RIM BlackBerry PlayBook Debut Looms: 10 Reasons to Pass it Up

News Analysis: Research In Motion is launching its BlackBerry PlayBook tablet next month. But the PlayBook looks pricey compared to the competition and it lacks a decisive feature advantage.

Research In Motion has finally unveiled the final details on its upcoming tablet, the BlackBerry PlayBook. The device will launch on April 19 at a starting price of $499 for 16GB of storage. Those who wish to have 32GB or 64GB of storage will be set back $599 or $699, respectively.

With the launch details now nailed down, the time has come for both consumers and enterprise customers to start thinking about whether or not the BlackBerry PlayBook really is for them. On one hand, the device seems to be a fine alternative to Apple's iPad 2 or the Motorola Xoom. But after further inspection, the BlackBerry PlayBook seems to leave much to be desired. And for the most part, customers will be disappointed by what they find.

At this point, it doesn't seem that the BlackBerry PlayBook is a must-have. Read on to find out why:

1. The iPad 2 is better

Compare the iPad 2 to the BlackBerry PlayBook, and it's hard to choose the latter. For one, the iPad 2 comes with a larger screen size. It also has an operating system that the market knows quite well. Moreover, the iPad 2 comes with 3G connectivity built-in. In far too many ways, the iPad 2 trumps RIM's alternative. And for many customers, that's enough for them to choose Apple's tablet.

2. The 4G option is coming

Why should customers opt for the WiFi-only BlackBerry PlayBook when they know that 4G versions that are capable of connecting to LTE and HSPA+ networks will launch later this year? In order to connect to the Web while on-the-go with the soon-to-be-launched PlayBook, users must tether the device to a BlackBerry. It's not convenient, and that could prove to be a liability for RIM.

3. The 7-inch display is a problem

Small displays are a problem in today's mobile marketplace. Yes, RIM is saying that the 7-inch screen on the BlackBerry PlayBook will help make the device more mobile for enterprise customers. But, that's not likely to convince buyers in either the enterprise or consumer markets. Larger displays make all the difference in the tablet space. It's why Apple has a 9.7-inch display and the Motorola Xoom comes with a 10.1-inch screen. As Apple CEO Steve Jobs noted in an earnings call last year, 7-inch displays just don't cut it in the tablet space.

4. Will the enterprise like the OS?

RIM has said that the BlackBerry PlayBook is designed with enterprise customers in mind. But perhaps the company should re-examine its focus. The corporate world is resistant to change, and it likes working with a known quantity. The BlackBerry PlayBook will run QNX Software's Tablet OS. It's an operating system that has yet to be used in the wild. And although RIM has said that testers are happy with it, the corporate world will be suspect of a brand-new operating system. Unfortunately for RIM, it probably should be.

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger is a longtime freelance contributor to several technology and business publications. Over his career, Don has written about everything from geek-friendly gadgetry to issues of privacy...