BlackBerry Tablet announced next week?

It's alleged to be called the BlackPad and next week, RIM is likely to unveil its BlackBerry tablet for the very first time.

At least, that's what the Wall Street Journal claims. The publication believes it will be unveiled at a developers' conference in San Francisco, with a commercial launch before the year is out.

So what is it? Well, if the rumours are true, the BlackPad is a 7-inch touchscreen device with one or two built-in cameras. Connectivity will be Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, but with no mobile network access. You'll have to hook up via your BlackBerry for that.

Interestingly, it will not feature the recently-announced BlackBerry 6 operating system, despite the general feeling that it had been developed with a tablet in mind. Instead, it will run on a completely new platform built by QNX Software Systems, a company bought by RIM last year.

Will it be an iPad-beater? Probably not. It sounds a more niche product than Apple's device and with no mobile network access, it might be a tough thing to find on the high street. Saying that, we do hope to be won over when it does appear and if RIM can get the device to market this year, it might yet make a mark before the glut of Android tablets land on the shelves.

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