Apple was the first to mass-market a mobile, touch-screen tablet computer.
Now Research in Motion, the venerable BlackBerry maker, has come forth with the public announcement of its own tablet, the PlayBook. But it isn't following Apple's footsteps or riding on their coattails.
Fact is, PlayBook is its own device. The tablet plays to the strengths that saw RIM rise to its peak: enterprise-savvy, professional-grade hardware and software. It doesn't need to "kill" the iPad because most people who own an iPad and like it wouldn't want a PlayBook anyway, and most people who plan to buy a PlayBook probably never cared for the Apple device in the first place.
The PlayBook features a 3 MP front-facing camera for real-time video conferencing, a business essential, and it also boasts a 5 MP rear-facing camera that is capable enough to replace your digital camera. The iPad has neither of these, because Apple likes to deliberately withhold features so that they can more frequently "upgrade" their devices.
Let's get stuff done
Also lacking in the iPad, but strong on the PlayBook, is multitasking. The PlayBook can handle multiple apps or internet browser windows at once. This is supported by an impressive 1 GHz dual-core processor.
PlayBook no "Flash" in the pan
Apple's war with Adobe is slyly exploited by RIM, which boasts built-in support for Adobe Flash, because, as the PlayBook's site reads, "What would the Internet be without it?"
But the Apple has...
Okay, so PlayBook doesn't beat the iPad in everything. Apple's device is on par with PlayBook's multimedia richness and overall design beauty. The iPad is also 10 inches, whereas the PlayBook is only 7—but really, this isn't a disadvantage for RIM's device, as many people may desire something more portable.
Big question mark: The price
This, obviously, is a key question. But don't expect an answer any time soon. The PlayBook won't start shipping for months and RIM is in no rush to drop numbers on the device's cost. It's a strategic move because it creates more buzz around the device as tech bloggers and interested consumers speculate. Plus, RIM can analyze what people seem willing to pay. So far, price guesses have ranged from a rather low $400 to a sky-high $1,500, with most estimates between $800 and $1,000, considering the PlayBook's impressive hardware. Of course, one to three year contracts will subsidize whatever the actual cost is.