BlackBerry Tablet Coming this November

We have known about the BlackBerry rumors for some time now – well ever since Apple announced their iPad.It is so much interesting,isn’t it….

BlackBerry tablet rumors continue to gain momentum, with a new report indicating that the device, possibly to be called the BlackPad, is set to hit stores this November.

According to Bloomberg, Research in Motion, the company behind the BlackBerry, is planning on releasing its tablet device this fall. The device will reportedly feature a 9.7″ screen, roughly the same dimensions as the iPad. The device will also feature Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity options, with the option of using an existing BlackBerry smartphone as the data connection.

Kumar noted that the tablet will be powered by a Marvell processor, which led Cnet to theorize that it would be a 1GHz Armada 610 — which makes perfect sense, seeing as how Marvell describes that part as being aimed at “mainstream Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs), connected consumer products, eReaders, eBooks, tablets, media players and new personal information appliances.”

Rumors of a BlackBerry tablet have been swirling for quite some time, but Bloomberg is citing two sources familiar with the details. RIM could not be reached for comment, but declined to speak with Bloomberg as the company doesn’t comment on rumors or speculations.

The Armada 610 includes support for full 1080p video encode and decode, an image signal processor capable of handling up to 16 megapixels, and integrated audio processing and 3D engines.

Flash support in the BlackBerry tablet would, of course, provide another capability not found in the iPad. While there are those who deride Flash for its CPU-cycle hunger (we can think of one Cupertino exec in particular), Adobe’s video and graphics enabler still carries the bulk of the web’s video, and many users would prefer to have access to it — such as your Reg reporter, who was unable to watch Univision’s live streaming of the Holland-Spain final on his iPad because of that site’s reliance on what Steve Jobs has dubbed a “closed and proprietary” platform.

RIM recently took over the domain, fueling speculation that this will be the moniker for the new device. As notes, however, RIM has more than 4000 registered domains; “BlackPad” may not end up being the name for the fabled product.

Bloomberg’s sources say that the device will feature front- and back-facing cameras for video conferencing. Rather than bundling the device with a 3G data connection, it will use Wi-Fi or connect to a BlackBerry phone via Bluetooth to tether a data connection. Although the tether option is potentially less expensive for consumers (who wouldn’t need to have another subscription to use the BlackPad), we’re not really sure why a 3G radio would be omitted as an option.

The biggest question we have about a BlackBerry tablet involves the keyboard. If you’re into physical keyboards, in our mind, the BlackBerry stands out among other devices with this feature. However, physical keyboards and tablets don’t really mesh. In any event, we hope RIM doesn’t decide to include the click-screen that make the BlackBerry Storm and Storm II such “fun” to use.

Incidentally, RIM has an event Tuesday, at which point the company is expected to unveil its latest BlackBerry smartphone, the 9800. The device will feature a slide-out keyboard alongside a pure touch screen. Whether or not a slide-out keyboard would work on a larger form remains to be seen.

RIM is busy readying BlackBerry OS 6.0 for release; the new OS, which includes a new browser, better media options and tighter social network connectivity, looks like it just might be what RIM needs to recharge the BlackBerry brand.However, we question the need for an RIM tablet. Even before the iPad was officially announced, a larger-form iOS device made sense because of the large ecosystem of games, media players and entertainment content that were already available from the iTunes ecosystem.

BlackBerry doesn’t have that same ecosystem. Sure, a BlackPad could be a great device for watching video and surfing the web, but the BlackBerry’s best features have always been based around instant messaging, e-mail and getting things done. That isn’t to say that that experience can’t translate well to a tablet. With the right software support and screen resolution, the BlackPad could be a great mobile word processor. But the use cases for consumers don’t seem as apparent they do with other devices.

Ultimately, we think price is going to be a big factor in the success of a BlackBerry tablet. I know lots of BlackBerry users who have purchased an iPod touch or an iPad, but I don’t know if Android or iOS users would jump at the chance to get a BlackBerry powered tablet.


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