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Hands-on look: BlackBerry PlayBook tablet

RIM held a special media-only event in New York City on Thursday showing off the new BlackBerry PlayBook. Here's a hands-on look.

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Topic: Tablets
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1 of 13 Rachel King/ZDNet

RIM has dubbed the BlackBerry PlayBook as the "professional-grade" tablet, and it definitely fits in more as a business-friendly slate. However, RIM is also pushing this device to a wider consumer market, but it's questionable how useful it will be for non-BlackBerry owners.

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2 of 13 Rachel King/ZDNet

The BlackBerry PlayBook falls into the 7-inch tablet range along side the original Samsung Galaxy Tab. When I first held the device, it immediately reminded me of the feel of the HP Slate. That's mainly due to size and its professional-related apps, but the BlackBerry Tablet OS (which is partnered with Android) is much more graphic heavy.

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One of the most outstanding features on the BlackBerry PlayBook is the video playback and the capacitive multi-touch display with its 1,024 x 600 resolution. It supports full HD 1080p video and a multitude of codecs. 

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This is certainly a business-oriented tablet, but it is ready for multimedia too with 1GB of RAM, a 1Ghz dual-core processor and Adobe Flash 10.1 support. 

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5 of 13 Rachel King/ZDNet

Unfortunately, the Wi-Fi network wasn't set up at the event, which restricted how many apps would work, including this pre-loaded Weather app. However, along with Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR, the PlayBook will be made available with a number of different connectivity options: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n only, WiMax, LTE and HSPA+.

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6 of 13 Rachel King/ZDNet

The PlayBook sports two cameras: a 5-megapixel rear camera and a 3-megapixel front-facing camera. 

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7 of 13 Rachel King/ZDNet

Here's a look at the power of the rear camera that also shoots HD video. However, the 3-megapixel camera should prove to be more useful for business people when it comes to video conferencing considering most other netbooks and comparable tablets have cameras with smaller sensors.

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Users are free to switch the orientation on the tablet between portrait and landscape, and there is a lock on the home screen if users have a preference for one over the other.  In this view, you can see the apps on the bottom and toggling between the apps. Users can return to the home screen by sliding upward on the BlackBerry logo at the bottom and hit up the Settings by sliding downward from the top. 

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Note that the PlayBook will be available with three storage options: 16GB, 32GB and 64GB for $499, $599 and $699 respectively. Pre-orders are being accepted from Best Buy now.

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Connectivity isn't bad on the PlayBook: Micro USB and Micro HDMI ports. This can be useful at home for watching movies on the big screen via HDMI or displaying videos at meetings. There's also a play/pause button on the top side of the PlayBook next to volume controls.

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RIM is readying a number of in-house-made accessories for the PlayBook.

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RIM is readying a number of in-house-made accessories for the PlayBook.

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13 of 13 Rachel King/ZDNet

At first glance, the PlayBook is a beautiful device that would be attractive to a consumer looking for a 7-inch tablet. However, it's friendlier for current and future BlackBerry owners as the e-mail app works hand-in-hand with the one on the BlackBerry. Thus, it's questionable how well this well sell in the consumer market overall. 

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