We were excited and a little bit relieved that RIM announced its widely rumoredyesterday at the BlackBerry Developer Conference in San Francisco.
Although we did learn some specs--like the tablet's dimensions--there's still much RIM isn't telling. We'll share what we know and will update our list as soon as we learn more.
What are the specifications?7-inch screen (1,024x600 pixels)
5.1 inches tall
7.6 inches wide
0.4 inch (9.7mm) thick
3-megapixel front-facing HD camera
5-megapixel rear-facing HD camera
1GHz dual-core processor
1080p high-definition video playback
802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi
Adobe Flash 10.1 support
Adobe AIR support
H.264, MPEG4, and WMV, HDMI video output
Micro USB, Micro HDMI, and DLNA media streaming
Enterprise-strength e-mail security
Is the PlayBook a phone?
No. RIM's new device will be an Internet-enabled tablet. However, RIM is emphasizing video calling over Wi-Fi, so you can expect to see video chatting software.
Will it have 3G or 4G data?
It doesn't appear that the BlackBerry PlayBook will ship with a 3G or 4G cellular antenna at launch. If you're out of Wi-Fi range, you'll be able to pair your BlackBerry smartphone (via Bluetooth). RIM did mention in a press release that it "intends to also offer 3G and 4G models in the future."
We're still uncertain if the BlackBerry PlayBook will only tether to BlackBerry phones or if will will also pair to any other smartphone or data-capable device.
When will it be available?
The PlayBook should arrive in the U.S. in early 2011, and in other international markets in the second quarter of 2011. We don't know additional details.
How much will the PlayBook cost?
Although RIM has kept mum on pricing, CNET Senior Editor Donald Bell speculates that the PlayBook could start at $500 and cost up to $1,000, if unsubsidized by a carrier.
Where will I be able to buy one?
Not to sound like a broken record, but we're still waiting to hear if the BlackBerry PlayBook will sell through wireless carriers or through some other outlet, like Amazon, BestBuy, or RadioShack retail stores.
What about storage space?
RIM hasn't announced its storage models, but the prototypes we saw came in 16GB and 32GB varieties. We're also awaiting more details about whether the PlayBook will accept expandable memory (and how much, if it does) and battery life.
Will it come in colors?
RIM has not announced colors, but we did see prototypes in black and robin's egg blue.
Who is it intended for?
RIM is marketing the forthcoming tablet to both business users and casual consumers, and indeed, the specs show goodies for both demographics. However, RIM may have a hard time convincing "ordinary" users that its secure e-mail function doesn't make it a business device. .
Why did RIM release a new operating system?
RIM chose the QNX operating system as the base of its new BlackBerry Tablet OS in large part for its ability to handle multiple processes written with various codes. For example, that allows developers to create applications in Java, HTML5, Flash, Adobe AIR, and native code (C or C++). This lends power and flexibility, and will engage a wider variety of developers to create apps, RIM hopes.
What about the apps?
Developers can create new apps a variety of ways, including Web apps that can be packaged like native apps and distributed through the BlackBerry App World.
RIM is still hammering out internal details on how it intends to get existing App World apps (written in Java) onto the PlayBook.
Will the PlayBook's QNX OS replace BlackBerry OS 6?
RIM's official stance is predictably obtuse. Mike Kirkup, RIM's director of developer relations, did tell CNET that RIM is "still investing in evolving the BlackBerry OS for our smartphones."
Kirkup also mentioned that RIM is "still internally deciding which is the dominant platform" going forward. However, a RIM vice president told one of our colleagues that QNX is the long-term operating system of choice. Right now, RIM spokespeople are neither confirming nor denying, but it's clear this VP spoke without the official green light.
Article updated 9/30/2010 at 11:39 am PT with more questions and answers.