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A Competitor to iPad 2 and Android Honeycomb
Although much of the tablet-buying public is getting excited about iPad 2 and Android Honeycomb tablets, there is a third party to consider, an enemy at the gate entering the tablet market for the first time but with an impressive pedigree in producing attractive mobile devices.
The Playbook is due for release around the world during 2011, bringing a whole new element to the tablet battle. Offering high-end hardware, impressive build quality and compatibility with various Android apps, the Playbook has the potential to deal a bit of damage to Apple and Google, thanks to RIM’s existing user base, many of whom are corporate customers.
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US Release Information
In the USA and Canada, the Playbook has been available for some weeks, with all models released there on April 19th, 2011. There are three models of Playbook, all 3G and Wi-Fi capable, and it seems that at least one of these has experienced some problems.
RIM released the Playbook in 16 GB, 32 GB and 64 GB models, but announced in May that around 1000 16 GB devices will be recalled due software issues.
The Blackberry tablet can be purchased in the USA at various price points commensurate with the device spec. The 16 GB tablet is $499, the 32 GB is $599 and the 64 GB device is $699 when purchased direct from RIM, and at present the device is not available via any carriers, although Sprint and Verizon have both announced that they will be selling at least one model.
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UK Release Information
Things are slightly different in the UK, where the BlackBerry Playbook release date is June 16th, 2011, and the price again depends on the model.
Two key electronic retailers (carphonewarehouse.com and bestbuy.co.uk) are offering the Wi-Fi only tablet for pre-order, with a starting price of £399 for the 16 GB model, £479 for the 32 GB tablet and £559 for the 64 GB device.
For a Wi-Fi only device (RIM expects existing BlackBerry phone owners to be the prime buyers of this device, hence the lack of 3G) this price range seems expensive, although the devices features a high definition display, HDMI out and front and back facing cameras.
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Can I Buy the BlackBerry Tablet Overseas?
RIM is intending the Playbook to be a competitor in the tablet market, and as such is making it available all over the world. In addition to the USA, Canada and the UK, the Playbook will be available in Europe, the Middle East, India, Japan and Australia.
However as yet prices and retailers are still to be announced, as are the models that will be available in these territories, so until such information is available your best course of action is to visit the BlackBerry Playbook website and sign up for updates for news relevant to your area.
Don't be surprised to see the Playbook take a backseat to the iPad 2 and Honeycomb tablets, however, as these are considered the more popular items at present. If you don't see what you're looking for, remember to ask the sales assistant!
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Horn, Leslie. "RIM's BlackBerry PlayBook Launching in U.K. on June 16", http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2385500,00.asp
Image credit: http://www.rim.com/news/kit/media/images/product/playbook/PlayBook_front.jpg