Watch out Apple iPad 2, the Wi-Fi only BlackBerry PlayBook tablet is available now for preorder at Best Buy, Research In Motion announced Tuesday. The device will hit Best Buy stores April 19. The PlayBook comes in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB storage flavors priced at $500, $600 and $700, respectively. The new tablet device will also be coming soon to more than 20,000 retail outlets in the United States and Canada including Office Depot, RadioShack, and Staples. Carriers such as AT&T, Sprint, Verizon and regional carriers including Cellular South and Cincinnati Bell will also sell the device. It is not clear whether outlets beyond Best Buy will get the PlayBook on April 19.
PlayBook Specs: Where's the 3G?
The Blackberry PlayBook weighs nearly one pound and is less than a half-inch thick. RIM's tablet features a 7-inch screen with 1024-by-600 resolution, 1 GHz ARM Cortex A9 dual-core processor, 1GB RAM, 1080p HDMI output, 3 megapixel front-facing camera and 5 megapixel rear-facing camera, 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 2.1+EDR.
The PlayBook available for preorder at Best Buy does not have a 3G option, but RIM is expected to unveil 3G + Wi-Fi and 4G + Wi-Fi versions in the future. In February, RIM said 4G PlayBooks would arrive during the second half of 2011 for LTE networks such as Verizon's, HSPA+ networks such as AT&T's and WiMax networks such as Sprint's.
PlayBook vs. iPad 2
Apple's iPad pricing scheme was a benchmark that many competing devices have had a hard time beating including the Motorola Xoom (3G +Wi-Fi) and the Samsung Galaxy Tab. That makes the PlayBook one of the first devices to match the iPad's pricing, along with the 32 GB Wi-Fi only Xoom launching March 27 for $600. But while the PlayBook matches the iPad 2's price it doesn't beat the iPad 2's 9.7-inch display, opting for a smaller 7-inch screen instead.
Nevertheless, early impressions of the PlayBook give the device thumbs up for its responsive touchscreen and well-built hardware. But analysts aren't confident that RIM's device, or any other tablet out this year, including Hewlett Packard's TouchPad, can challenge the iPad 2 in 2011. With the PlayBook now available for preorder, RIM's tablet prospects should become clearer in the coming weeks.