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November 11, 2021

RIM sets its PlayBook price (sort of) -- you gonna get one?

As each new tablet PC hits the market – the HP Slate, the Samsung Galaxy and, sometime soon, the RIM PlayBook – the same question can't be avoided: will it challenge the iPad?

Almost without refute, everyone agrees the only real shot to knock Apple’s dominant tablet off its pedestal will come in the form of the PlayBook – yet, with RIM’s reluctance in recent months to name a retail price, how much can we really forecast?

Finally, however, the Waterloo, Ont.-based maker of the BlackBerry has named its price for the PlayBook, which will debut in the first quarter of next year: under $500.

Sure, not exactly precise, but it’s clear what RIM has in mind with such a pricing estimate. Undercut the iPad, which sells for as little as $499 in the U.S. In Canada, of course, you won’t find an iPad any cheaper than $549 (or $679 if you want 3G capacity), so a sub-$500 tablet could sound mighty nice to some budget-conscious Canucks.

And, now that we have a price in mind for the PlayBook, we can start to gauge the consumer reaction to the product; namely, is it worth it? And, will it cut into the user base of the wildly popular iPad?

Not quite enough room in this space to debate the specs between the PlayBook and iPad (you can check out a few good breakdowns on DigitalTrends.com or NewGadget.org) but there seems to be at least four PlayBook features that, now that we know the RIM device won’t cost more than Apple’s tablet, are sure to draw people into RIM’s camp on this one:

1) Price – Since we just explained this, here’s a link to my friend Shane's great Movember page to benefit prostate cancer research. Check it out, and donate if you can. Any bit helps.
2) Size – With a seven-inch screen, the PlayBook is sure to be easier to transport than the 9.7-inch iPad. Whether smaller is better in this regard, though, remains to be seen.
3) USB – The iPad claims no USB connectivity. The PlayBook, in true PC emulation style, will allow it to function more as a total computer.
4) Flash – Apple has continued its snub of Flash, which powers the videos and interactive content on many of your favourite sites. RIM welcomes Flash with open arms with the Playbook.

Of course, there’s still plenty the iPad will whip the PlayBook on. Its app selection, for one, will dwarf anything you’ll find on the PlayBook. Even the most dedicated BlackBerry user will admit Apple's got RIM's number when it comes to apps.

But that’s getting ahead of ourselves. The main question here: now that we know it’ll be cheaper than the iPad, will you consider going out and nabbing a PlayBook?

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money

(*Image courtesy: DigitalTrends.com)



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...