RIM Launches Bluetooth Mini Keyboard for Blackberry PlayBook

Dave Courbanou

March 14, 2012

2 Min Read
RIM Launches Bluetooth Mini Keyboard for Blackberry PlayBook

If you were looking to buy a BlackBerry Playbook, but were holding out for an official keyboard attachment, your wait is now over. RIM has launched the BlackBerry PlayBook Mini Keyboard, complete with touchpad. But is this what consumers have been clamoring for? Oh, RIM …

So you want to know about the keyboard? Well, it’s a keyboard, and yes, it’s nice to have one, especially since mobile productivity applications have become particularly robust. The touchpad attached to the keyboard provides gestures to allow tap, click swiping and scrolling without having to touch the screen also. They keyboard was designed to be lightweight, measuring just 6mm thick. It should last 30 days on a single charge and, like its iPad counterparts, exists as part of a case for the whole PlayBook unit, compact and portable. The keyboard is also incredibly stylish and features a very MacBook-esque layout with a rounded-edge square, buttonless touchpad and chiclet-style keys.

It’s also the most secure keyboard you could have. RIM implanted 128-bit encryption to ensure no unscrupulous coffee shop hackers hijack your Bluetooth connection and start logging key data. Third-party developers also will be able to take advantage of the unit, providing full keyboard integration to any app that requests it. RIM thinks this will be especially helpful for virtualization applications, and I’m inclined to agree.

But there are a few problems. First, RIM should have introduced this keyboard when it first launched the PlayBook. The iPad has had keyboard support since its inception. Bad move, RIM. Adding insult to injury, the price tag is atrocious: at $119.99 it’s hardly a bargain. Despite the PlayBook’s fierce and loyal following, I think this price tag is high enough to make even the most affluent of buyers reconsider.

But perhaps more troublesome than anything is RIM’s continually demure attitude about reinvigorating its product line. One week after the new iPad release, RIM breaks down the doors with a new keyboard? Yawn. Instead, RIM should have used the spring season to hype-up a summer release of a new phone or ship device previews out to hungry mobile developers. But RIM isn’t.

At least there’s only a slight delay before the device is available: You can buy the keyboard now and it will ship March 23, 2012.

But realistically … a new keyboard for an ailing product? RIM will be the next Palm. You can quote me on that.

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