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BlackBerry unveils PlayBook tablet

Rival to Apple iPad supports Flash playback

Research in Motion (RIM) has finally unveiled the PlayBook - the company's highly-anticipated tablet PC designed to rival Apple's iPad.

After a week of rumours, RIM's PlayBook and Tablet OS were formally unveiled at the BlackBerry Developer Conference (DevCon 2010) in San Francisco this week.

The PlayBook is 9.7mm thick with a 7in widescreen display. "The first time you hold it, it just feels right, and you want to take it home," said Mike Lazaridis, president and co-CEO of RIM. However, BlackBerry did not state when the tablet will hit the UK. RIM said it will hit the US in early 2011, with an international roll-out, inclkuding the UK, in Q2 of next year.

"CIOs can rest assure the BlackBerry PlayBook is absolutely enterprise-ready," featuring integration with the BlackBerry smartphone, said Lazaridis. Users will not need new software, new security, or new IT administration or another data plan, he stressed. The device supports Web browsing, stereo sound, and a media player.

BlackBerry users can pair the BlackBerry and PlayBook using a secure Bluetooth connection.

"BlackBerry PlayBook will support 1080p HD video," Lazaridis said. Non-proprietary HDMI and USB are supported as well.

The device features hardware-accelerated video and, in addition to backing Flash Player 10.1, supports HTML5, Adobe AIR (Adobe Integrated Runtime), and Java. Developers can bring existing BlackBerry 6 Java applications to the PlayBook.

Apple, by contrast, has positioned HTML5 as a replacement for Adobe Flash on its own iPad and iPhone device, contending Flash is now unnecessary. Apple, which could not be immediately reached for comment about PlayBook, has rejected Java on its own devices as well.

PlayBook features a 1GHz dual core processor taking advantage of symmetric multiprocessing. 1GB of RAM is included along with Wi-Fi 802.11 and Bluetooth support. Front- and rear-facing cameras are featured as well.

The POSIX-compliant BlackBerry Tablet OS is built on the QNX Neutrino microkernel architecture, which has been leveraged previously in systems such as planes, trains, cars and medical equipment.

RIM said it will begin working with developers and select corporate customers next month to work on development and early testing.

See also: RIM posts revenue gains on BlackBerry sales

Related articles:

RIM BlackBerry PlayBook: the details

Video: RIM launches BlackBerry PlayBook tablet

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