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RIM downgraded as $200 PlayBook vanishes

BlackBerry PlayBook

Last week, Canada’s Research in Motion cut the price on its low-end PlayBook tablet to just $200 for a limited time in an effort to woo Thanksgiving holiday shoppers to the device just as competitors like the Barnes & Noble Nook tablet and Kindle Fire went on sale. However, just as quickly as the $200 PlayBook appeared, it seems to be vanishing: retailers appear to be in the process of removing the $200 PlayBook devices from their online catalogs, and some Best Buy customers have reported their orders for the $200 tablets have been cancelled.

Complaints in Best Buy customer forums were first reported by Electronista. Quick checks of other retailers that had previously been offering the $200 tablets (Staples, Office Depot, Walmart, and RadioShack) finds the only $200 tablets listed as available are refurbished models.

The move could indicate that RIM’s idea of “a limited time only” was indeed just a period of a few days surrounding the Thanksgiving holiday, or that the $200 promotional price proved popular with consumers, even as the Kindle Fire hit the streets. If Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu has lowered his rating on RIM shares from “buy” to “neutral” and suspended his target price for the company’s stock. He notes the company is facing serious competition from the likes of Samsung, Apple, Amazon, and HTC, and that significant service outages in October have damaged RIM with its bread-and-butter enterprise and government customers.

Wu took his critique a step further, saying he should have downgraded RIM’s stock back in October when it was trading for $24 a share. RIM’s stock price closed last week at $16. However, Wu did note that RIM has “intrinsic value,” including a large patent portfolio and 70 million subscribers, and declined to downgrade the stock to “underperform.”

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Geoff Duncan
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Geoff Duncan writes, programs, edits, plays music, and delights in making software misbehave. He's probably the only member…
Sprint to release the BlackBerry Q10 on August 30, when it’ll be yours for $200
BlackBerry Q10 review back

Sprint, having passed on the opportunity to carry the BlackBerry Z10, has announced the availability of the BlackBerry Q10. The QWERTY phone will be on sale from August 30, when it’ll cost you $200 provided you sign at the bottom of a two-year contract. The release comes just over two months after the Q10 hit AT&T, where it has the same price tag. 
A quick check of AT&T’s site reveals the Q10’s price hasn’t altered, however as the network has dropped the price of the touchscreen Z10 to $100, it’s perhaps only a matter of time before the Q10 is also reduced. It’s worth checking too, as the phone’s arrival on Sprint could prompt it to do so. But it’s not AT&T that Sprint needs to watch, as T-Mobile doesn’t charge anything up front at all for the BlackBerry Q10, and instead adds $25 per month to your tariff for the phone. It’s tough to argue with that.
So, if you’re heart’s set on a BlackBerry Q10, what do you get? The physical QWERTY keyboard should be the number one reason for buying the phone, as it’s a rarity in the smartphone world. It’s paired to a 3.1-inch touchscreen which has a 720 x 720 pixel resolution, plus the phone has an 8-megapixel camera on the rear. It’s powered by a 1.5GHz dual-core processor, has 2GB of RAM, plus 16GB of internal storage memory.
Sprint may be a little late bringing out the Q10, but it’s not going to make the same mistake twice, as it’s said to have already signed up for the next touchscreen BlackBerry, the BlackBerry A10/Z30/Aristo. If previous rumors turn out to be correct, Sprint could have the phone ready for sale in November. In the meantime, get ready for the Q10’s arrival on August 30.

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Best apps of the week: QWOP, Pacific Rim, Thunderspace, and more
Best apps of the week 07_14_2013 header

This week, Apple celebrated the fifth anniversary of its App Store by making a handful of favorite apps free. Popular games and apps had their price tags slashed to give you the opportunity to get your hands on apps that you were holding out on purchasing. If you got lost in your newfound freebies, you may have missed some of the best apps and updates that were released this week. Fear not. We've collected the best ones and put them together for you to enjoy.
Walking Dead: 400 Days (iOS, free)
The Walking Dead game could have been just another poorly made tie-in to get more people interested in the TV show and comic book series, but it holds up on its own, as proven by its award-winning first season. As players continue to wait for the second season to become available, they can now play through a series of stories that tell the tale of five survivors fighting their way through the first 400 days of the zombie apocalypse. (Android, free) itself isn't new, but this is the fist time the service has ever made an appearance on Android. This messaging system meets social network allows users to send text, photos, videos, and voice messages, even to those that don't use the service. When communicating with other users, they can like, comment, and reply to your messages in the style of a social network post. It's a new layer of communication.
Google Maps (Android update, free)
After promising big things to come with Google Maps back in May, Google started making good on its promise this week. It rolled out an update to Google Maps for Android that included plenty of new features including live traffic updates on the map, dynamic rerouting if a quicker path becomes available, Zagat location rating information, and plenty more. There's also some cosmetic changes and improvements to how you get around in-app that you'll notice before even playing around with the service itself.
(Read our full Google Maps for Android Review.)
IFTTT (iOS, free)
IFTTT (If This Then That) allows you to get the most out of all of your favorite apps and services by creating recipes to get them to work together. All you have to do is activate your channels, the services that you want to use, and then start playing around with different ways to get them to communicate with one another. You can do things like have the weather texted to you every morning, add Foursquare check-ins to Google Calendar, and more. You just have to play around with it and see what you can get it to do - or steal other people's recipes.
QWOP (Android, $1)
The game best known for being impossibly difficult has made its way over to Android. QWOP challenges you to help a track and field star accomplish his goal of competing in five different events. Unfortunately, you're almost definitely going to fail because of the game's ridiculously complicated physics engine. You won't be using your keyboard like on the browser-based version of this game, but instead touch controls on the screen of your device. Things aren't any easier, though. 
TheScore (BlackBerry update, free)
If you just can't get enough sports or are stuck in a place where you can't watch a game live but still absolutely must know what is happening, TheScore is your solution. Now updated for BlackBerry 10, TheScore include new leagues like the ATP and WTA and box scores from the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, and more. You can now also hold your device horizontally to get a different view of the action and see more information at a new angle.
Pacific Rim (iOS and Android, $5)
If you've seen the previews for Pacific Rim the film, you know that it's an over-the-top, action heavy film that will be full of ridiculously awesome looking moments as giant creatures duke it out on screen. Pacific Rim the game does its best to capture that, and though it may be a bit of a knock off of Infinity Blade, there's really nothing that suits it better than that style of game. A total beat-em-up, the game will get you your monster-fighting fix until you can make it to the theater.
Thunderspace (iOS, $1)
Sometimes you need a little extra help relaxing. Thunderspace is designed to give you just that. This app utilizes the work of an Emmy Award winning nature sound recordist and combined with some lighting effects that are made to replicate the look of lightning to create an environment that will help you find some comfort and get some rest. After all, you've had a stressful day downloading all the apps that we listed here.
SoundTracking (iOS and Android update, free)
Soundtracking is a popular music discovery and sharing service that makes it easy to show others what you are listening to via social networks or email and text. In its latest update, the process is made faster and easier than ever. You can ask friends what they are listening to or dedicate a track to them. There is now hashtag support so you can link your music posts to a particular topic or trend. Finally, the song recognition of the app has been improved to work almost instantly.

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The BlackBerry Q10 is ready to pre-order through AT&T for $200, will ship mid-June

Check our full review of the BlackBerry Q10 phone.
It has been almost three months since AT&T put the BlackBerry Z10 up for pre-order, and now it has also made its sister phone, the BlackBerry Q10, available too. A tweet alerted us AT&T was about to open the order books for BlackBerry’s QWERTY phone, saying that as of June 5 it would be for sale through the company’s website.
AT&T isn’t the first network in the U.S. to put the BlackBerry Q10 up for sale, as last week, Verizon announced it was accepting orders for the black and exclusive white Q10 models, again priced at $200. A couple of weeks before this saw Sprint also confirm the Q10, but only as a model coming soon, and not as a pre-order. At the time of writing, this hasn’t changed.
The BlackBerry Q10 is BlackBerry’s companion device to the touchscreen Z10, and is equipped with the same 1.5GHz dual-core processor, 2GB of RAM, 8-megapixel camera, and 16GB of storage memory. The differences lie in the form factor, as the Q10 is a traditional QWERTY BlackBerry phone, equipped with a 3.1-inch AMOLED screen which boasts a 720 x 720 pixel resolution. Unlike the Z10, it will ship with the latest BlackBerry 10.1 software already installed.
Despite the QWERTY phone being the underdog these days, BlackBerry has two such devices on its books, and only one touchscreen phone. During BlackBerry Live last month the cheaper BlackBerry Q5 was announced, which has a 5-megapixel camera and a 1.2GHz processor. It’s expected to go on sale in certain markets in July.
Going back to the AT&T BlackBerry Q10, the pricing matches that of the BlackBerry Z10 at $200 with a two-year contract, and if you absolutely must pre-order the phone, then you can do so right now, and it’ll ship on June 18.

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