Research In Motion's PlayBook tablet will be available in the U.S. and Canada by the end of March, but some BlackBerry developers will not be able to migrate their smart phone applications to the tablet without extra coding, according to a company product manager.
Ryan Bidan unveiled more details about RIM's coming tablet at an industry event at the Consumer Electronics Show late Wednesday night.
Initially, Mr. Bidan said, the PlayBook will be available with just wi-fi connectivity, but later in the year, RIM will release a 4G cellular model through Sprint.
Mr. Bidan let analysts and reporters demo a working version of the PlayBook, a sleek device with a 7-inch display and no physical buttons on the display side of the tablet.
When tethered to a BlackBerry, the PlayBook will run several familiar apps, such as notes, tasks, e-mail and BlackBerry Messenger. The test device also contained some third-party apps, such as an e-book reader from Kobo.
Mr. Bidan said developers will be able to build apps for the PlayBook through a developers' kit for the operating system, built by QNX, a firm RIM purchased. Developers will also be able to use Adobe Air and HTML5 environments. However RIM must still include a Java virtual machine on the device to let some BlackBerry developers move their apps onto the new machine, which cannot handle some BlackBerry apps natively.
Mr. Bidan disputed media claims that the PlayBook suffers from poor battery life, saying the company doesn't build battery life management until late in the development process. He said the company's "attainable" goal is eight hours of active battery life.
Mr. Bidan didn't disclose the price of the tablet, but indicated it would be consistent with the high-end competitors.
"We're not chasing the low-end of the market," he said.