Where will the others line up?
RIM's iPad-battling PlayBook tablet will launch at a very competitive price point. The company has revealed to Bloomberg that their first slate will cost under $500. The iPad starts at $500 for 32 GB of storage and WiFi.
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By comparison, the PlayBook has smaller 7" display and 1 GB of RAM. It packs a 1 GHz dual-core processor with n WiFi and 3 and 5 MP HD webcams. There are size options going up to 64 GB, plus HDMI-out and microUSB support. The battery is 5,300 mAh, which should provide close to iPad run-times.
I my doubts about RIM's super-slate. While all of those specs sound wonderful, you have to take into account the fact that the PlayBook will be one of last first-generation tablets.
The iPad launched the tablet market in every meaningful way. Apple owns 95.5% of that market right now, and their products will continue to define the "standard" for a while yet. The second iPad's launch will be coming in early 2011, right after the PlayBook. I'm betting those specs will look less impressive when compared to Apple's next magical offering.
So the PlayBook won't have long to make us fall in love with it. A month or two at most. How will it compare to everything else on the market?
Notion Ink's Adam is expected to hit on-or-before Christmas, with early January as the latest launch date possible. It is the only tablet on the horizon that beats the PlayBook outright in specs, and it also manages to undercut RIM's slate in price. $499 will get you a fully-loaded Adam.
That said, Notion Ink isn't really a name in the industry yet. RIM is the king of enterprise smartphones, and one of the originators of the Smartphone Revolution. They have marketing muscle and familiarity in the industry, plus a price low enough to edge out the $700 silliness that is Samsung's Galaxy Tab.
ViewSonic's tablet offering is slightly larger (with less power under the hood) for $380, while the Kno dual-screen tablet won't sell for under $899. Assuming $499 is the price for the cheapest configuration of PlayBook (and it may not be), RIM's tablet will be a premium device that runs in towards the lower end of the tablet cost-spectrum. That is good news for RIM no matter how you slice it.