Expanding the PlayBook
Two of the predominant themes of this year's CES have been address in one announcement from RIM. While teasing a few more details of its forthcoming BlackBerry Playbook tablet, it revealed that a 4G version of it will also launch this year, in the US on the Sprint network.
Before we get into what few further details have been released about the PlayBook, we must briefly dwell on the semantics around the use of the term 4G. Sprint's 4G network is based on WiMAX, although it seems strangely reluctant to state as much in any of its literature, while Verizon's is LTE and AT&T seems to think HSPA+ also qualifies.
All these different technologies presumably offer different speeds, so we're in danger of 4G becoming a meaningless marketing term. If consumers (and commentators for that matter) feel they're being misled the use of 4G it's in real danger of becoming devalued, not just as a definition, but as a marketing tool too.
Anyway, 4G will, at the very least, be faster than 3G, we assume. This will be especially important for tablets as they will be primarily used for viewing video and playing games. If either of these two activities require data to be downloaded on the move, the data requirements for tablets are likely to be far greater than for phones, assuming the media is higher resolution.
So this latest incremental bit of information from RIM seems positive. "The BlackBerry 4G PlayBook is a professional-grade tablet that's set to redefine the possibilities of mobile computing," boasted the press release. It claimed the Sprint 4G network is ‘blazingly fast' and that is will offer download speeds up to ten times faster than 3G.
"RIM believes a significant portion of the tablet market will want a higher performing, multitasking, professional-grade tablet and that is why we chose to design the BlackBerry PlayBook for premium performance with a powerful dual-core processor and multitasking OS. Together with Sprint, we are now building on that performance advantage with 4G and providing an unparalleled mobile experience for users," said Mike Lazaridis, president and Co-CEO of RIM.
RIM has been showing off the PlayBook at CES and is expected to launch the 3G version of it internationally in the first half of this year. Here's a vid demonstrating some of its graphical capabilities and another talking about the SDK.