Research In Motion, Canada-based BlackBerry maker, surprised tablet fans attending Mobile World Congress 2011 in Barcelona, Spain with the news that it’s adding two new models to the mix. Joining previously announced WiFi and 3G models are 4G LTE and 4G HSPA+ varieties designed to take advantage of the latest iterations of fourth-generation cellular networks.

The two additional models will launch in the second half of the year, said Waterloo, Ontario-based Research In Motion. The full PlayBook lineup now looks like this:

  • BlackBerry PlayBook with Wi-Fi
  • BlackBerry 4G PlayBook with Wi-Fi + WiMax
  • BlackBerry 4G PlayBook with Wi-Fi + LTE
  • BlackBerry 4G PlayBook with Wi-Fi + HSPA+

In addition to the WiFi and 4G connectivity, each flavor of the PlayBook tablet also supports secure wireless tethering via Bluetooth, mobile hotspots and BlackBerry Bridge technology, explained in the below video, that lets you wirelessly pair the tablet with a BlackBerry phone to access corporate email, calendar, contacts and other data in a secure, encrypted manner.

Technically, 4G LTE model should be a future proof solution as carriers move to this radio technology, but some – like T-Mobile USA and AT&T – are upgrading their existing third-generation GSM technology to HSPA+ which offers data speeds of up to 21Mbps, but it’s really 3.5G rather than 4G, no matter what their marketing says. To learn about key advantages of LTE over GSM and CDMA radio technologies, check out John’s guide.

Source: RIM