MWC: RIM BlackBerry 4G PlayBook Models to Run on LTE, HSPA+ Networks

RIM adds additional wireless capability to the PlayBook tablets, introducing models to run on LTE and HSPA+ networks.

BARCELONA, Spain-BlackBerry 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.