updated 09:00 am EDT, Tue April 19, 2011
RIM ships BlackBerry PlayBook to stores
RIM on Tuesday began shipping its long-in-coming BlackBerry PlayBook. The seven-inch tablet should now be at Best Buy, Staples, and other stores. Only Wi-Fi versions are available so far and cost $499, $599, and $699 for 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB of storage respectively.
PlayBooks will start shipping with 3G and 4G in the summer for Sprint and other carriers.
The slate has had a long and at times rocky history on its road to launch. RIM unveiled it over six months ago in a bid to get early developer support but drew flak for how it marketed the device from the start. Almost all of the early promotion was spent attacking the original iPad and touting the PlayBook's faster performance and dual cameras despite it being months away. By shipping time, the iPad 2 had already launched weeks earlier and eliminated a large part of RIM's arguments.
The design has been given mixed reviews from the outset. Praise has been given to the fast hardware, build quality and much improved tablet interface with real multitasking. Criticism has been leveled at the lack of native e-mail, contacts, and calendars on launch, all of which limit the audience. Battery life is also less than promised and lasts for about seven hours rather than the 10 or more achievable on the iPad 2.