Research in Motion’s 7″ BlackBerry PlayBook slate/tablet made its first official appearance back in September, and today at CES 2011, it’s gotten its first 4G U.S. carrier partner, Sprint, and has gone on display for the public to touch.
Of course, what the public can do with the Playbook today is still very limited. You cannot, in fact, pick up the device, as it’s attached to the display stand. However, you can swipe through the QNX-crafted interface, open up a few apps and demonstrations, use the browser, and develop a general longing for a deeper experience.
But it won’t be long before it’s ready to launch. Research in Motion representatives today said the first model to market will be the Wi-Fi only version, in just over a month. The 3G (or perhaps just GSM-based) versions are expected to come in the second quarter of 2011, and Sprint will be getting its WiMAX version (called the “4G PlayBook”) some time in the Summer.
The touch experience, especially within the touch-sensitive bezel is smooth and responsive, and sliding upward on the screen serves as the “back” gesture, as well as opening an Android-like drawer of installed applications.
Though the device’s weight and feel in hand are still something of a mystery, the BlackBerry PlayBook is shaping up to be an impressive device, even though it is in the 7″ form factor, which is sometimes considered a less-than-ideal screen size.