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RIM launches Mini Keyboard for BlackBerry PlayBook

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Blackberry Playbook
Research in Motion has introduced a new mini-keyboard peripheral for its PlayBook, suggesting that the firm is committed to making the struggling tablet a success.

The BlackBerry Mini Keyboard is an ultra portable accessory that comes in a convertible case which doubles as a stand for the PlayBook.

It has a full QWERTY keyboard and an integrated touchpad that allows users to navigate and control the tablet, including single taps for mouse clicks, and two finger up-and-down swipes for page scrolling.

When the keyboard is active, the PlayBook tablet's virtual keyboard is hidden so the entire 7-inch display is available for the task at hand.

"Whether you're typing email, creating documents, surfing the web or using other apps, the BlackBerry Mini Keyboard and its integrated carrying case is an ideal accessory," said James Poulton, the director of Advanced Accessories at RIM.

The Mini Keyboard connects to the PlayBook via Bluetooth with a 128-bit encryption to keep the data passed between keyboard and tablet secure. It charges using a micro-USB charger and the battery lasts up to 30 days on a full charge.

RIM's PlayBook tablet has suffered a torrid time since it launched last year, as sluggish demand from consumers led to RIM swallowing the heavy cost of unsold stock and drastically cutting the product's price in an effort to kickstart sales.

There was some suggestion that the struggling mobile hardware giant would cut its losses on the tablet range, but the recent launch of the new PlayBook 2.0 operating system and now the Mini Keyboard indicates that RIM is prepared to get behind the product.

RIM said that the keyboard supports various new features in PlayBook 2.0, including the Messages, Contacts and Calendar apps, as well as third-party services such as Documents To Go and Citrix Receiver, which gives remote access to Windows desktop from the tablet.

The BlackBerry Mini Keyboard is available now for pre-order worldwide at the BlackBerry Shop, priced at $119.99 (£77).

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