September 28, 2010

Research in Motion previewed its new iPad-challenging PlayBook tablet yesterday; the device will launch early next year. In a video, the company shows the small (5.1" by 7.6") and lightweight (less than a pound) tablet being used for fun and business — to store music, photos, presentations, movies, contacts, and documents, for instant messaging, for making travel reservations.

RIM is emphasizing the "enterprise ready" aspects of the device, saying it provides multitasking, "advanced security," "out of the box enterprise support" and a development platform for IT departments and developers.

The tablet has a one-GHz dual-core processor and an operating system that is said to support symmetric multiprocessing. (Apple's new iPad processor also runs at one GHz.) The device should be able to display a range of website content, including games and video; it supports Adobe Flash Player 10.1, Adobe Mobile AIR and HTML-5. It includes dual HD cameras for video capture and video conferencing that can both record HD video at the same time, and has an HDMI-out port for presenting on external displays.

The New York Times pointed out that while the new device requires no cell phone plan, it is BlackBerry-dependent. "Bluetooth was mentioned and Wi-Fi is a possibility, but the PlayBook is designed to wirelessly tether to a BlackBerry smartphone in order to get on the Internet and pull in contact, calendar and email data from the phone to the tablet," Sam Grobart writes.

It's easy to see this device being adopted at BlackBerry-saturated companies. But over, it's hard to see this tablet displacing the larger, popular and standalone iPad.