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BlackBerry PlayBook: Official photos of the business-minded iPad rival

The RIM BlackBerry PlayBook does the business in our gallery of official shots. Is it a serious contender to the Apple iPad?

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Richard Trenholm
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Say hello to the business-minded BlackBerry PlayBook tablet. Click through our gallery above for the official shots from BlackBerry makers Research in Motion, and see how it shapes up against the popular Apple iPad.

These pics offer the first glimpse of the all-new, all-different BlackBerry Tablet OS. RIM has come up with a new operating system instead of scaling up the OS seen on its phones. Elements of BlackBerry Tablet OS may trickle down into future handsets from RIM, but it hasn't revealed any plans just yet.

As a 7-inch tablet, the PlayBook is smaller than the 9.7-inch iPad. It's the same size as the Samsung Galaxy Tab, and like the Tab it boasts twin cameras and an HDMI connection. The iPad has none of these things. Unlike the iPad, the PlayBook also plays Flash.

One thing the iPad does have is 3G. There's a 3G version of the PlayBook in the pipeline, but leaving out 3G at launch is a massive oversight. The PlayBook will go 3G by tethering to your BlackBerry, but that limits the device's usefulness to those who already have a BB in their pocket.

RIM avoided shooting itself in the foot with the rumoured BlackPad name, but the moniker still has its problems: in the US, PlayBook is a suitably macho reference to compilations of sports strategies, the sort of thing work-hard/play-hard businessdudes will love. In Europe, however, the name makes the tablet sound like a lifestyle device, or worse, a toy.

The PlayBook will arrive in the US in the first quarter of 2011 and elsewhere in the second quarter. Pricing is yet to be confirmed.

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The home screen features Cover Flow-style swiping thumbnails of open programs, and a dock for launching apps.
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BlackBerry Messenger, RIM's instant messaging service. The kids love it.
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The calendar in action. Never miss another appointment etc.
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Here's your contacts.
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The photo gallery.
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The email inbox looks very similar to the iPad's inbox. We wonder if the PlayBook will let you move the reading pane, perhaps to underneath the list of emails.

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