Look out, Apple. BlackBerry maker Research in Motion (RIM) is now in the tablet business.
And unlike Apple's highly popular iPad tablet, RIM's BlackBerry PlayBook fully embraces Adobe's Flash as well as Java.
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After a week of rumors, RIM's PlayBook and BlackBerry Tablet OS were formally unveiled at the BlackBerry Developer Conference (DevCon 2010) Monday afternoon in San Francisco.
Due to ship early next year in the United States, PlayBook is 5.1 inches by 7.6 inches by .4 inches with a seven-inch, widescreen display. "The first time you hold it, it just feels right, and you want to take it home," said Mike Lazaridis, president and co-CEO of RIM.
"CIOs can rest assure the BlackBerry PlayBook is absolutely enterprise-ready," featuring integration with the BlackBerry smartphone, said Lazaridis. Users will not need new software, new security, or new IT administration or another data plan, he stressed. The device supports Web browsing, stereo sound, and a media player.
BlackBerry users can pair the BlackBerry and PlayBook using a secure Bluetooth connection.
"BlackBerry PlayBook will support 1080p HD video," Lazaridis said. Non-proprietary HDMI and USB are supported as well.
The device features hardware-accelerated video and, in addition to backing Flash Player 10.1, supports HTML5, Adobe AIR (Adobe Integrated Runtime), and Java. Developers can bring existing BlackBerry 6 Java applications to the PlayBook.
Apple, by contrast, has positioned HTML5 as a replacement for Adobe Flash on its own iPad and iPhone devices, contending Flash is now unnecessary. Apple, which could not be immediately reached for comment about PlayBook, has rejected Java on its own devices as well.
A DevCon 2010 attendee was pleased with what he saw of the device during the introductory presentation.
"I wouldn't mind having one," said Craig West, senior developer with Soti. "I notice it's smaller than I was expecting it to be."
PlayBook features a 1GHz dual core processor taking advantage of symmetric multiprocessing; 1GB of RAM is included along with Wi-Fi (802.11) and Bluetooth support. Front- and rear-facing cameras are featured as well.
The Posix-compliant BlackBerry Tablet OS is built on the QNX Neutrino microkernel architecture, which has been used previously in systems such as planes, trains, cars, and medical equipment.
RIM said it will begin working with developers and select corporate customers next month to work on development and early testing.
This story was updated on September 27, 2009
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