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BlackBerry PlayBook to get video-chat feature

BlackBerry Playbook
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Research In Motion’s soon-to-debut BlackBerry PlayBook tablet will get video-chat functionality, reports PC World. The feature will come in the form of an app, and should be available with the tablet when it lauches, or soon after, says a RIM executive.

This new rumor comes from RIM’s vice president of enterprise strategy David Heit, who spoke with PC World about the video conferencing feature, which he says to expect “very soon.” With the PlayBook’s front- and rear-facing cameras, it may come as no surprise that the tablet will support video calls. But until now, it was unknown whether or not the functionality would be an in-house RIM production, or be provided by a third party source (like Skype).

While the PlayBook’s video-chat feature is more intended more for business use, the functionality is similar to Apple’s consumer-friendly FaceTime app, which is now available on the iPhone 4, iPad 2 and properly enabled Mac computers.

According to a recent leak, it does not seem likely that the next round of BlackBerry smartphone devices will have the video-call feature, as they are not expected to have front-facing cameras.

RIM has not yet revealed an official release date for the PlayBook. Rumors indicate, however, that it will launch on April 10.

Smaller than either the 10.1-inch Motorola Xoom or the 9.7-inch iPad 2, the PlayBook measures in at 7-inches. It comes loaded with a Cortex-A9 dual-core processor capable of handling some heavy lifting, and 1 GB of RAM. A Wi-Fi-only model of the PlayBook is expected at the initial launch. But RIM is said to have four separate models — Wi-Fi-only, Wi-Fi + WiMax, Wi-Fi + LTE, and Wi-Fi + HSPA+ — in the works.

In addition to video-calling, another feature that puts the PlayBook directly in line with the iPad 2 is the inclusion of a digital music store provided by RIM partner 7digitial. The store currently has around 13 million songs available. Customers who find the DRM-strapped music available through iTunes will be pleased that 7digital downloads include no such restrictions, which make the audio files easily transfered between devices.

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