RIM's PlayBook tablet on sale April 19 at Best Buy

7-inch touchscreen device starts at $499 for low-end 16GB model

ORLANDO -- The PlayBook tablet from Research in Motion, priced from $499, will go on sale April 19 at Best Buy stores, RIM and Best Buy announced Tuesday at the CTIA conference here.

The 7-inch touchscreen device has attracted positive attention from IT managers due to its ability to be tethered to RIM's BlackBerry smartphones.

That capability gives IT more control of data and applications on the device through the BlackBerry Enterprise Server, several CIO's have noted in recent weeks.

PlayBook availability has been delayed, drawing concerns by analysts who have noted the launch of the iPad 2 and Galaxy Tab devices in recent weeks. The PlayBook was first announced last November,

Best Buy and RIM said PlayBook will be available in three versions: a 16GB model priced at $499; a 32 GB version for $599; and $699 64 GB tablet.

The initial PlayBook is Wi-Fi -only, although if tethered through a BlackBerry smartphone could the device access 3g networks without the need for an added data plan, several CIO's have noted.

The PlayBook features a 1GHz processor that runs in dual cores and runs the BlackBerry Tablet OS, which supports symmetric multiprocessing, RIM said.

The device also has two high definition cameras for video capture and videoconferencing. HDMI output at 1080p is supported, and internal memory capacity is 1GB.

RIM said 20,000 retailers will sell the device.

Best Buy began taking orders today.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen , or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed . His e-mail address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

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