Playbook Tablet Gets 4G LTE Overhaul
August 2, 2012

RIM Adds 4G LTE Functionality To PlayBook Tablet

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

Never one to give up, RIM has launched a new update to their PlayBook tablet. The new PlayBook will feature 4G LTE support, marking the first time their tablets have offered cellular connectivity.

RIM will be releasing the new 4G LTE PlayBooks in Canada first. These tablets, according to the company, will be available in the States, Europe, South Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean in the coming months.

“We´re excited to bring customers the first BlackBerry PlayBook tablet with support for 4G LTE networks,” said David J. Smith, RIM´s Executive Vice President for Mobile Computing in a press statement. “The new 4G LTE BlackBerry PlayBook offers a broad range of premium features, including a stunning 7 inch display, front and rear facing HD video cameras, HDMI out and stereo speakers, and it also offers premium performance on high speed cellular networks, helping customers to be more productive than ever and to make the most of their time on the go.”

Much like its much more successful iPad counterpart, the new PlayBook will be able to switch to a slower network if 4G LTE is not available. It also comes with a standard 32GB of storage and the same operating system seen on the previous PlayBook.

It´s been rumored for a while that RIM would announce a new, 4G LTE compatible tablet, though the Canadian company refused to acknowledge these plans. Now, those Canadian RIM faithful can pick up one of these tablets on August 9th for an as-yet-to-be-determined price.

While it may be commendable to see RIM continuing to push their tablet option, it´s a bit interesting to see them release an update that only adds 4G LTE and not any other advancements or features users have been asking for, such as a major software upgrade, or any reason to choose the PlayBook over the iPad or Google´s 7-inch, $199 Nexus 7.

Additionally, the PlayBook has famously sold poorly since its release. In order to move some product and, presumably, compete with Amazon´s Kindle Fire tablet, RIM dramatically slashed the price of their 16GB PlayBook to $199 in November 2011. At the time, RIM´s tablet didn´t offer native Calendar or Mail apps.

In June, RIM announced they were going to discontinue their $199 16GB tablet, and would only continue to offer it until they sold out of the devices. As it stands, the 16GB option is still offered for $199 on RIM´s website, just beneath their new, 4G LTE golden child.

RIM has seen more than their fair share of bad news recently, as once loyal customers and developers are leaving in droves. As a result, their stock prices have fallen from a one-time high $140 to an embarrassing $7.25. The company is also stripping its workforce nearly in half, from 20,000 a few years ago to just 11,000.

Those RIM supporters that are still around are counting on the new BlackBerry OS, BlackBerry 10, to help right the ship, though this operating system has been delayed for more than a year.

RIM´s newest CEO Thorsten Heins remains upbeat, however.

Speaking to the Telegraph, he mentions some observations he´s made at this year´s Olympic games: “Guess what — most of the guys were on a BlackBerry, typing. Working.”

Only time will tell how well this minute addition of 4G LTE will help PlayBook sales, if any at all.