The BlackBerry PlayBook tablet has just become available to pre-order... but only in the US and Canada. The Wi-Fi only version of RIM's tablet will go on sale on 19 April in both countries, with retailers Best Buy and Future Shop the first to let people sign up for the device.
This means we also now know how much the PlayBook will cost: $499 for the 16GB model, $599 for the 32GB version and $699 for the 64GB model. The US pricing notably matches the cost of the iPad 2 exactly, over its 16GB, 32GB and 64GB Wi-Fi models.
"Previews of the BlackBerry PlayBook have generated tremendous excitement and we know that customers are eager to get their hands on one," says RIM's North America regional managing director Craig McLennan. "We share that excitement and we are very pleased to announce that customers can begin placing their orders with Best Buy today."
There has been no official announcement on a UK launch for RIM's tablet, although a leaked roadmap from UK operator Three earlier this week pegged the Wi-Fi model with a June release date on this side of the Atlantic.
RIM is pitching the PlayBook as "the world's first professional-grade tablet", with an eye firmly on the corporate world. The device has a 7-inch, 1,024x600-pixel display, a 1GHz dual-core processor, a 5-megapixel rear camera and a 3-megapixel front cam -- both capable of shooting 1080p video -- and has 1GB of RAM.
The PlayBook runs a new operating system based on QNX, rather than an upscaled version of the BlackBerry OS. Whenever we've got near a PlayBook at a conference, we've been impressed by its performance, so we're looking forward to seeing how it shapes up in the real world.