Ina Fried

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Research In Motion’s PlayBook Doesn’t Play Well With AT&T

Although Research In Motion’s PlayBook has gone on sale, those trying to use it with an AT&T BlackBerry will find using the tablet quite problematic.

That’s because, in addition to the tablet’s other well-documented limitations, AT&T isn’t yet letting PlayBook owners tether the tablet with a BlackBerry.

“We’re working with RIM to make the BlackBerry Bridge app available for AT&T customers,” an AT&T rep told Mobilized. “We’ve only just received the app for testing, and we want to make sure it will deliver a quality experience before we make it available to our customers.”

That’s a big deal because the PlayBook doesn’t have a cellular connection of its own, requiring either Wi-Fi or a nearby BlackBerry. And it’s not just Internet access that’s lost. Bridge is the only way to get native calendar, email contacts, memo pad, tasks, and BBM apps for the tablet.

A RIM representative was not immediately available to comment on the AT&T issues.

After months of demos and touting, the PlayBook officially went on sale on Tuesday at stores ranging from Best Buy to office supply stores. The 7-inch tablet sells for between $499 to $699, depending on capacity, which just so happen to be the same prices that Apple sells its iPad 2.

RIM has said it will have versions of the PlayBook with built-in cellular connections to Sprint and others later this year. It has also said it is planning to add native programs for e-mail and calendar functions.

Because it uses an all-new QNX-based operating system, the PlayBook is launching with quite few applications. RIM hopes to address that by allowing programs written for the BlackBerry and for Android to run through emulation.

The company’s stock dropped last week, following less-than-glowing reviews for the tablet that, while praising its Web browsing, dinged the device for its other shortcomings, including the lack of apps.