4G LTE BlackBerry PlayBook may debut this month

The new flavor PlayBook tablet will launch in Canada by the end of July, says MobileSyrup.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
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RIM's BlackBerry PlayBook
RIM's BlackBerry PlayBook Best Buy

Consumers still interested in Research In Motion's BlackBerry PlayBook may get a chance at the long-awaited 4G model.

The new model tablet is expected to launch in Canada through Bell and possibly other Canadian carriers on July 31. Citing an internal document from Bell, blogging site MobileSyrup says the tablet will be priced at $549.95.

The specs revealed by the document point to a 7-inch 1,024x600-pixel display, a 1.5GHz dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM, and 32GB of storage.

Running BlackBerry OS 2.0, the tablet will offer a 5-megapixel rear camera capable of 1080p videos and a 3-megapixel front camera. Support for 4G LTE and HSPA+ will be part of the package.

A 4G PlayBook tablet has long been in the works but has struggled to hit the market.

RIM first announced such a tablet at Mobile World Congress in 2011. Sprint initially planned to introduce a 4G PlayBook using its WiMax network, but the two companies later canceled that plan as RIM wanted to switch its focus to LTE.

CNET contacted RIM for comment and will update the story when we get more information.

If the report is true, one big question arises: Will consumers buy a new BlackBerry PlayBook, even one equipped with 4G LTE?

RIM faces a more crowded and competitive tablet market than it did last year, especially among the 7-inch variety. Amazon's Kindle Fire and Google's Nexus 7 have both seen robust demand. And reports say Apple will unveil an iPad Mini later this year.

Of course, the Fire and Nexus 7 are Wi-Fi-only devices, targeted more toward individual budget-conscious consumers. The iPad Mini is still a mystery in the making, so it's unknown whether such a tablet would support 4G.

RIM has aimed the PlayBook more toward the enterprise crowd, but the tablet has failed to catch on with either businesses or consumers even after RIM cut the price last September. With such rivals as Apple, Amazon, and Google, RIM will be hard pressed to interest enough buyers in a new tablet at this point, 4G or not.