BlackBerry Playbook with cell connectivity launches Aug. 9

Research in Motion (RIM) will release a new version of the BlackBerry Playbook in Canada Aug. 9 with support for 4G LTE networks, the Waterloo, Ont.-based firm announced today.

The previous model of the Playbook released more than a year ago only supported Wi-Fi connections, with no cellular access. Now the LTE version of the Playbook could connect with the 4G wireless networks being built out by Canada’s three incumbent carriers, Rogers Wireless, Bell Mobility, and Telus Mobility.

RIM has confirmed the tablet will be available at Bell, Rogers, and Telus. A Micro SIM card registered to a data plan is required to connect.

The Playbook LTE model comes with 32 GB of storage.

The new Playbook has 32 GB of internal storage and is loaded with OS version 2.0.1, the most recent software version. Canada is receiving the new tablets ahead of the rest of the world. RIM will be releasing it in the coming months to the U.S., Europe, South Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean.

While LTE coverage is still being built out in Canada and is not usually available outside of major urban centres, the new Playbook will default to connect with HSPA+ networks when LTE is not available. Those networks are considered 3.5 G and are widely available across the country.

A previous filing with the Federal Communications Commission by RIM indicated plans to release a HSPA+ version of the Playbook, tech blog Engadget reported in March. Those specs also included a faster 1.5 Ghz dual-core processor and a near-field communications (NFC) chip.

But RIM makes no mention of a new processor in its new tablet release, nor the NFC chip.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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