PlayBook Software Update to Finally Add Native E-Mail

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Research In Motion is looking to add more punch to its PlayBook tablet -- along with competitive pricing -- to spur sales.

RIM shipped just 200,000 PlayBooks in the second quarter, down from 500,000 last quarter, when it started selling the tablets. The company didn’t say how many of the 700,000 tablets sold reached consumers’ hands, and not store shelves and depots.

Despite weaker sales numbers for the PlayBook, the company promised a software update in October that would fix the main shortcomings of its tablet. Overdue since this summer, the PlayBook software update is set to finally include native e-mail, calendar, and contacts capabilities, as noted by Pocket-Lint.

The PlayBook was panned by reviewers at launch over its lack of a native e-mail client, along with other software shortcomings related to the QNX OS running on the tablet. PlayBook owners have had to stay tethered to their BlackBerry phones for the functionality they haven’t been getting on their tablets.

The Android App Player should also debut in the upcoming PlayBook update, which, as the name implies, would allow users to run applications designed for Google’s Android OS. Even when the PlayBook will be able to run Android apps, it’s unclear why users wouldn’t just opt for an Android tablet instead.

To add more punch to the PlayBook, RIM would also launch a BlackBerry Video store with some 10,000 movies and TV shows available to buy. PlayBook’s display is only 7-inch, but the tablet has an HDMI-out port, so users would be able to play these videos onto their TVs as well.

The next step for RIM to spur sales of the PlayBook will be to cut its price, according to Boy Genius Report, in the form of rebates and incentive programs for enterprise sales. On Amazon, the PlayBook is already discounted from $499 to $381 for the 16GB model.

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At a Glance
  • RIM's BlackBerry PlayBook looks promising, but the operating system's rough patches and a lack of app selection are reasons to think twice.


    • Sharp display has vivid, accurate colors
    • High-definition video playback impresses
    • Light weight makes this conducive to hold in hand


    • Initial software is buggy and lacks polish
    • No integrated e-mail, contacts, or calendaring
    • Awkwardly designed onscreen keyboard
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