BlackBerry PlayBook starts at $499, same as iPad; preorders available for April 19 launch
The BlackBerry PlayBook will start at $499, the same price as the Apple iPad, the current tablet-market leader.
And, Research In Motion also announced Tuesday morning that its 7-inch touchscreen tablet is also now available for preorder through Best Buy before the April 19 launch.
The PlayBook will be offered in three models with Wi-Fi connectivity: a 16-gigabyte unit for $499, 32-gigabyte for $599 or 64-gigabyte of storage for $699. This is the same storage-size-to-price structure as Apple's iPad tablet with Wi-Fi, which features a 9.7-inch touchscreen.
In the U.S., the BlackBerry PlayBook will be sold at: AT&T, Best Buy, Cbeyond, Cellular South, Cincinnati Bell, Office Depot, RadioShack, ShopBlackBerry.com, Staples, Sprint, Verizon Wireless and BlackBerry from Wireless Giant, RIM said in a statement.
In Canada, where Research In Motion is based, the PlayBook will be available at: Bell, Best Buy, Chapters / Indigo, Costco, Future Shop, Mobilicity, MTS Allstream, Rogers, Sasktel, Sears, ShopBlackBerry.com, Staples, Telus, Tbooth Wireless, the Source, Videotron, Wal-Mart, Wind Mobile, Wireless etc. and Wireless Wave.
The $499 entry level price seems to have been one of the iPad's strongest selling points, with many competitors such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab and the Motorola Xoom coming in at a higher cost and not offering Wi-Fi-only models.
The PlayBook, like the Galaxy Tab, features a noticeably smaller and more pocket-friendly form with its smaller screen than the iPad.
The BlackBerry tablet will weigh a little less than a pound and be less than 1/2-inch thick, feature a 1-gigahertz dual-core processor, 1 gigabyte of RAM, 1080p HDMI output to a high-definition TV, dual 1080p HD cameras for photos and video with a 3-megapixel camera up-front and 5-megapixel camera on the back. (The iPad 2 has two cameras, but both are less than 1 megapixel in resolution.)
Research In Motion hasn't yet announced a launch date for a Wi-Fi and 3G model of the PlayBook, but it is expected and it's the 3G-capable model that wireless carriers such as AT&T and Verizon are likely to sell.
-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Photo: A BlackBerry Playbook is demoed at the 2011 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Jan. 6, 2011.Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images