NEW YORK — Research In Motion Ltd. on Tuesday said its tablet computer, the BlackBerry PlayBook, will start selling in the U.S. and Canada on April 19 for $499 to $699.

RIM said that customers can start pre-ordering the gadget – its answer to Apple Inc.’s popular iPad devices – through Best Buy. The PlayBook has a 7-inch screen, smaller than the iPad.

It runs BlackBerry software and can connect to a BlackBerry, acting as a bigger screen for it.