RIM Enters Tablet Space with Playbook

At seven inches in size the new PlayBook tablet from RIM is a hybrid smartphone/tablet – smaller than the iPad but bigger than your favorite smartphone. With front and rear cameras and multitasking support the device leapfrogs the iPad in many ways. And let’s not forget RIM’s legendary enterprise support.

But RIM devices have never been as cool as Apple’s but I would argue the back button on the device makes up for any of the challenges it has on the coolness front. Apple users understand how maddening it is to click on a link in an email, get a web browser then have to hit the home and email icons to get back to their original email. Then again, it is unclear at this point if this tablet has a back button but the feature is on my wish list.

The new tablet further supports HTML5 and Adobe Flash 10.1 and this puts tremendous pressure on Apple to figure out a solid Flash strategy as I can tell you from painful experience, having an iPhone and iPad at hand only to find your banking website requires Flash for the transaction you are attempting makes you feel like trying to drive a sports car with no gas.

Other features of note are 1024×600 screen support, weight of less than a pound, a microUSB connector and WiFi. If you want 3G for now you need a Blackberry to pair the tablet with but you can expect dedicated 3G/4G versions in the future.

The OS is powered with QNX technology – a company famous for real-time UNIX as well as a unique processor stealing technology popular in the late nineties as it allowed applications to “borrow” compute power from other devices on the network.

The front facing camera has 3MP resolution and the rear is rated at 5MP – similar to the iPhone 4. The company is claiming groundbreaking speed via a 1 GHz dual-core processor. Although this claim is perfectly plausible, it is worth noting RIM web browsers have typically been lacking in speed and I look forward to using the device myself to see how much progress has been made.

You can get a  feel for the device from the video above and I for one am excited to see it in action. Incidentally, we just received confirmation that Phil Edholm (Vice President, Innovation and Technology Strategy) at Avaya will be at ITEXPO for a special lunch keynote (open to all) Tuesday, Oct 5 from 12:30 to 1:15 to discuss the company’s tablet strategy which includes the Flare user interface which I recently covered in a live blog post.

I hope to see you at the event. It should be incredible – you have to see the Avaya device and Flare interface for yourself. And you will have unique access to Phil who is a true tech visionary.

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