RIM To Sell LTE 4G PlayBook Tablet
Research In Motion announces new LTE 4G-compatible PlayBook. Tablet goes on sale in Canada August 9, but it's unclear when it will be sold in the U.S.
The 4G PlayBook sports nearly identical specs to the original version of the tablet, which first shipped back in April 2011. The main addition to the tablet, of course, is support for HSPA+ and LTE wireless networks. According to RIM, customers of Canada's Rogers, Telus, and Bell networks will have a first crack at the new tablet, which goes on sale August 9 for an unspecified price.
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RIM said the tablet will be available from carriers in the U.S., Europe, South Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean in the coming months, but it didn't specify which carriers would offer the device.
[ How does RIM plan to meet the challenges that lie ahead? See RIM CEO Faces Investors, Charts Path To BB10. ]
According to the spec sheet for the new tablet, it supports LTE in the 700 and 1700MHz bands. That means it should be compatible with the LTE networks run by AT&T, T-Mobile (when it launches in 2013), and possibly Verizon Wireless. It supports HSPA+ in the 800, 900, 1700, 1900, and 2100MHz bands, which makes it compatible with the 3G networks run by AT&T and T-Mobile in the U.S., though not fully with AT&T's as it lacks support for 850MHz.
The new 4G PlayBook will only come in one variant as far as internal storage goes. It will have 32GB on board for movies, photos, music, and, oh yeah, those work files you're supposed to get back to your boss at some point. RIM killed off the 16GB PlayBook in June.
The 4G PlayBook ships with PlayBook OS 2.0, and is powered by dual 1.5 GHz processors and 1GB of RAM. It has a 5-megapixel main camera and a 3-megapixel user-facing camera for video chats. The display still measures 7 inches, and has 1024 x 600 pixels.
Without pricing details, it is hard to gauge the worth of the 4G LTE PlayBook. The original PlayBook, which RIM developed at the expense of its smartphone business, was not exactly a smash hit. Over the last 15 months, RIM has sold fewer than 2 million of them, many of which were purchased for less than the full $499 retail price. Sure, the PlayBook is really secure, which is good for government and enterprise users, but the app story doesn't compare to that of the Apple iPad or even Android tablets.
For the enterprise that's fully invested in BlackBerry and remains committed to RIM and its services, perhaps the 4G LTE PlayBook tablet makes sense (especially since it includes email). But until U.S. network operators get around to providing pricing and availability details, it might be best to weigh other market options.
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