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India Outs its Much-Touted $35 Slate

By Lito Carasig - Thursday, October 06, 2011

After a great deal of waiting, India has finally released its $35 Aakash tablet eyeing the academic fields as its primary niche market.
Some background first before we go into the techie details. 

For more than a year now (five years, in development), India has been researching its answer to the OLPC project, with the same aim of providing its citizens a cheap alternative to the latest technology – though this time in tablet form.

The result is the $35 Aakash tablet – which actually cost around $60 (Rs 2,999 in India). In reality, the tablet is the Ubislate 7 manufactured by Datawind, the same company that gave us the Pocketsurfer3

The Aakash tablet (or Ubislate 7, if you want) has a 7-inch TFT capacitive multitouch screen with HD playback capabilities, powered by a Conexant CPU running at 366 MHz with 256MB of RAM and a minute 2GB of internal storage (expandable using the built-in microSD slot, up to 32GB).

The device connects to the internet via Wi-Fi or GPRS, as the site boast, “Embedded modem eliminates the need for external dongles and allows internet access everywhere”. Android flavour of choice is Froyo and the user gets to access the Getjar market for all his apps needs.  To complete the slate, it has stereo sound earphone jacks and a full-size usb port.  The tablet is 188mm x 116mm x 12mm and weighs 350 grams. Oh, BTW, it’s also a phone! (just don’t forget to plug in a 3G dongle though).

The tablet will be made available by the Indian government to its more than 10 million students at a subsidized price of Rs1,700 (about $35), which would make India the largest Android using community in the world. Since this unit isn’t going to be sold outside of India, potential modding of the unit could take some time (or it may happen very quickly as Indian computing students get their hands on them).

India’s Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal mentions, “The low-cost devices are intended to “lift villagers out of poverty” by teaching them basic computer skills, including word processing and web browsing”.

With technology moving at such a blurring speed, it’s about time that someone has dedicated their efforts to bridge the technology gap between rich and poor to provide the much needed assistance that our less fortunate brothers deserve.

If India’s effort proves to be a success then perhaps other nations of the world will actually follow in their footsteps to help make the future a brighter one, not just for a select few, but for everyone.

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