BlackBerry 'PlayBook' Tablet Due April 10

Dennis Faas's picture

Days after Fujitsu unveiled a business-class Windows 7 tablet computer, BlackBerry maker Research in Motion (RIM) on Tuesday provided more information about its own slate device, the PlayBook. Most notable about RIM's New York City presentation was the announcement of a firm launch date for the hardware: April 10.

PlayBook Uses QNX Operating System, Linux-Based

PlayBook doesn't use Android nor does it employ Windows 7. Instead, its operating system is called QNX, and it's largely unproven next to the current market competition. QNX has been around for quite some time (1982, to be exact) and has since then made substantial progress.

Earlier versions of the QNX operating system were small enough to fit on a single 1.44MB floppy disk, which included the operating system and web browser -- an incredible feat for its time.

Early PlayBook Reviews a Mixed Bag

Much like the Apple iPad (or any number of upcoming Win7 slates), the PlayBook boasts a nifty 7-inch touch screen that allows users to scroll, swipe, and pinch in order to manipulate windows on screen. (Source:

Several insiders got a chance to play around with the PlayBook earlier this week and reports are fairly mixed. Reviewers liked the device's keyboard, which can be easily used while holding the PlayBook with both hands. Essentially, this means it's not onerous to type on RIM's tablet while standing up.

Less impressive were other touch screen functions. Some analysts reported having trouble getting QNX applications to recognize finger taps, and in one case the PlayBook refused to acknowledge a "clear entire field" command at the end of a URL field, meaning a lengthy web address had to be deleted manually. These criticisms are somewhat picky, but they do demonstrate a few rough edges.

More problematic may be complaints that web pages using Flash loaded at a less-than-speedy pace. This could have had something to do with an overcrowded WiFi network at the NYC event, however. (Source:

Compatibility Concerns Linger

It's still unclear how apps will work with the PlayBook, since RIM hasn't confirmed whether or not Android applications will be compatible.

It's also unclear if RIM will integrate email and calendar applications with the BlackBerry mobile device alone or allow third-party app developers to build something that will work with other smartphones.

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