Research in Motion (RIMM), the maker of the BlackBerry, announced this week that its upcoming PlayBook tablet will let users download several thousand Android applications to the device. Consumers interested in purchasing a tablet computer who have issues with Apple or are not impressed with the existing array of Android-based tablets may consider picking up a 7-inch PlayBook when it becomes available April 19.

The PlayBook is designed for both work and play

While you have wanted to purchase an iPad since it came out last April, your company’s network administrator may have told you not to use it for various work functions. Like its smartphone counterpart, a BlackBerry tablet should get the green light for email and other work-related tasks.

The knock on the BlackBerry – and why it has been losing market share to the iPhone and Android-based smartphones in recent years – is that it is deprived of a quality app experience. And the tablet computing experience is meaningless without access to a high number of quality apps.

BlackBerry’s App World store offers only a small fraction of the hundreds of thousands of apps available on the iPhone and Android devices. Thus cutting a deal with Google and offering access to its Android Marketplace makes the tablet a much more compelling device to own. Potential PlayBook buyers should note that BlackBerry won’t have its Android App Player available on day one and that not all apps will be accessible. Still, having a much deeper choice of games, browsers and social networking apps will provide for a superior experience.

Existing BlackBerry owners will feel comfortable

This reviewer found the web browsing experience on the PlayBook to be superior to other tablets after getting a demo of the device at the Computer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this year. The PlayBook will also run on an upgraded 6.1 BlackBerry operating system and have all of the capabilities BlackBerry addicts enjoy.

Not to be outdone by its contemporaries, the PlayBook will include a dual-core processor, storage capabilities of 16, 32, and 64 GB, and front and rear-facing cameras. There is also an accelerometer and gyroscope for enhanced gameplay. Best of all, the most basic line of wifi-enabled PlayBooks will retail at less than $500.

Other Android-based tabs worth tapping into

While no tablet to date has been able to carve much market share away from the iPad, there are a small handful among the dozens that are currently available and worth considering.

Motorola Xoom: The first Android-based tablet to run on Google’s (GOOG) Honeycomb 3.0 operating system, the Xoom is a compelling (albeit more expensive) alternative to the iPad. Starting at $599, the 10-inch Xoom has the iPad’s elegant design and virtually all of its features. It is also the best showcase to date of Android apps in tablet form.

Samsung Galaxy S: On a mission to unseat Apple in tablet dominance, Samsung this week unveiled newer and cheaper versions of its already popular tablet. With a 10.1-inch screen, design thinner than the iPad 2 and $499 opening price point, the Galaxy has a fighter’s chance of walking away with the prize.

Upcoming Amazon tablet?: Now that Amazon has its own store to market Android apps, speculation is rampant that the uber-retailer will come out with its own tablet. Already competing with Apple with the original Kindle eReader, it’s not a stretch of imagination to see a fully operational Android-based Amazon tab on the market by this Christmas.

Stay tuned.