For a mere $294 at Harvey Norman until Sunday the 7in RIM BlackBerry PlayBook is a high-quality tablet that’s suddenly very affordable for what it currently offers. The build quality is superb, the performance is top notch and it has a feature set that many larger tablets struggle to match. It's a great bargain, and APC's online editor Peter Dockrill has some thoughts about what it means for RIM and non-Apple tablets in general.
The 50% price cut is news enough, but what’s even more important, we believe, is that RIM is preparing to release a major software update to the tablet (via the Internet) that will fix all the failings that critics picked out when the tablet was first released three months ago.
Probably the main one – a bizarre one, actually – was that the PlayBook did not actually run Blackberry’s famous, secure email service, as well as the calendar and contacts. To access these, you had to pair it via Bluetooth to a Blackberry phone. With the update, it will do these natively.
The software update is also expected to include the Android app player, which will enable PlayBook users to run Android apps. There will some restrictions - it won’t run things like Android’s live wallpaper, SIP/VoiP apps and some other things – but on the whole it will run the majority of Android apps.
RIM is expected to release the software update very soon, as early as next week, when RIM hold their developer’s conference in San Francisco.
Hardware-wise, the PlayBook is one of the best 7in tablets we’ve seen. A 7in (1,024x600 resolution) capacitive screen is ably powered by a Texas Instruments OMAP 4430 (1GHz) processor and 1GB of RAM. The PlayBook’s OS is QNX, an impressive operating system that does true multitasking, with a UI that is uncannily similar – identical, in fact – to HP’s webOS.
In addition to a Micro HDMI port and a Micro USB 2.0 port the PlayBook has front and rear cameras, stereo speakers and stereo microphones, so despite weighing only 425 grams it’s got everything you’d hope for in a tablet. The storage starts at 16GB, but you can upgrade to 32GB and 64GB models, for $347 and $398 respectively.
See the RIM BlackBerry PlayBook in the Notebook Hunter database here.
See the special online at Harvey Norman here for the 16GB version, here for the 32GB version, and here for the 64GB version.