Sign up for our newsletter
Technology / Software

RIM launches new 4G PlayBook

The new 4G LTE BlackBerry PlayBook looks identical to its predecessor, but now supports 4G LTE mobile networks. Whether this is the PlayBook 2 that CBR exclusively revealed was still under development late last year, is unclear.

"We’re excited to bring customers the first BlackBerry PlayBook tablet with support for 4G LTE networks," said David Smith, RIM’s Executive Vice President of Mobile Computing.

"The new 4G LTE BlackBerry PlayBook offers a broad range of premium features, including a stunning 7 inch display, front and rear facing HD video cameras, HDMI out and stereo speakers, and it also offers premium performance on high speed cellular networks, helping customers to be more productive than ever and to make the most of their time on the go."

It will feature an unchanged 1024×600 screen at 7-inches, and a slightly faster 1.5Ghz single core processor (the Playbook 1 had 1GHz). RAM is unchanged at 1GB. The PlayBook 2 will also come with 32GB only, no other storage sizes are available. The camera remains unchanged. It will run the flawed PlayBook OS 2.0.

White papers from our partners

The first PlayBook was released effectively unfinished, and sold poorly. After a OS update that took the best part of a year, many of those issues remain unfixed – such as a proper BlackBerry Enterprise Server email client. The company took a $485m writedown on the unsold inventory.

It is safe to say that, rather than a completely new model, this is simply a PlayBook 1 with 4G capabilities and a new processor. Whether this is a separate project from the PlayBook 2, or simply a re-engineering of unsold PlayBook 1 stock is unclear.

Either way, its technological capabilities are hopelessly out of date. The recently released Google Nexus 7 has a Nvidia Tegra 3 quad core processor at 1.3GHz running at the HD-lite resolution of 1280×800. The Apple iPad 3 is running Apple’s proprietary A5X dual core processor, and has a screen resolution of 2048×1536 on a 10-inch screen. It sold 17 million units in the last quarter – the PlayBook sold little more than a million in its entire existence. It did manage to sell 260,000 in the last quarter after aggressive price cutting.

RIMs app store is also a disaster when compared to Google’s Play or Apple’s App Store. It also doesn’t have much access to music, movies, magazines or books – so its unclear how RIM expects to compete in these areas. It has announced a BlackBerry Video Store, which it hopes will compete. It will also run into the Windows 8 launch in October, which will come with Microsoft’s Surface Tablet.

The new product will be launching in Canada first on August 9, and RIM claims will support LTE networks in major markets, including Europe, otherwise it will utilise 3.5G networks, such as HSPA+.

The company’s new range of BlackBerry 10 smartphones has been repeatedly delayed, and CEO Thorsten Heins has said it will now launch in early 2013.

One of the designers of the BlackBerry 10 OS, which was developed from the PlayBook OS resigned this week. Whether the two announcements are related is unclear.
This article is from the CBROnline archive: some formatting and images may not be present.