BlackBerry PlayBook Official Mini Keyboard Unveiled, Tagged at $119.95

Research in Motion (RIM) continues to enhance the value of its struggling PlayBook tablet by launching a mini keyboard with convertible case. There are plenty of unofficial keyboards floating around for the 7-inch tablet, and now the official one is available. RIM Director for Advanced Accessories James Poulton highlights the value of having a keyboard on 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,” he says.

Unlike other convertible tablets like, say the Asus Transformer Prime, the keyboard is not a dock. It has a laptop style touchpad, with left and right mouse-style clicks, lasts 30 days on a single charge and packs 128 bit encryption for its wireless connection with the tablet. It measures in at 219 x 58 x 154 mm and is recharged through a microUSB port, which negates the need for an extra charger needed.

After hooking up the keyboard  through encrypted Bluetooth connection, the on-screen keyboard will disappear to maximize visible screen space so we can see 100% of our screen. It’s portable and super slim at 0.25 inches thin. If the tablet is in portrait mode or vertically oriented, the keyboard input still operates normally.

The convertible case included lets users carry the tablet and keyboard together, which makes it a perfect working pair. Users can tap the touchpad to simulate a mouse click, tap with two fingers to right-click, and scroll vertically using a two-finger up or down swipes.

What pretty interesting here is the integration with Citrix Retriever. PlayBook users can access a virtual desktop via Citrix, which lets enterprise users do work on a desktop-like environment similar  to a laptop. Citrix enables tablet and even smartphone users to run a Windows-like environment on their portable devices. RIM is promoting the use of the Citrix Receiver app for working with Office documents on the PlayBook. While the Receiver app is free, our company needs to host Office apps using Citrix software in order for the users to access Office applications and documents from the cloud.

The keyboard is available at for select locations worldwide and for pre-order in Canada exclusively at The Source. The accessory is priced at US$ 119.95, not much less than US$ 199 16GB Playbook. Shipping will start on March 23. Those who want to get the Citrix Receiver for BlackBerry PlayBook  can download it from the BlackBerry App World.