To say that the BlackBerry PlayBook — and a review of the PlayBook — is something of an anticipated event would be an understatement. From the first moment the tech community caught wind (and sight) of Research In Motion’s first foray into the tablet world, everyone seems to be on pins and needles. It’s not just that another company is making a charge at Apple’s iPad — it’s also that RIM has been in something of a bind lately. The once-unassailable company has watched marketshare slinking away in the direction of iOS and Android, due at least in part to a current crop of devices and new OS which leave much to be desired. But RIM hasn’t been sitting still, either; the Canadian phone-maker has been snapping up software companies like QNX and the impressive UI team of TAT, all in service of supercharging the next lifecycle of BlackBerry products. And the PlayBook is the… ahem, fruits of those labors.

As RIM’s first tablet, but also the first of its products to tout a wholly different OS and underlying architecture, the PlayBook might symbolize the company’s rebirth into the world of the now — a world where just being first doesn’t mean you’re the best (or best loved). So is the 7-inch slate all its cracked up to be? Is this the moment where RIM saves itself? Or, is the PlayBook too little, too late? All those questions — and more — will be answered in my full review, so read on!

Note: In February, 2012, the PlayBook OS was updated to version 2.0. Among other things, PlayBook 2.0 adds an email client to the device, and supports Android apps through a custom player. Be sure and check out our review of the updated software here!