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BlackBerry tablet to trump iPad with Flash, videoconferencing

Year end arrival?

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More details are emerging about Research in Motion's long-rumored BlackBerry tablet: it will have a seven-inch display, both back- and front-facing cameras, and will support hardware-accelerated Adobe Flash.

These speculations were reported by Cnet last Friday based on a research note by Ashok Kumar of Rodman & Renshaw, and fleshed out today by Betanews thanks to "a source close to RIM".

Kumar noted that the tablet will be powered by a Marvell processor, which led Cnet to theorize that it would be a 1GHz Armada 610 — which makes perfect sense, seeing as how Marvell describes that part as being aimed at "mainstream Mobile Internet Devices (MIDs), connected consumer products, eReaders, eBooks, tablets, media players and new personal information appliances."

The Armada 610 includes support for full 1080p video encode and decode, an image signal processor capable of handling up to 16 megapixels, and integrated audio processing and 3D engines.

Presumably, the tablet will run a version of RIM's BlackBerry 6 operating system, about which the company released a new teaser video yesterday, and will include the WebKit browser The Reg told you about this February.

Adobe announced last October that Flash 10.1 would be coming to BlackBerries. I t's expected to arrive later this year. RIM expanded on that news last November at the BlackBerry Developer Conference, when they announced an enhanced collaborative relationship with Adobe regarding the Flash Platform and Creative Suite content-development apps. At that time, RIM also announced support of OpenGL ES for 3D games and graphics, a must for cracking the lucrative — and growing — tablet-games market.

Kumar's research report noted that RIM is "trying to pull forward the launch of the 7-inch touchscreen tablet from early next year to year end" — which, of course, would enable it to cash in on the inevitable holiday gadget-buying frenzy. Betanews's sources didn't provide release-timing details.

The Blackberry tablet's front- and rear-facing cameras would give it one strong leg up on its obvious competition: Apple's iPad, which has no camera at all, let alone two. In keeping with RIM's business background, the cameras could enable video conferencing, not unlike that planned for Cisco's Android-based Cius tablet announced in late June.

Flash support in the BlackBerry tablet would, of course, provide another capability not found in the iPad. While there are those who deride Flash for its CPU-cycle hunger (we can think of one Cupertino exec in particular), Adobe's video and graphics enabler still carries the bulk of the web's video, and many users would prefer to have access to it — such as your Reg reporter, who was unable to watch Univision's live streaming of the Holland-Spain final on his iPad because of that site's reliance on what Steve Jobs has dubbed a "closed and proprietary" platform. ®

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