RIM Sets 7” BlackBerry PlayBook at $499, Shows Specs

| Product News

Research In Motion announced pricing and specs for its 7” BlackBerry PlayBook tablet on Tuesday. The company said it will sell the device on April 19th starting at US$499, the same starting price as Apple’s much larger iPad 2. RIM announced the tablet in late 2010, but hadn’t yet announced pricing or availability.

BlackBerry PlayBook runs a new OS called BlackBerry Tablet OS based on technology acquired when RIM bought QNX Software Systems early in 2010. The device is built from the ground up to fit into Enterprise environments, just like the company’s once market-leading BlackBerry smartphones.

While the device is markedly smaller than iPad and iPad 2, as well as competing Android tablets like Motorola’s Xoom (when PlayBook was first unveiled, the 7” form factor was all the rage for dozens of Android tablets that were being announced, but mostly never shipped). It outdoes the iPad 2, however, in the amount of RAM it features — PlayBook has 1GB, while iPad 2 has 512MB.

RIM has also crowed far and wide that the PlayBook offers “uncompromised Web browsing,” referring to the fact that it supports Adobe’s Flash technology, where Apple’s iOS devices notoriously do not. RIM has also bested the iPad 2 by making both cameras on the device 1080p HD cameras. iPad 2 has a VGA camera in front and a 720p camera on the back.

The question for the company will be whether customers care enough for Flash and HD cameras to pay the same amount for a 7” device with few apps as they would for Apple’s ubiquitous iPad 2 (the original iPad is $100 less) and the market-defining App Store.

PlayBook is one of the few iPad-competitors to match Apple’s pricing*, but the company had to make its device much smaller than the iPad to do so. This goes to once again emphasize how Apple’s ability to lock up components and do volume production gives it an amazing pricing advantage over its competitors.

BlackBerry PlayBook

BlackBerry PlayBook

PlayBook Specs:

  • 7” 1024x600 WSVGA capacitive LCD touch screen
  • Ultra-portable at less than a pound and less than one-half inch thick: 0.9 lbs (425g) and 5.1” x 7.6” x 0.4” (130mm x 194mm x 10mm)
  • 1 GHz dual-core processor
  • BlackBerry® Tablet OS with support for symmetric multiprocessing
  • MP3, AAC and WMA audio playback
  • Support for high resolution video playback (H.264, MPEG4, WMV)
  • 1080p HDMI output
  • Dual 1080p HD cameras for video conferencing and video capture (3MP front and 5MP rear)
  • 1 GB RAM memory
  • Up to 64 GB internal storage (16, 32 and 64 GB models)
  • GPS, Orientation Sensor (Accelerometer), 6-Axis Motion Sensor (Gyroscope), Digital Compass (Magnetometer)
  • Stereo speakers and stereo microphones
  • Wi-Fi (802.11 a/b/g/n) connectivity
  • Bluetooth 2.1+EDR support

* Motrola’s Xoom will soon start at $599 for a 32GB WiFi-only model that matches the 32GB iPad 2.

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Well, if it’s traditionally Blackberry, Mac users will steer clear as it doesn’t work with your computer. Maybe it can work as a standalone device, but RIM has notoriously avoided supporting the Apple community. The iPhone might never have happened if they’d ever opened up their ecosystem to Mac users. Every time I contacted them for presales or support, I was told in no uncertain terms they did NOT and would not support Macs.


Well, it certainly seems to be Specs-tacular, save size, apps, mac-friendly. It will have its place and I hope it’s a go. Another ugly duckling to help the swan stand tall.
Sorry, hard not make a dig. Really hope it successfully fills a niche. Maybe with flash it’ll pop pop-corn.
Enough. i’m outa here.


No battery life specs? Sounds suspicious.


I just don’t understand where all the decent $200-$300 android tablets are.  Here is a tablet that is much smaller with a free OS - why can’t they price them cheaper?

Lee Dronick

I just don?t understand where all the decent $200-$300 android tablets are.? Here is a tablet that is much smaller with a free OS - why can?t they price them cheaper?

If they sold it cheaper they may think that there isn’t enough time to recoup their investment before it becomes too obsolete.


In electronics, smaller doesn’t mean cheaper. Usually the opposite. I think there are some very unreal expectations out there with regards to electronics, especially computers. I’m a buyer for our office, whether it’s computers, smart boards, phones, etc., and the whole “things are really cheap” attitude I get from coworkers is just a fallacy. If they want a new computer, of course they want it to be good and not fail in six months. In the last month, I’ve bought a 15” MBP, two 13” MBPs, one Dell laptop, and one Dell tower. The cheapest of those was the Dell tower and l’ll tell you that it capped out at just under $2K on education prices when you add in the memory, hard drive, etc. We can’t just buy the bottom of the barrel, off the rack stuff the vendors like to peddle because we can’t afford to replace them every six months. More like every six to seven years (and with our Macs, it’s been averaging nearly 9 years before refresh).

When Apple introduced the iPad, the world gasped at the $499 price saying it was unbelievable that it wasn’t over $1k. Here we are at generation 2 of them, they’re much better, and yet still the same pricing. The Xoom, the most closely competitive tablet on the market, is running about $700. With inflation and component costs skyrocketing due to crises in Asia, we will not see prices come down for several quarters, if ever. Shipping costs alone from that part of the world are skyrocketing due to fuel costs.

It’s just a fact of life these days.


RIM has a nice product it appears, but it isn’t something I will ever buy because it won’t ever do what I want a tab for. It is business centric and since it is limited to the business world it won’t do the rest of the things I expect in my life. The lack of apps currently will put it behind the curve and it will be app starved as people focus on where the money really is…. iPad 2.

I just don’t see how this will make much of an impact. Nice features, but a little too late. It will be much like the recently demised Zune I suspect.


Cheap works only with pantyhose, so I’m told. I have always been razed over the cost of my equipment from Apple but, like a German steam engine, it chugs on and on and on while my buds are updating their hardware regularly.
I agree paikinho, but the businesses that will probably use RIM will not be professionals and the regular joe. Maybe great for delivery services, they’ll have their place. Don’t think I’d actually call them tablets or pads. More likely, glorified organisers. The world of handhelds will have its categories. The iPad will probably be a real deal computer replacement with a long life. The eXooms and their kith will be cheap, sad memories like Sony digitals. I hope some Envyboys are lurking about. I’m in a fighting mood.

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