RIM BlackBerry 4G PlayBook Coming From Sprint in Summer

RIM's PlayBook is coming to Sprint's 4G network this summer, the companies said during the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show. Wi-Fi only version will come this quarter.

Research In Motion on Jan. 6 tapped Sprint to launch its controversial BlackBerry PlayBook tablet later this summer.

RIM's PlayBook, the company's answer to Apple's iPad and Google Android-based tablets that proved popular in 2010, will include the new Blackberry Tablet OS based on QNX software.

The 7-inch-display device, which the companies are marketing as a "professional-grade tablet," will be powered by a 1GHZ dual core processor and sport 1GB of RAM. Adobe Flash Player 10.1, Adobe Mobile Air and HTML5 applications will all be supported.

For the PlayBook, RIM pledges tight integration with its Blackberry smartphones, as well as the company's proven enterprise security and mobile-device management.

Though the PlayBook will include WiFi connectivity, Sprint said in a press statement that the BlackBerry 4G PlayBook will be the first BlackBerry PlayBook model to include wide-area wireless connectivity.

The wireless carrier, whose 4G network currently spans 71 markets in the U.S., claimed this will give customers download speeds as much as 10 times faster than today's typical 3G networks.

Sprint said it will reveal pricing and launch-date details later this year.

RIM, which showed off the device in earnest for the first time on Jan. 5 at the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show, has had to defend its PlayBook and its corresponding strategy from negative press.

After fending off reports that the PlayBook suffered from poor battery life (3 hours compared with 10 for iPad and 6 for the Samsung Galaxy Tab), RIM published a blog post and video to tout the tablet.

The WiFi-only PlayBook will ship in the first quarter, satiating analysts who expected delays.