BlackBerry Drops PlayBook Price to $299 Across the Board

Regardless of what version you choose (16, 32, or 64GB) you can grab a BlackBerry PlayBook Tablet for only $299 – That’s a total of $400 bucks off the original 64GB price when the device was initially released.

Now if you’ve been “reading the tea leaves” and constantly checking online sites, prices for the 16GB version dropped to as low as $199 during this past holiday season. Which means if you really, REALLY only want the 16GB version, presumably, you will have to shell out 100 bucks more than its lowest price ever listed. On the flipside, if you want to maximize every penny, you can have all the space you need in the 64GB version at a steal.

For the PlayBook to match its tablet colleagues in the productivity category, you still (for now) need a BlackBerry Smartphone tethered (for free) to the PlayBook for a native email, calendar & contacts experience (most services offer a mobile-friendly web version); but, if you’re going to ride with #TeamBlackBerry until the wheels fall off, you have until February 4th to pick up the tablet at $299.

The deal is only offered via BlackBerry online, so check out the BlackBerry Online Store for more details on how to purchase.

[via: All Things D]

TweetBook for BlackBerry PlayBook – A Native Twitter Feel

Twitter hasn’t released a native app for the BlackBerry PlayBook. They have recently improved the mobile-friendly web app that looks…good. But for those of us who want a native app that can deliver more features and customization while we surf Twitter, TweetBook might just be what you’re looking for. Read More

Are Tablet Price Wars Brewing?

With Apple continuing to dominate the tablet market, it was probably only a matter of time before other manufacturers began to slash their tablet prices in an effort to increase market share. While this would be the logical response to the iPad’s category-crushing success, other tablet manufacturers have thus far refrained from engaging in price wars with Apple, likely because the iPad’s success has driven up tablet component costs for everyone else in the industry. Manufacturers have been jumping into the tablet game in large part because they want to emulate Apple’s 25% profit margin on the iPad, but since they’re paying higher component prices than Apple, cutting retail prices would thwart the very reason they got into the tablet game in the first place. Read More

RIM Reveals native PlayBook Email, Calendar, Contacts

Close call! It looks like “essential” native apps for email, calendar, contacts, tasks, and other mobile apps will be coming to the newly launched BlackBerry PlayBook Tablet.

Currently, PlayBook users who want to view/manage this data via their tablet are tied to their BlackBerry smartphones. In order to take advantage of those services, you have to use the new BlackBerry Bridge technology that pairs the PlayBook via Bluetooth to a BB smartphone for greater functionality.

Today during the BlackBerry World Conference, some of the former mentioned services were demoed without being paired to a BB smartphone. What does this mean? Essentially, people using the PlayBook don’t necessarily need a BB smartphone, or depend solely on web apps to access these services. I have no beef whatsoever with web apps, but native apps use the device they are designed for a little better than a web app that’s created to provide functionality for a number of devices, IMHO. All you need is a data connection (PlayBook 3G/4G model or WiFi) and you will be on the same playing field as other tablet platforms with native apps.

Furthermore, if wireless carriers all of the sudden decided they don’t particularly like the idea of PlayBook users piggy-backing off of a BB smartphone’s data connection and pulled the plug; having native apps means that you still get your email, calendar appointments, contact lists, etc., while RIM and the wireless carriers hash it out.

If you are a BlackBerry Tablet owner, or looking for an Apple iPad alternative, I think the BlackBerry PlayBook, once it’s retrofitted with “essential” native apps and some other OS tweaks will be a serious contender come this summer.

But we want to hear from you. Is the lack of native email, calendar, contacts, tasks, memos, and similar apps/services stopping you from pulling the trigger on the new BlackBerry PlayBook?

BlackBerry PlayBook App: Track Shipments with The Big Package

Looks like we have another mobile device to write about. So we might as well get cracking on the BlackBerry Playbook tablet and find some cool and useful apps that you and your business can benefit from if you decide to spring for the gadget.

The Big Package app goes out to all of those “e-tailers”, ecommerce folks, and mom-and-pop shops who routinely ship packages to customers. The Big Package will track all of your UPS, FedEx and USPS packages in the same place. No need to go to each vendor website and type in the tracking number every time you want to see the latest update.

The main features of The Big Package are that you can save multiple tracking numbers; and add custom names to tracking numbers for quick retrieval every time you open the app. Unlike your average tracking sites that just spit out text results, The Big Package shows your shipment en route via Google Maps in addition to a details page that offers specific notes about your shipment. In other words, The Big Package doesn’t just tell you where you package is, it also shows you too!

Even if you’re not a business that ships products and just obsess over where your package is the second after you have purchased it, The Big Package is a free app to download to the BlackBerry PlayBook. So click this link to download the app and rest assured that you know exactly where your packages are.

BlackBerry PlayBook Adds Java and Android “app player,” but not in time for launch

Although word leaked last month that BlackBerry had added the ability to run Android apps on their upcoming PlayBook tablet (previously: pricing, quick look), a press release from RIM yesterday gives more details about how this will work.  The PlayBook will have access to what RIM are calling “app players” to allow not just Android 2.3 but Java apps as well.  However, unlike we assumed, there won’t simply be an Android Market on the PlayBook, but the process sounds simple enough. According to RIM, developers will have to simply repackage and sign their apps, then submit them to BlackBerry App World.  Touting a “a high degree of API compatibility” between Android and BlackBerry, the process will hopefully be painless.

Not in Time for Launch

The PlayBook will be here on April 19th, but RIM notes in their press release that the app players won’t arrive until summer.  With their tablet Native Development Kit (NDK) forthcoming and still in alpha, how are developers supposed to have apps ready for launch?  BlackBerry is addressing this in several ways, announcing today that they’re adding C/C++ development to the NDK, allowing developers to leverage work already done in the language and easily port existing code to the platform.  As well, developers will have the option to bring Adobe Flash and AIR apps to the PlayBook, in addition to the HTML5 support via WebKit.

With the iPad 2 and Motorola Xoom already out, their app stores full thanks to a significant head start, how will the PlayBook compete? Will there be a significant number of apps available for the platform at launch, and will consumers be able to wait until summer for Android Apps to make their way to the device?  We’re still waiting with bated breath to find out how the BlackBerry PlayBook is going to shine amongst what we assume will be its core audience: business users. Having already announced that they’re bringing BlackBerry Messenger to Android and possibly iOS, it will be interesting to see what unique features the PlayBook will be bringing to market.

BlackBerry Playbook will have “Balance” Service Too

It has been recently announced that Blackberry is currently testing a service for BES (BlackBerry Enterprise Service) called BlackBerry Balance that will allow IT departments to control corporate data on a BlackBerry smartphone issued to an employee without touching the employee’s personal data also stored on the device. I personally think this is a move (and a good one) by BlackBerry to maintain its dominance in the enterprise arena by allowing the use of just one device for work and play.

BlackBerry Balance Corporate Data Wipe Screen

To up the ante, it has also been announced that the BlackBerry Balance service will be available for the upcoming BlackBerry PlayBook tablet device as well. Since the PlayBook has been touted as business device, it makes since to provide users with a way to get extended use from the device while outside of the office.

BlackBerry Balance for smartphones (and tablets) doesn’t have a firm launch date, but word on the street is that you will be able to carry two BlackBerry devices in one within the next few months.

BlackBerry’s PlayBook Tablet Screams ‘Business Ready’

With its ultra-portable, 7″ inch screen weighing in at under one-pound (compared to the Apple iPad at a “husky” 1.5 pounds for the WiFi only model) and HTML5 AND Flash 10.1 capabilities, RIM has decided to enter the tablet game, but focuses on its tried and true business customer base with the unveiling of the new BlackBerry PlayBook tablet devices set to be released to the masses early 2011.

Of course the business-savvy professional isn’t the ONLY customer RIM had in mind when developing the PlayBook. It also packs most of the entertainment features that are becoming standard of most mobile devices.

– Front and rear-facing HD (1080p) cameras
– 1080p HD video playback
– Mini HDMI output
– MP3, AAC, WMA audio playback
– WiFi (up to 802.11n)
– Bluetooth 2.1

Back to the business side of things – The PlayBook will sport 1GB of RAM and a 1GHz DUAL-CORE processor to power what BlackBerry calls “True multitasking”. Current BB smartphone owners who may be eye-balling the PlayBook will be happy to know that while the first Playbook will be WiFi-only, the ability to tether (share data connection) with their BB smartphone will be as easy as setting up bluetooth connectivity between the two devices. Once set up, the Playbook will display and synchronize data from your BB smartphone – with no extra data plan fees.

The most surprising point about the new PlayBook is the fact that it’s not using the new BlackBerry 6 OS that BB recently unveiled with the new BlackBerry Touch smartphone. BB is putting its acquisition money to good use and tapped QNX to build an all new mobile OS specifically for the Playbook. The company’s founder states that “QNX is going to enable things that you have never seen before”. If this is true and the QNX OS does blow our socks off when the Playbook is released, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this OS take the place of BB 6 OS in the not-so-distant future.

But, we will have to wait and see because “early 2011” is the only solid date we have, and no word as to how much the BlackBerry PlayBook will cost. From the looks of it, there will be two [storage] sizes, a 16GB and 32GB version. And BlackBerry has stated that 3G and 4G versions should be available in the future as well.

My opinion (that is, if you’re wondering) – I’m an app guy, and BlackBerry SERIOUSLY needs to step up its app game to get me excited enough to keep my BlackBerry smartphone AND possibly ditch my iPad for this new PlayBook. Speaking of which, during RIM’s Developer’s Conference (where they unveiled the PlayBook), they also unveiled their new WebWorks Software Development Kit (SDK) in hopes to woo developers back into making some good applications for the PlayBook and other BB mobile devices. So I will reserve judgment for when or if RIM can catch up with iOS (Apple) and Android in the mobile app wars.

What about you? Will you be bugging your company’s IT department about making the new BlackBerry PlayBook tablet available so you can do more Teleworking with your BlackBerry devices? Will you see the PlayBook as much needed companion to your BlackBerry smartphone and your busy, small business lifestyle? Will the PlayBook be a competitor to the iPad? Speak on it in the comments section…