Sprint plans WiMax RIM PlayBook

No pricing is available yet for the tablet, which is due to ship this summer

Sprint Nextel will sell a WiMax version of the Research In Motion PlayBook tablet beginning this summer, the companies announced on Thursday at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

The device will be the first PlayBook with wireless wide-area connectivity, according to the companies. The announcement also represented one of the few times at this year's tablet-heavy show that WiMax has been mentioned in conjunction with the hot new product category.

RIM unveiled the PlayBook at its BlackBerry Developer Conference in San Francisco last September. At the Digital Experience event on Wednesday, on the sidelines of CES, RIM let media and analysts handle the device for the first time.

The company expects the first PlayBooks to go on sale by the end of March in the U.S. and worldwide in the second quarter. If the WiMax version is the first with wide-area network capability, those first units presumably will use only Wi-Fi, which will be built in.

The PlayBook, with a 7-inch screen, is smaller than Apple's iPad. The device felt lighter in the hand than the iPad, which comes with a 9.7-inch screen. RIM bills it as a business tablet that consumers can use, too. Its software will be based on the QNX Neutrino real-time operating system that RIM acquired last year.

The companies did not share any pricing details on Thursday. RIM is working with carriers, retailers and other distribution partners, said Ryan Bidan,senior product manager.

"It'll be competitively priced when it is launched," Bidan said.

Sprint was the first carrier in the U.S. to launch a so-called 4G (fourth-generation) mobile network, with its first WiMax network in Baltimore in 2008. It now offers WiMax in 71 markets across the country, using a network built and operated by Clearwire, of which Sprint is the majority owner. The network offers average downstream speeds of 3M bps (bits per second) to 6M bps, with bursts over 10M bps.

But Sprint now faces stiff competition from Verizon Wireless, which offers a 4G LTE (Long-Term Evolution) network that reaches about one-third of U.S. residents. LTE has become the choice of most mobile operators worldwide planning 4G networks, including AT&T. T-Mobile USA says it offers comparable speeds with its HSPA+ network.

Several of the tablets announced this week at CES will work on 4G networks. On Thursday, Verizon and Cisco Systems announced plans to offer Cisco's Cius tablet for the LTE network beginning this spring. Samsung also plans to have a tablet for Verizon's network. Dell announced its Streak will run on T-Mobile's network. But RIM's announcement was the biggest so far at CES for a tablet using WiMax.

(Agam Shah contributed to this report from CES in Las Vegas.)

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags mobiletabletstelecommunicationhardware systemstablet PCslaptopsresearch in motionCESsprint nextelCES 2011

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Stephen Lawson

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?