It’s always dangerous to judge a new tech product from a demo. It’s even more dangerous to judge one from a canned video and a features list. But here at BlackBerry DevCon in San Francisco, RIM just showed a video of its BlackPad tablet–which turns out to be called the BlackBerry PlayBook, and which the company is calling “the first professional tablet”–and revealed some of the key specs. And from what we know so far, it looks mighty cool–like “this is the most interesting-sounding iPad rival so far” cool.
Here’s the video we just saw:
Unlike the disappointingly wimpy BlackBerry Torch smartphone, the PlayBook has some, um, seriously serious-sounding specs:
- 9.7mm thick (that’s thinner than an iPad) and less than a pound
- 7″ touchscreen with 1024-by-600 resolution (like Samsung’s Galaxy Tab–lower resolution than the iPad, but higher dots-per-inch)
- Dual-core 1-GHz CPU and hardware accelerated graphics
- 1GB of RAM
- HD cameras on the front and back
- USB and HDMI ports (the latter of which can display a separate image from the touchscreen)
- WebKit, HTML5, FlashPlayer 10.1, 1080p video capability
- Tethering (at least with BlackBerries!)
- The venerable QNX operating system, which RIM bought last year, with a software layer that gives it a BlackBerry-like feel and at least some degree of compatibility with the current BlackBerry platform.
For the moment, that’s as close to a tablet-hardware dream list as I can imagine–and while it doesn’t guarantee a thing about the ultimate user experience it surely won’t hurt.
The interface? Once again, videos can be deceptive, especially ones which, like this one, seem to show animated demos rather than the real product actually being used. And other recent RIM products–the Torch, the Storms I and II–have been more impressive in theory than in reality. But the PlayBook sure looks promising–and that’s more than you can say about the majority of iPad rivals announced or rumored to date.
RIM didn’t say anything about pricing (I can’t imagine it’ll be dirt cheap) and is vague on a release date–“early 2011” for the U.S. and the second quarter for other markets.
Lots more thoughts to come, and I’d love to hear yours–I hope to get a close-up look at one before the conference is over.