BlackBerry PlayBook’s Limited Time Offer: Just $199

BlackBerry® PlayBook™ starting at $199 at participating retailers for a limited time.The BlackBerry PlayBook will be going head-to-head with Amazon’s Kindle Fire this holiday season at the same price point: $199.

Originally priced at $499, the Research in Motion tablet was discounted to $300 several weeks ago, then dropped to $199 on Monday, the company tweeted.

The discount, though only valid for a limited time, could put pressure on the sales of Amazon’s Kindle Fire, and more so on Barnes & Noble’s $249 Nook Tablet. For starters, the PlayBook has several items not found on those rivals — namely, cameras (5-megapixel capable of 1080p HD video recording, 3-megapixel front camera), GPS, gyroscope, compass and micro HDMI ports.

The PlayBook is also the first tablet to be awarded the FIPS 140-2 certification, meaning it’s been approved for use by U.S. government agencies. Such security might not matter to users who’re only interested in reading Winnie the Pooh, but it’s exactly why RIM’s BlackBerry smartphones are so popular among enterprise users (though fading significantly).

Although both the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet are powered by Android, each are customized in a way that only apps from their respective app store will be available out of the box. The PlayBook, being the first tablet powered by the QNX-based BlackBerry Tablet OS, isn’t faring better in this department, but it will change for the better in an upcoming software update.

Come February 17, BlackBerry PlayBook users will finally get the much-needed native e-mail, contacts and calendar client that were strangely missing when the tablet launched. They will also be able to run Android apps through the new Android App Player.

According to RIM’s website, the discounted PlayBook is available at Best Buy, Wireless Giant, Office Depot, Radio Shack and Walmart. Starting at $199 for the 16 GB version, the price is increased by $100 and $200, respectively, for the 32 GB and 64 GB models.

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