Thursday, 28 June 2012

Aakash-II is ready for release, confirms Sibal

The Aakash dream may be very close to realisation yet again and we hope that it gets better this time. According to reports, the launch of the upgraded version of the Aakash tablet, Aakash-II may be as close as early next month and if a statement by Datawind CEO Sunit Singh Tuli is to be believed then the specifications of the upgraded tablet have met with the approval of the government. Reports have been quoting HRD Minister, Kapil Sibal as saying that the tablet is now ready for release and that it is packed with more features and enhanced speed. He added, "Unlike other tablet devices, Aakash can also be used to create computer programs, in Python, C, C++ and Scilab." In this report, Tuli further revealed that the production of the Aakash-II tablets will begin a few days before the device launches in the market, and that before the official launch a good number of devices would have been produced. 'UK-based Datawind, which had submitted about 100 tablets to IIT-Bombay for testing, said the government has approved the specifications for the upgraded version and it will be launched soon in the market,' elaborated the report further.

Sibal, reportedly was at the inauguration of a teacher training programme conducted by IIT-Bombay under 'talk to a teacher' project of the National Mission on Education through ICT. Here, Sibal, reportedly suggested it to IIT-Bombay Director Devang Khakhar that Aakash devices be given to heads of a few institutions associated with the training programme. At this event, Sibal even thanked IIT-Bombay for 'doing a "wonderful" job in incorporating useful software to Aakash.'

Datawind were the makers of the initial version of the Aakash tablet, and along with IIT-Rajasthan, they took up the task of manufacturing the Aakash tablet in India for the masses. However, soon after, it began facing a lot of criticism, since several users who had begun using the tablets began complaining of the tablet's poor build quality, less than satisfactory battery, among other things. Soon after, altercations between Datawind and IIT-Rajasthan began over a set of specifications, which the latter wanted to incorporate on the tablet. IIT-Rajasthan wanted the Aakash tablet to be water-proof, and include a set of some more military-style specifications, something which Datawind did not agree to, since they believed a humble tablet, like Aakash didn't need military-styled specifications. Soon, the project went into the hands of IIT-Bombay.

The low-cost dream also took a hit when Datawind had a fall-out with their Hyderabad-based, assembly partner, Quad Electronics Solutions Pvt. Ltd. In the blame game that followed, Quad Electronics claimed they did not receive payment from Datawind. On the other hand, Datawind said that Quad Electronics had infringed on their intellectual property rights and allegedly also signed a separate memorandum of understanding (MoU) directly with IIT-Rajasthan.

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