The BlackBerry PlayBook tablet is starting to wriggle its way into retail channels for a late March launch. One such store, Office Depot, has it listed internally for $499 for the 16 GB model, which confirms earlier rumours of that price point. Other denominations of memory will cost $399 and $599, according to separate rumours. That puts it directly on par with iPad pricing at the basic level, which might not be so great if an iPad 2 is around the corner and the original gets a price slash. On top of that, the requirement to Bridge to get e-mail and other PIM apps might be a deal-breaker at higher price points, nevermind the smaller screen size.
The BlackBerry PlayBook will be RIM’s first tablet, boasting a brand new operating system that excels at multimedia, stability, and multitasking. It’s got a dual-core 1 GHz processor, 1 GB of RAM, a 7-inch 1024 x 600 display, Wi-Fi, with 3G when tethered to a BlackBerry smartphone. Take a look at our hands-on experience with the PlayBook to get the full tour.
Honestly, I’m not sure I could justify spending $499 on what some have boldly called “an expensive web browser“. Without any expandable memory or reasonable standalone applications, combined with the fact that I just got a netbook (for only $275, mind you), there’s really no reason to grab a PlayBook. Other seven-inch tablets running Android can work just fine on their own, and can cost as low as $269. I’m sure the price will go down in time, but given the competition and the device’s limitations, I think the PlayBook will need to be cheaper at launch.