RIM adds additional wireless capability to the PlayBook tablets, introducing models to run on LTE and HSPA+ networks.
maker Research In Motion announced at the Mobile World Congress here plans to
launch two additional BlackBerry 4G PlayBook tablets during the second half of
2011, featuring support for LTE and HSPA+ high-speed wide area wireless
networks. This brings the company's planned PlayBook line to four models,
adding to previous announcements of the PlayBook with WiFi and 4G PlayBook with
WiFi plus WiMax connectivity.
"The BlackBerry PlayBook tablet is already being widely recognized for
its superior performance, rich Web experience, enterprise readiness and deep
support for Web standards and open development tools," said Mike
Lazaridis, president and co-CEO at RIM. "We
are now building on the PlayBook's many advantages with support for additional
4G networks that will allow enhanced business opportunities for carriers and
developers and unparalleled mobile experiences for users."
The tablets are designed for enhanced Web browsing, including support for
Adobe Flash and HD multimedia, as well as with security features and enterprise
support. In addition to the WiFi and 4G connectivity, each tablet can support
Bluetooth tethering, mobile hot spots (for example, MiFi, smartphone or other
portable devices equipped to act as a mobile WiFi hot spot) and BlackBerry
Bridge, which connects a PlayBook and BlackBerry smartphone to allow users to
securely access all the data already being pushed to a BlackBerry smartphone.
Measuring less than half an inch thick and weighing less than a pound, the
PlayBook features a 7-inch high-resolution display and is jointly fueled by a 1GHz
dual-core processor and the new BlackBerry Tablet OS, which is positioned to
eventually replace the OS powering the company's line of smartphones. The
device also includes dual HD cameras for video capture and video conferencing
that can record HD video at the same time, and an HDMI-out port for presenting
creations on external displays.
The PlayBook is compatible (out-of-the-box) with BlackBerry Enterprise
Server. When connected over Bluetooth, the smartphone content is viewable on
the tablet, but the content actually remains stored on the BlackBerry
smartphone and is only temporarily cached on the tablet (and subject to IT
policy controls). The Neutrino-based microkernel architecture in the company's
operating system delivers Common Criteria EAL 4+ security protection, is POSIX
compliant (enabling portability of C-based code), and supports Open GL for 2D
and 3D graphics.
Earlier this month, a Bloomberg news report quoted three unnamed sources
that confirmed the tablet will also have access to the library of Google
Android applications, with the software available as soon as the second half of
this year. The development, if true, could be a boost for Google, which would
add another pipeline for its applications, as well as for RIM, which has been
lagging behind tablet competitors when it comes to app development.
According to survey data posted
by Appcelerator and research firm IDC in
January, the percentage "very interested" in developing for the
PlayBook platform has increased from 16 percent in September 2010 to 28 percent
this month. By contrast, interest in developing for the iPad rose from 84
percent to 87 percent during that same period. Interest in Android tablets bumped
from 62 percent to 74 percent, according to the report.
Nathan Eddy is Associate Editor, Midmarket, at eWEEK.com. Before joining eWEEK.com, Nate was a writer with ChannelWeb and he served as an editor at FierceMarkets. He is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.