The eagerly awaiting iPad 2 challenger the BlackBerry PlayBook is finally available to pre-order from RIM Today, available through Best Buy’s website. It will be available to purchase in store in the US and Canada on April 19th.

The starting price for the entry level model is $499 that includes a dual 1GHz CPU, 7 inch display with a screen resolution of 1024 x 600 supporting multi-touch gestures, 1GB of RAM, HDMI out, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 2 cameras and its own propriety OS.

Additional models offer larger storage options and 3G coverage providing a solid and competitive price range comparable to the iPad 2’s lineup, albeit with a smaller screen.
So far rivals Motorola and Samsung have struggled with their tablet offerings to match Apple’s pricing. RIM look like the first to be following in a similar price structure, which may finally help to offer consumers with an affordable alternative to the iOS ecosystem. Expect a 4G version of the PlayBook later in the year.

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