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BlackBerry PlayBook is no toy

Research In Motion launched a tablet computer at its DevCon 2010 event, unveiling the PlayBook as a device it was careful to describe as professional-grade.

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Joseph Hanlon
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Research In Motion launched a tablet computer at its DevCon 2010 event, unveiling the PlayBook as a device it was careful to describe as professional-grade.

Co-CEO of RIM, Mike Lazaridis, had the honour of revealing the new touchscreen computer, playing a demonstration video before running through some of the key specifications, while leaving plenty of areas, like pricing and availability, still shrouded in mystery.

RIM's PlayBook tablet.

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A bigger Berry

The PlayBook takes what is arguably the best parts of the dimensions of the iPad and Samsung Galaxy Tab, with a 7-inch LCD display and a petite 9.6mm in depth. It'll also weigh about 400g, making nearly half the weight of the hefty iPad.

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Power

The PlayBook will run with impressive innards: 1GB of RAM supporting a 1GHz dual-core processor.

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Another day, another OS

Opting not to simply rescale BlackBerry OS6, the PlayBook runs on the POSIX OS, a portable version of Unix, multithreaded to run several applications simultaneously.

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Fake HD

With a WSVGA (1024x600-pixel) resolution, the PlayBook won't display in true HD, but it can output to a 1080p-compatible device via an HDMI cable. Lazaridis told us in his keynote that the PlayBook would be able to output one image while displaying another on its LCD, suggesting this would open up a range of cool new apps.

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The wild, wild web

BlackBerry phones have been far from the best web browsing devices for a few years now, but RIM is obviously aiming for top spot in the tablet space. The PlayBook will sport an HTML5-compatible WebKit browser with support for Adobe Flash 10.1.

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More than web videos

Adobe's CEO Shantanu Narayen joined Lazaridis on stage to discuss the numerous ways Adobe products would find their way onto the PlayBook, including apps developed with Adobe Air.

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Dude, where's my data?

Perhaps the most interesting part of this announcement was that the original BlackBerry tablet rumours were true, this is a companion device. The PlayBook will share a user's BlackBerry service account and unlimited data, saving them having to pay for two telco data accounts. Those who don't have or want a BlackBerry smartphone can still use the PlayBook, with data via 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi.

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A double Cyclops!

Like the Samsung Galaxy Tab, the BlackBerry PlayBook features two cameras, with the front-facing camera capable of video calling.

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User experience

This is the best glimpse we got of the user interface during today's unveiling, with its multitasking and Apple-esque app icons.

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From a distance

We were impressed during the presentation, but definitely keen to get a little closer...

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A little closer

This is as "hands-on" as anyone could get with the PlayBook today, which was sealed like Sleeping Beauty behind glass.

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Super slim

Its 9.6mm waistline sure is impressive to see in the flesh.

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The one with the more gee-bees

This isn't a spec we've been able to confirm storage options with RIM as yet, but that's a decent whack of internal memory to play with.

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Full-frontal

From the front again, showing off its video playback skills.

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Playful

But don't let that Cookie Monster blue fool you, this is not a toy.

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