In the dead of night ... pre-orders happen. RIM has snuck out the first official pricing for its 7-inch BlackBerry PlayBook tablet and, true to its promise, it costs less than $500. A cent less than $500. The 16GB WiFi-only PlayBook is now up for pre-order at Best Buy and is coming to a vast list of other retailers soon. Staples, Office Depot and RadioShack are among the popular US store chains, while AT&T, Sprint and Verizon will also carry the tablet. No T-Mobile on that list. Canadian pre-orders for the same model are now live as well, also at $499.99, albeit in the local dollar currency. A 32GB WiFi model will set Canucks back C$600 and the 64GB model is C$700, which might be indicative of US pricing too if price parity is maintained throughout the range. The almost full press release (still no release date) follows after the break.

Update: A second press release has confirmed full US pricing for the WiFi versions: 16GB is $500, 32GB is $600 and 64GB is $700. Scheduled to be available on April 19th!

Update 2: Sean wrote in to let us know you can also get your order on over at Office Depot.
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RIM Announces Retail Channels for BlackBerry PlayBook

BlackBerry PlayBook to be available in over 20,000 Retail Outlets in the U.S. and Canada


Waterloo, ON - Research In Motion (RIM) (NASDAQ: RIMM; TSX: RIM) today announced plans to make the highly-anticipated BlackBerry® PlayBook™ tablet available in more than 20,000 retail outlets in the U.S. and Canada.

"The BlackBerry PlayBook is an amazing tablet that is already being widely praised as a multi-tasking powerhouse with an uncompromised web experience and an ultra-portable design," said Mike Lazaridis, President & Co-CEO, Research In Motion. "Given the high level of customer interest in the BlackBerry PlayBook, we are particularly pleased to be working with such an amazing lineup of retail partners."

The BlackBerry PlayBook delivers professional-grade, consumer-friendly experiences that redefine the possibilities of mobile computing. This ultra-portable tablet looks and feels great, measuring less than half an inch thick and weighing less than a pound. It features a vivid 7-inch high-resolution display that is highly-responsive with a fluid touch screen experience. It also offers industry leading performance, uncompromised web browsing with support for Adobe® Flash® Player 10.1, true multitasking, HD multimedia, advanced security features, out-of-the-box enterprise support and a robust development environment.

The BlackBerry PlayBook with Wi-Fi will be available in three models and will feature a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting at $499 in the United States and Canada. The lineup of retailers and wireless carriers currently expected to carry the BlackBerry PlayBook in the United States and Canada includes the following companies*:

United States

AT&T
Best Buy
Cbeyond
Cellular South
Cincinnati Bell
Office Depot
RadioShack
ShopBlackBerry.com
Staples
Sprint
Verizon
BlackBerry from Wireless Giant

Canada

Bell
Best Buy
Chapters / Indigo
Costco
Future Shop
Mobilicity
MTS Allstream
Rogers
Sasktel
Sears
ShopBlackBerry.com
Staples
Telus
Tbooth Wireless
The Source
Videotron
Walmart
WIND Mobile
WIRELESS etc.
WIRELESSWAVE

BlackBerry PlayBook Specifications

7" 1024x600 WSVGA capacitive LCD touch screen
Ultra-portable at less than a pound and less than one-half inch thick: 0.9 lbs (425g) and 5.1" x 7.6" x 0.4" (130mm x 194mm x 10mm)
1 GHz dual-core processor
BlackBerry® Tablet OS with support for symmetric multiprocessing
MP3, AAC and WMA audio playback
Support for high resolution video playback (H.264, MPEG4, WMV)
1080p HDMI output
Dual 1080p HD cameras for video conferencing and video capture (3MP front and 5MP rear)
1 GB RAM memory
Up to 64 GB internal storage (16, 32 and 64 GB models)
GPS, Orientation Sensor (Accelerometer), 6-Axis Motion Sensor (Gyroscope), Digital Compass (Magnetometer)
Stereo speakers and stereo microphones
Wi-Fi® (802.11 a/b/g/n) connectivity
Bluetooth® 2.1+EDR support
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Best Buy Begins Accepting Orders For BlackBerry PlayBook today

Minneapolis, MN and Waterloo, ON - Customers eagerly awaiting the BlackBerry® PlayBook™ tablet can begin placing their orders today. Research In Motion (RIM) (NASDAQ: RIMM; TSX: RIM) and Best Buy (NYSE: BBY), a preferred retailer for the BlackBerry PlayBook, today announced the pricing and launch date for the highly anticipated tablet in the U.S. and Canada.

The BlackBerry PlayBook with Wi-Fi will come in three models, featuring 16GB, 32GB or 64GB of storage at $499, $599 and $699 respectively. It is scheduled to be available from all Best Buy stores and Best Buy Mobile stores in the US, as well as Best Buy and Future Shop* stores in Canada, on April 19. Customers in the US and Canada can place their orders beginning today by visiting their local Best Buy, Best Buy Mobile or Future Shop store or by ordering on-line (after 8am ET) at:

U.S. – www.bestbuy.com/playbook

Canada - www.bestbuy.ca/blackberry or www.futureshop.ca/blackberry

"Previews of the BlackBerry PlayBook have generated tremendous excitement and we know that customers are eager to get their hands on one," said Craig McLennan, Regional Managing Director, North America, Research In Motion. "We share that excitement and we are very pleased to announce that customers can begin placing their orders with Best Buy today."

"Tablets are becoming a bigger part of our business everyday and the launch of the BlackBerry PlayBook will heighten the level of excitement in this category," said Scott Anderson, head of merchandising for Best Buy Mobile. "RIM has a tremendous history of producing great mobility products for our customers and we are excited to help launch the BlackBerry PlayBook."

BlackBerry PlayBook is the world's first professional-grade tablet. It features an ultra-portable design and delivers industry leading performance, uncompromised web browsing with support for Adobe® Flash® Player 10.1, true multitasking, HD multimedia, advanced security features, out-of-the-box enterprise support and a robust development environment.

BlackBerry PlayBook specifications:

7" 1024x600 WSVGA capacitive LCD touch screen
Ultra-portable at less than a pound and less than one-half inch thick: 0.9 lbs (425g) and 5.1" x 7.6" x 0.4" (130mm x 194mm x 10mm)
1 GHz dual-core processor
BlackBerry® Tablet OS with support for symmetric multiprocessing
MP3, AAC and WMA audio playback
Support for high resolution video playback (H.264, MPEG4, WMV)
1080p HDMI output
Dual 1080p HD cameras for video conferencing and video capture (3MP front and 5MP rear)
1 GB RAM memory
Up to 64 GB internal storage (16, 32 and 64 GB models)
GPS, Orientation Sensor (Accelerometer), 6-Axis Motion Sensor (Gyroscope), Digital Compass (Magnetometer)
Stereo speakers and stereo microphones
Wi-Fi® (802.11 a/b/g/n) connectivity
Bluetooth® 2.1+EDR support

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BlackBerry PlayBook priced at $500 for 16GB WiFi model, pre-orders begin today (update: available April 19th)