RIM's BlackBerry PlayBook now has a Bluetooth-supported mini keyboard, in another attempt by the company to spur interest in the tablet.
Motion has introduced a keyboard that connects to its PlayBook tablet via
BlueTooth. Known as the BlackBerry Mini Keyboard, the $119 accessory includes
128-bit encryption and up to 30 days battery life on a single charge.
comes just as a new Federal Communications Commission document revealed a
version of the PlayBook with either Evolved High-Speed Packet Access (HSPA+) or
4G Long-Term Evolution (LTE) support. This version of the tablet has been
tipped previously to be coming with an upgraded series of specs such as near-field
communication (NFC) and a dual-core 1.5GHz processor under the hood, noted SlashgearMarch 14. This device (or both versions of the device,
rather), has been leaked previously via a RIM road map which noted the device
to be scheduled for mid-2012.
RIM pushed out
its long-awaited PlayBook software upgrade Feb. 21. PlayBook OS 2.0 includes a
number of features demanded by users ever since the 7-inch tablet made its
debut in April 2011. These include built-in email, calendar and contacts; a
variety of new apps; and social-networking integration with calendar and
Bridge app, which lets users tether a BlackBerry smartphone to their
PlayBookthe better to view things on the latters larger screenhad likewise
been updated, with a BlackBerry able to act as a wireless keyboard and mouse
for the PlayBook.
advancements come despite anemic sales for the PlayBook. In December, RIM
announced it would take a $485 million charge against its PlayBook inventory,
or $360 million after applicable taxes. In a Dec. 2 statement, RIM cited
competitive dynamics of the market and the delay of the PlayBook OS 2.0
upgrade as reasons behind the write-down.
the PlayBook continues to play a vital role in RIMs current strategy. The
tablets operating system is based on QNX, which the Canadian device maker acquired
in 2010. Later this year, in a bid to reassert its position within the
smartphone market, RIM plans on releasing a line of so-called super phones
running the QNX-based BlackBerry 10 operating system.
sizable apps ecosystem for those BlackBerry 10 devices, RIM executives have
been encouraging third-party developers to build apps for the PlayBook, with an
eye toward porting those wares to the smartphone platform once it finally hits
meantime, they almost certainly hope that a physical keyboardalong with some
software tweakswill increase consumer and business interest in the PlayBook.
Nicholas Kolakowski on Twitter
Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.