The rumors of a tablet from Research In Motion (RIM) have turned out to be true with CEO Mike Lazardis announcing the company’s PlayBook tablet at its annual BlackBerry Developer Conference. Described by RIM as a “professional-grade” tablet, the 7-inch device will be running the new BlackBerry Tablet OS created by the recently acquired QNX. It boasts BlackBerry integration, out-of-the-box BlackBerry Enterprise Server compatibility and security features designed to appeal to businesses as well as true multitasking, gaming and multimedia capabilities.

The PlayBook is powered by a Cortex A9-based 1GHz dual-core processor with 1GB of RAM and OS support for symmetric multiprocessing. The 7-inch 1024 x 600 resolution capacitive LCD touchscreen display includes full multi-touch and gesture support, while dual HD cameras (3-megapixel front facing and 5-megapixel rear facing) support 1080p HD video recording and video conferencing with both cameras able to record HD video at the same time.

Connectivity-wise the device sports a microUSB port, 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR and a microHDMI port for the connection of an external display. It supports H-264, MPEG, DivX and WMV video formats and MP3, AAC and WMA audio playback through the device’s stereo speakers.

BlackBerry Integration

BlackBerry smartphone users will be able to pair their device with the PlayBook using a secure Bluetooth connection to allow any content stored on (or accessible through) the smartphone to be viewed on the PayBook’s display. While it is viewable on the Playbook, the content actually remains stored on the phone and is only temporarily cached on the PlayBook. RIM says this approach allows IT departments to deploy the PlayBook to employees out-of-the-box without worrying about all the security and manageability issues that arise when corporate data is stored on yet another device.

Web browsing and app support

The PlayBook includes support for HTML-5, Adobe Flash 10.1 and Mobile AIR apps for uncompromised web browsing, while the BlackBerry Tablet OS is fully POSIX compliant enabling easy portability of C-based code, supports Open GL for 2D and 3D graphics intensive applications like gaming, and will run applications built in Adobe Mobile AIR as well as the newly announced BlackBerry WebWorks app platform which will allow apps to be written to run on BlackBerry PlayBook tablets as well as BlackBerry smartphones with BlackBerry 6. The BlackBerry Tablet OS will also support Java so developers can easily bring their existing BlackBerry 6 Java applications to BlackBerry Tablet OS.

The BlackBerry PlayBook measures 5.1 x 7.6 x 0.4-inches (130 x 193 x 10mm) and weighs approx. 0.9 lb (400g). RIM hasn’t announced a price for the PlayBook but expects to start shipping the device in the U.S. early in 2011, rolling out to other international markets in the second quarter of the year.