Tuesday 4 October 2011

India's very own $35 tablet to launch tomorrow.

We've been reporting on the development of India's extremely low-budget tablet, since the beginning of 2011. It seemed like the device that the HRD ministry, with HRD minister, Kapil Sibal had announced over a year ago, died a quiet death as not much was heard about it after the initial buzz. Just to give you quick 'blast from the past' this was the famous $35 (Rs. 1,750) tablet that was announced with Android on board and equipped with features that manged to include Wi-Fi and cloud storage in the low price. Now, according to an Economic Times report, the project has been resurrected, so to speak, and will be officially launched tomorrow - 5th of October, 2011.

Directed at the students, in particular, the tablet – a brainchild of the HRD minister Sibal, and technologists of IIT Rajasthan will go up for sale throughout the country. It should be in the spoitlight once again. Let's hope it has enough to stay there this time.

Although, the tablet is scheduled for a launch tomorrow, bits about its basic functionalities have already been doing the rounds. Other than Wi-Fi connectivity, the screen size still remains unclear. If we were to take a wild guess and judging from the pictures, we'd estimate this to be a 7-inch resistive touchscreen with a stylus hidden somwhere on the body. In addition to 256 MB of RAM and 2GB of internal storage there's support for 32GB more via microSD cards. They've even managed to throw in a couple of USB ports. The low-cost tablets would be manufactured by a UK-based company, called Datawind that brought us the PocketSurfer, a while back that didn't seem to make much of an impact.

Interestingly, while the tablet is being priced at a mere Rs. 1,750 for colleges across the country, according to the report, the manufacturing costs itself, go up to a good Rs. 3,000. That sounds a bit off. However, since the low-cost tablet is a part of the government’s much larger ambitious plan – to bring in information and technology resources to the education structure - the remainder of this manufacturing and sales deficit will be subsidized by them. The ‘retail price’ of the tablet, however, remains to be a mystery. The same report from ET also carried the quotes of the chief executive of the company making the device, Suneet Singh Tuli, who said that the tablet would cost as much as “a vegetarian meal for two at a five-star hotel in Delhi”. The report further states that the government had initially planned a $35 laptop, but during the course of its conception, they decided to go in the tablet direction.

All of it looks extremely promising, but a little hard to believe given that so far the cheapest tablets still cost a little over Rs. 7,000. But, we won't have to wait too long to see what kind of official price tag this device will come with, so stay tuned.

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