RIM's BlackBerry PlayBook tablet now comes with LTE cellular connectivity.
The struggling mobile device company Thursday announced that a 32GB model of the PlayBook will be available with an integrated LTE radio. Initially, it will be offered starting Aug. 9 in Canada on LTE networks from Bell, Rogers, and Telus. Other carriers in the U.S. and elsewhere "are expected" to add the tablet in coming months, according to a RIM statement.
RIM didn't provide pricing, which is set by the carriers, according to a spokeswoman. Rogers currently offers a Wi-Fi version of PlayBook for just less than $300 (U.S.).
Apart from the LTE radio, RIM's tablet is otherwise unchanged: a 7-inch, 1024 x 600 pixel, capacitive multitouch display; an ARM Cortex A9-based, dual-core 1.5GHz CPU; 3 megapixel front-facing camera with a 5 megapixel rear camera; support for 1080p HD video; HDMI port; microUSB port; 802.11a/b/g/n WiFi; and Bluetooth 2.1. The tablet is 5.1- by 7.6-inches, 0.4-inches thick, and weighs about 0.9 pounds.
It also runs the latest version of the PlayBook OS, Version 2.0, introduced in February. It added native, BlackBerry email and calendar applications, which automatically integrates with your social networking contacts and calendar features; and a unified inbox that handles work and personal email accounts, along with updates from a variety of popular social networks.
The heart of Version 2.0 is the QNX real-time OS, which will also be the basis for BlackBerry 10, the next-generation smartphone firmware RIM had planned to release late in 2012. The company recently announced that the firmware, and the new smartphones running it, will be delayed until early 2013.
The initial release of PlayBook in 2011 was underwhelming, with mixed reviews and slow uptake by buyers, both consumer and business. In fall of 2011, RIM cut the price of all three models by $300, with the 16GB Wi-Fi unit starting at $199.
John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World.
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