Everything You Wanted To Know About The BlackBerry PlayBook Tablet

With its' flagship product, the BlackBerry, losing ground in the Smartphone arena, Research In Motion is taking the battle to another arena: tablets.

It's time to see what is the BlackBerry PlayBook all about! Here is a summary of the new BlackBerry Tablet that includes a powerful 1GHz dual core processor with 1GB of RAM, true multi-tasking, two HD cameras, full 1080p HD playback in widescreen, and a complete web experience with HTML5 and Flash 10.1.



Everything you wanted to know about the BlackBerry PlayBook Tablet:

PlayBook? Horrible! The first thing that comes in mind is an unprofessional device, aimed towards sports or dramatic plays… Is it for business? Is it for playing? I actually liked the rumored name BlackPad more…


  • 7" LCD display, 1024 x 600 screen resolution
  • 5.1" x 7.6" x 0.4" (130mm x 194mm x 10mm) - that's Less than half an inch thick
  • 0.9 lbs (400g)
  • Multi-touch capacitive screen
  • 1 GHz dual-core processor (Symmetrical dual-core processing)
  • 1GB RAM
  • Built-in microUSB connector, Micro HDMI, and DLNA media streaming
  • Wi-Fi® 802.11 a/b/g/n
  • 3 MP high definition forward-facing camera
  • 5 MP high definition rear-facing camera
  • Codec support for superior media playback, creation and video calling
  • 1080p HD video; H.264, MPEG4, WMV HDMI video output

Missing: GPS,3G (no direct cellular network although you can connect it to your BlackBerry smartphone via Bluetooth).


Smaller than the iPad, slightly bigger than the Samsung Galaxy Tab (Must view this video if you like Android), approximately the size of the Sharp Galapagos Android based tablet. See image below (source: Gizmodo).


Operating System:
The PlayBook operating system is called BlackBerry Tablet OS which is not the same as the known BlackBerry OS, it is actually an OS which RIM has bought from a company called QNX Software (used in BMW’s and the USA Armies Crusher tank as well as in Cisco Systems Inc., General Electric Co. and Caterpillar Inc).

The operating system offers the following capabilities:

  • Powerful, user-friendly QNX technology - it's what the World Wide Web runs on
  • On-screen keyboard
  • True multi-tasking

It supports a whole bunch of standard platforms and technologies, like POSIX OS, SMP, Open GL, BlackBerry 6, WebKit, Java, Adobe Flash and AIR, along with RIM's new BlackBerry WebWorks platform. Apps written for WebWorks will run on BlackBerry 6 or the PlayBook, while Java makes it easier for developers to port Java-based BlackBerry 6 apps. Oh, and OpenGL means there's serious potential for graphically intense games.

Web Browser:
Seems like the web browser tries to bring everything that is truly powerful nowadays with Flash and HTML5 support:

  • Full Adobe® Flash® 10.1 enabled
  • Built-in support for HTML 5


Without seeing too much, it looks (from the pictures) that the multi-tasking will be done via "cards" similarly to the way it's done in Palm's webOS.


Development Platform:
The development platform seems to include few possibilities:

  • Rapid development environment
  • Reliable BlackBerry Tablet OS, powered by QNX technology
  • Supports POSIX OS, SMP, Open GL, BlackBerry® 6, WebKit, Adobe® Flash®, Java® and Adobe Mobile AIR

RIM will begin working with developers and select corporate customers next month to begin development and early testing efforts.

The BlackBerry Tablet OS SDK is planned for release in the coming weeks and developers can register for early access at www.blackberry.com/developers/tabletos.

Special Capabilities:
When comparing the BlackBerry PlayBook with Apple's iPad there are immediate advantages to the PlayBook around the complete web browsing support, the true multitasking, and some specifications like the 2 HD cameras etc.

Integration with BlackBerry Smartphones:
For organizations with a clear BlackBerry strategy, the PlayBook would be a perfect fit as it can use the same subscriptions and when pairing the Playbook with an existing Blackberry smartphone brings all that data on a bigger screen. Still using BlackBerry BES, and RIM's powerful security.

You can pair the BlackBerry PlayBook with a BlackBerry smartphone via secure Bluetooth connection for full access to:

  • Push technology
  • Email, calendar, BBM™, tasks, documents and more
  • BlackBerry security and data efficiency


The BlackBerry PlayBook is expected to be available in retail outlets and other channels in the United States in early 2011 with rollouts in other international markets beginning in (calendar) Q2.

Open Questions:
We have yet to see a meaningful video demonstration. There are, many open questions that may bring success or failure to the BlackBerry PlayBook:

  1. How mature is the BlackBerry Tablet OS given that it's version 1, no smartphone experience, etc.
  2. User Interface: you cannot compete with the iPad without an amazing user interface. We haven't seen anything yet…
  3. Price
  4. Battery life – with such impressive specs, that could be a problematic area.
  5. Apps: is it going to be purely web (given that Flash and Html5 are supported)? Or Java? How many apps will be available when the product is officially released?

Those questions are still open, I'm sure we will get some answers soon, and the rest will be given in a few months. For now it looks like RIM has made a bold move (and not like the last BlackBerry Bold) forward. 

Here's a vide preview:

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