SmartPlanet reported on a series of inexpensive tablets from India especially the $41 one called Aakash, which was launched by the Indian government.
Datawind Inc., a Montreal-based tech company, made the tablet in response to the Indian government’s challenge to create the world’s cheapest tablet.
Aakash, which was further subsidized for students to $35, received bad reviews. Critics said it had poor battery life, an unresponsive screen, absence of useful apps, less storage space and a slow processor.
In November, Datawind relaunched its tablet as Aakash 2. The improved tablet is powered by Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich run on 1 GHz processor and 512 MB RAM with 4 GB internal storage and 32 GB microSD support. Its basic features include 7-inch capacitative touch screen, battery life of three hours, 0.3 megapixel front camera and WiFi connectivity.
The Indian government will buy about 100,000 units from Datawind for Rs. 2263 ($41) and make it available to students for Rs.1130 ($20). The commercial version of the tablet can be bought online for Rs. 4499 ($81)
“India is a critical player on security issues … but you are also a leader on development and technology,” U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said at the unveiling in November. “Indeed, India is a superpower on the information superhighway.”
“We need to do more to help all children and young people make the most of the opportunities provided by informationand communications technology – especially all those who are still unconnected from the digital revolution,” he added.
SmartPlanet spoke with tech expert Prasanto Roy, editorial adviser at CyberMedia India, on what’s new with the tablet and will it work better.
SP: What’s the Indian government’s objective in launching this low cost tablet?
PR: To provide a technology platform for education to India’s students, starting with college students. To ultimately provide a tablet computer for every student in India, an estimated 220 million number, in the coming years. This period has been variously quoted as five years, six to seven years, and seven to eight years.
SP: It seems that Aakash 2 is going to see a further drop in its price to $35 by manufacturing the touchscreen locally at $2 instead of importing it at $22. What do you make of that?
PR: Well, of course it’s a good idea to drive down the prices as much as possible, as long as it remains a profitable and hence sustainable and scalable venture for Datawind and its suppliers. The big change will be in moving the manufacturing of touch-panel assemblies from Datawind’s Montreal facilities to a new Amritsar-based plant. Even so, I don’t see how the math in the link above works out: the difference in the cost of the touch panel can’t be between $22 Montreal versus $2 Amritsar.
SP: How do these costs compare to the o