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Report: RIM PlayBook battery doesn’t measure up

Canada’s Research in Motion is hoping to make a big splash with its PlayBook, a tablet companion to its BlackBerry smartphones that it says will beat the iPad at Web browsing and be a hit with enterprise customers. However, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal’s All Things D, the PlayBook’s QNX operating system may come with a high price: the PlayBook’s battery reportedly only lasts a “few hours” per charge. In comparison, the Samsung Galaxy Tab typically gets six hours of use per charge and the Apple iPad can run as long as 10 hours—and both those devices are already on the market.

The report quotes Kaufman Brothers analyst Shaw Wu speculating RIM may delay the launch of the PlayBook in order to address battery-life issues.

RIM’s PlayBook tablet will offer a 7-inch touchscreen display, 1 GB of RAM, and a dual-core 1 GHz processor, which means it should outperform tablets on the market today. (And RIM has giddily released a video showing the PlayBook handling the Web faster than an iPad.) However, that processing power probably means greater battery consumption—and the PlayBook is based on an operating system from recent acquiree QNX, which was originally designed for vehicles and other items with steady power sources, rather than for the battery-sipping requirements of mobile electronics.

Although RIM is undoubtedly putting work into optimizing the QNX operating system for mobile devices—the OS is expected to migrate to RIM’s smartphones eventually—the more practical solution for extending the PlayBook’s battery life may well be a bigger (and heavier) battery. Of course, the PlayBook is already looking to be late the tablet game, and any additional delays mean the PlayBook is not likely to be competing against the current Apple iPad, but the next Apple iPad.

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