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RIM cuts BlackBerry PlayBook prices again--but should you buy in?

The 7-inch tablet now starts at $199 shipped. However, the PlayBook's future is uncertain, so is that a deal or not?

The 16GB BlackBerry PlayBook is once again on sale for $199. Good deal or no deal?
The 16GB BlackBerry PlayBook is once again on sale for $199. Good deal or no deal?

Last summer, when HP discontinued the WebOS-powered TouchPad and fire-sold its remaining inventory, buyers went ape. Apparently a 10-inch tablet for $99 was too good to pass up--never mind the fact that app development was about to grind to a halt.

RIM's 7-inch BlackBerry PlayBook is likely to suffer a similar fate, which begs the question: is it worth owning if you can get it for cheap?

Your inevitable next question: how cheap? RIM's newly slashed PlayBook prices are as follows: $199 for the 16GB model, $249 for the 32GB model, and $299 for the 64GB model.

This last hasn't changed since last month, when RIM made the curious move of pricing all PlayBook models at $299. (Um, yeah, think I'll take the one with less storage. Right.)

Let's focus on the $199 version. That's a good price for a 7-inch tablet. It has twice the storage of Amazon's $199 Kindle Fire and comes with advanced features like an HDMI output and a powerful Flash-enhanced browser.

On the other hand, there's no way to expand the available storage, as you can with, say, the $199 Lenovo IdeaPad A1. And the PlayBook lacks GPS, another feature that gives the IdeaPad a leg up. Update: My bad! The PlayBook does indeed have GPS. Anyone know if it works offline (i.e. without Wi-Fi assistance)?

And let's not forget: the latter runs Android. RIM's OS is, by most accounts, fast, fluid, and pleasant, but its future is uncertain. In short order you could find yourself with a tablet that app developers have more or less abandoned.

Of course, maybe that doesn't matter. Even without new apps, it'll still be good for e-mail, e-books, Web browsing, Facebook, and Angry Birds. Maybe that's enough for some users. You tell me.

Indeed, let me know what you think of this deal. Is $199 the right price for a 16GB PlayBook? If not, what is? And how about the other two models? It's pretty rare to see a 64GB tablet for $299.

That said, I still think the IdeaPad is the $199 tablet deal to beat.

Bonus deal: It's extremely rare to see any kind of significant deal on a non-refurbished iPod Touch, but here you go: Amazon has the fourth-generation iPod Touch (8GB) for $179.99 shipped. That's $20 less than what Apple charges. You can also get the 32GB model for $272.95. These are the Touches with the built-in cameras and Retina screens--that is, the latest ones.