update Research in Motion’s BlackBerry PlayBook tablet will launch through all of Australia’s major mobile carriers as well as retailer Harvey Norman in three different models from 20 June, the Canadian company said today, with recommended retail prices starting at $579.
Featuring a 1GHz dual-core processor, 1GB RAM and up to 64GB internal storage, the PlayBook has similar specifications to a number of other tablets available and currently launching in the Australian market, although it is smaller than most, with a 7″ display. Most tablets on the market today offer a 10″ screen. In addition, it runs RIM’s own operating system — not a version of Google’s Android platform. The company has been demonstrating the device in Australia for the past several months, and has launched it in the US and Canada, starting from US$499.
Most of the Australian pricing for the PlayBook remains unclear, with a RIM this morning being unable to provide pricing beyond the $579 entry level price. The device will be available in three models — with 16GB, 32GB or 64GB of included storage, for recommended retail prices of $579, $689 and $799 respectively. “Carriers will announce availability and pricing closer to their launch date,” the company said.
A spokesperson was not immediately able to say why the company’s Australian pricing was higher than its US pricing, given the comparable value of the two countries’ pricing. In the US, the PlayBook retails for recommended pricing of US$499 (AU$465), US$599 (AU$559) and US$699 (AU$652).
“The launch of the BlackBerry PlayBook is a highly anticipated event for both consumers and business users in Australia and we are proud to deliver this standout tablet to the marketplace,” said RIM Australia managing director Adele Beachley this morning. “It offers an ultra-portable design with cutting-edge hardware features, one of the world’s most robust and flexible operating systems, advanced security capabilities and true multi-tasking.”
“We are excited to provide customers with the opportunity to check out the BlackBerry PlayBook first hand at their carriers’ stores or retailers across the country.”
Reviews internationally of the PlayBook have been somewhat mixed. Engadget wrote that the PlayBook’s hardware was solid, but that its software was still being developed, while CNET wrote that the release of the gadget showed RIM meant business in the tablet wars currently being fought between Apple and a number of companies building tablets based on Android.
Gizmodo agreed that the tablet was still being developed, but in many ways, was still more polished and usable than comparable devices such as Motorola’s Xoom, which also recently launched in Australia through Telstra.
The PlayBook does lack one notable feature which most of the current crop of tablets in Australia do offer — the ability to connect to a 3G mobile network directly. The device can be tethered with a BlackBerry smartphone for 3G access, however, and can also connect to Wi-Fi networks; meaning it will be able to utilise the shared 3G connections of other smartphones using Wi-Fi. This is a feature of many Android devices, as well as Apple’s iPhone.
Image credit: Research in Motion