After watching its smartphone market share decline in recent years due to the likes of the iPhone, RIM has a good enough reason to pick a fight with Apple. However, the battle lines are being drawn up over on the tablet side.

The Canadian company’s first foray into tablets, the Playbook, will finally hit shelves on April 19. The entry-level 16GB model will retail for $499, with $599 and $699 price tags for the 32GB and 64GB models, respectively. That puts the Playbook neck-and-neck with the iPad 2 and at a cheaper pricepoint than the Samsung Galaxy Tab and Motorola Xoom. The rest of its specs—size, processor speed—are virtually the same as the iPad 2. Only thing missing is a rival to that cool-ass cover.

Pre-orders are now available for the device through Best Buy. No word yet on a 3G model.—Devin Chanda

[via Gizmodo]