BlackBerry maker Research in Motion (RIM) has unveiled its new range of PlayBooks, with the devices being launched in Canada on 9 August, followed by rollouts in the US, Europe, South Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean.
Like the original PlayBooks, the new PlayBook tablet is based on the QNX operating system. The updated operating system has been dubbed PlayBook OS 2 and was rolled out to existing users earlier in the year.
PlayBook OS 2 supports HTML5, offers a unified inbox to enable users to manage multiple personal and work email accounts, as well as social media such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, on the same platform. Calendar and contacts applications can also be integrated with social networks to enable contact information to be gleaned with one click.
The new PlayBooks include built-in support for 4G LTE mobile networking and HSPA+ and a 7in display, front and rear facing high-definition video cameras, HDMI out and stereo speakers. The 4G LTE model will also come with 32GB of memory.
A key selling point of the devices – compared to Apple iPads and Android devices – is that they can be managed with BlackBerry Mobile Fusion, while users can use BlackBerry Balance to delineate between work and personal uses, keeping business information secure and separate from personal data.
The new BlackBerry mobile phone operating system, BlackBerry OS 10, will also be based on QNX and is now scheduled for an early 2013 launch.
BlackBerry OS 10 had initially been expected in spring, after leaked details of the new operating system and phones emerged in January 2012, before RIM had pinned a fourth quarter release date on the operating system.
The launch of the new PlayBooks, however, coincides with a wave of job losses at the company, with 3,000 staff being made redundant during August, according to the online Canadian technology site, Cantech Letter. BlackBerry-branded stores in the US are also being shut down.
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