Count 'em, because RIM has now announced four varieties of its BlackBerry PlayBook tablet. As of today, we've got the PlayBook with WiFi + LTE and WiFi + HSPA+ models joining the previously announced PlayBook with WiFi and PlayBook with WiFi + WiMax. As such, there's a pretty good chance that your carrier will have a 7-inch dual-core PlayBook with the QNX-based BlackBerry Tablet OS on offer at some point in the future, no matter how it chooses to define "4G." Unfortunately, RIM says that its LTE and HSPA+ models won't be coming until the second half of 2011.

Update: RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie was particularly chatty after the announcement of the new 4G PlayBook models. The takeaway is that RIM expects to price that BlackBerry tablet at less than $500 (WiFi-only model, presumably) -- much less with any carrier subsidies. He's also expecting to followup the Sprint deal in the US with similar signings of AT&T and Verizon Wireless. "All of our carrier partners want [PlayBook]," said Balsillie, referencing the 580 carrier partners that RIM enjoys in 165 countries. While Balsillie refused to comment on the PlayBook's rumored ability to run Android apps, he did confirm that RIM's new tablet was on track for a March or April release.
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MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS, BARCELONA, SPAIN – Research In Motion (RIM) (NASDAQ:RIMM)(TSX:RIM) today announced plans to launch two additional BlackBerry® 4G PlayBook tablets during the second half of 2011, featuring support for LTE and HSPA+ high speed wide area wireless networks.

"The BlackBerry PlayBook tablet is already being widely recognized for its superior performance, rich web experience, enterprise readiness and deep support for web standards and open development tools. We are now building on the BlackBerry PlayBook's many advantages with support for additional 4G networks that will allow enhanced business opportunities for carriers and developers and unparalleled mobile experiences for users," said Mike Lazaridis, President and Co-CEO at Research In Motion.

RIM's family of upcoming BlackBerry 4G PlayBook tablets will deliver professional-grade, consumer-friendly experiences that redefine the possibilities of mobile computing. These innovative tablets will each provide users with an ultra-portable design featuring industry leading performance with real-time multitasking and symmetrical multiprocessing, uncompromised high-fidelity web browsing including support for Adobe® Flash and stunning HD multimedia, as well as advanced security features and out-of-the-box enterprise support.

The combination of premium hardware features and design powered by the new and highly acclaimed BlackBerry® Tablet OS and open development tools, along with support for carriers' high speed 4G networks, will provide a high performance platform that enables a mobile services revolution.

RIM has now announced plans to offer four BlackBerry PlayBook tablets:

1. BlackBerry PlayBook with Wi-Fi
2. BlackBerry 4G PlayBook with Wi-Fi + WiMax
3. BlackBerry 4G PlayBook with Wi-Fi + LTE
4. BlackBerry 4G PlayBook with Wi-Fi + HSPA+

In addition to the Wi-Fi and 4G connectivity referenced above, each tablet can also support:

1. Bluetooth tethering
2. Mobile hotspots (ie. a MiFi, smartphone or other portable device equipped to act as a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot)
3. BlackBerry Bridge


About Research In Motion
Research In Motion (RIM), a global leader in wireless innovation, revolutionized the mobile industry with the introduction of the BlackBerry® solution in 1999. Today, BlackBerry products and services are used by millions of customers around the world to stay connected to the people and content that matter most throughout their day. Founded in 1984 and based in Waterloo, Ontario, RIM operates offices in North America, Europe, Asia Pacific and Latin America. RIM is listed on the NASDAQ Stock Market (NASDAQ:RIMM) and the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX:RIM). For more information, visit www.rim.com or www.blackberry.com.