27 announcement that the PlayBook will be available for sale in early 2011 in the U.S. and in other markets in 2Q 2011. A price was not revealed. The initial device will debut with 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi connectivity. RIM says it also plans to offer 3G and 4G cellular versions in the future. The Playbook features a 1 GHz dual-core processor and the new BlackBerry Tablet OS. It measures less than half an inch thick, weighs less than a pound, and features a 7-inch high-resolution display. RIM says it will begin working with developers and select corporate customers next month to begin development and early testing efforts.
BlackBerry smartphone users will be able to pair their device with a PlayBook using a secure Bluetooth connection. This means they can opt to use the larger tablet display to seamlessly and securely view any of the email, BBM, calendar, tasks, documents and other content that resides on (or is accessible through) their smartphone. They can also use their tablet and smartphone interchangeably without worrying about syncing or duplicating data.
RIM says BlackBerry PlayBook is compatible out-of-the-box with BlackBerry Enterprise Server, according to RIM. When connected via Bluetooth, smartphone content is viewable on the tablet, but it actually remains stored on the BlackBerry smartphone and is only temporarily cached on the tablet (and subject to IT policy controls). With this approach to information security, IT departments can deploy the BlackBerry PlayBook to employees out-of-the-box without worrying about all the security and manageability issues that arise when corporate data is stored on yet another device.