BlackBerry PlayBook getting the TouchPad deep discount treatment

It seems the only way to beat Apple in the tablet market these days is to knock down your prices to the point of unprofitability.

Best Buy this weekend is hoping to replicate the recent sales magic generated from selling $100 HP TouchPads by slashing the price of Research in Motion's BlackBerry PlayBook by $50 for the 16GB and 32GB models and by $150 for the 64GB model. In other words, you can now buy a 64GB PlayBook for $549, or just $100 more than the $449 of the 16GB model.

BACKGROUND: iPad rivals not up to snuff, says Consumer Reports

And, as they say in the sales business, that's not all! Rumor has it that Staples is planning an even deeper discount for the PlayBook later this month by knocking a whole 50% off the original price for all models. This means you'll be able to buy the 16GB and 32GB models for $299 while paying a mere $349 for the 64GB model.

RIM released the PlayBook this past spring and the tablet has become yet another entrant in the long line of failed iPad "killers." While the tablet had strong hardware, it was plagued by key flaws such as the lack of stand-alone email, contact or calendar capabilities, as the only way users could get such capabilities was by syncing it with their own BlackBerry device through a Bluetooth connection.

PLAYBOOK APPS: 5 worthy downloads for the RIM tablet

So far no tablet on the market has been able to effectively compete with Apple's iPad, which was far and away the top tablet ranked by Consumer Reports earlier this year. Among other things, the iPad 2 scored high marks with Consumer Reports for its battery life, display screen and ease of use. Consumer Reports said it evaluated tablets using 17 different criteria, including "touch-screen responsiveness, versatility, portability, screen glare, and ease of use," and found that the iPad 2 scored a rating of "excellent" in nearly every category. The iPad 2 also had by far the best battery life of any of the tablets, notching an average of 12.2 hours in Consumer Reports tests. In terms of pricing, Consumer Reports electronics editor Paul Reynolds said that the iPad 2 was delivering the most bang for the buck compared to other tablets.

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