India has finally received its much awaited low-cost tablet, Aakash. The devices are being assembled by a British company in India itself and the government is buying the first units of these devices for Rs. 2250 each. The government will provide these tablets for free to students, initially, at a pilot run of 100,000 units.
The Telecom and Education Minister, Kapil Sibal, says, “The rich have access to the digital world, the poor and ordinary have been excluded. Aakash will end that digital divide."
The main features of the tablet are that it runs on Android 2.2 (Froyo) and comes with a 7-inch resistive touchscreen with 800x480 resolution. Its weight is just 350 grams. It has a 256MB of RAM, a 32GB expandable memory slot and two USB ports. ‘Aakash’ offers a warranty of 12 months and supports many formats like DOC, DOCX, PDF and PPTX etc.
According to the British company, DataWind, that assembled the devices, “the cost would drop when mass production begins. The tablet will be commercially available from November for Rs 2999. The commercial version of the tablet would have no duty waivers or subsidy, as in the government's version and come with added features like an inbuilt cellular modem and SIM to access internet.”
As far as the reactions to this new innovative device are concerned, they were somewhat mixed as the middle-class technology department students said that it needs refinement but is good for the poor.
Nikant Vohra, an electrical engineering student, says, “It could be better. If you see it from the price only, it's okay, but we have laptops and have used iPads, so we know the difference."
According to a report by risk analysis firm, Maplecroft, ”India lags behind fellow BRIC nations Brazil, Russia and China in the drive to get its 1.2 billion population connected to technologies such as the Internet and mobile phones.”
According to another recent report, just 8% of Indians have access to Internet as compared to 40% of the people in China.