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India claims Rs.1,569.51 tablet computer

Posted: 10 Oct 2011     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:tablet  students  computer 

The Indian government launches a tablet computer for students priced at a subsidized rate of Rs.1,569.51 ($35) and made by a hitherto unknown manufacturer, Datawind Ltd, a developer of wireless Web access products based in the U.K. The same gadget will be sold to the general public at a retail price of Rs.2,690.58 ($60).

The gadget named "Aakash" (or sky) features Wi-Fi connectivity, cloud-based storage, 256MB RAM, 32GB expandable memory slot and two USB ports. The tablet has a 2,100mAh battery which can reportedly last for two to three hours depending on the type of usage.

The version for students will not have an embedded cellular modem or SIM card, but both versions will run on Google's Android 2.2 (Froyo) platform. Both will feature a 177.8mm resistive touch screen with 800x480 resolution, weigh about 350grams and include Wi-Fi connectivity for internet access and cloud storage. The tablet claims to support formats such as DOC, DOCX, PDF and PPTX and has a standard 3.5mm headphone jack.

Suneet Singh Tuli, CEO of Datawind, told a television channel that the product will be made in India and go through extensive product testing. "This is a made-in-India product, with the screen coming from a South Korean company and the chip from a U.S. company. It has 800 components and the screen cost the most, under Rs.448.43 ($10)." Tuli was quoted as saying.

Kapil Sibal, federal minister for education and information technology, said Aakash will be available throughout India. But many were sceptical of Sibal's announcement, given that primary school education in the country has for decades been considered insufficient in terms of quantity and quality.

In 2007, India's government said it was working to make available a Rs.448.43 ($10) laptop computer. It later said the laptop would cost Rs.4,484.30 ($100). It is not known if the Rs.1,569.51 ($35) tablet computer is related to that project.

The Rs.4,484.30 ($100) laptop was being developed by state-run scientific and educational agencies. India's government said it will have the Rs.1,569.51 ($35) tablet computer further improved by government-owned research institutions, if necessary.

According to news reports from New Delhi, where the product was launched, Datawind claimed it will make a profit at a retail price. The company said the version for students will be subsidized by the government.

One company that dropped out of the race for developing the Rs.1,569.51 ($35) tablet said it did so because it did not see how it could make the product available—despite the subsidy borne by the government—at a decent profit.

- Kariyatil Krishnadas
  EE Times

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