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India Launches World's Cheapest Tablet

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WATCH OUT, APPLE?
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Amazon's low-cost Kindle Fire, was just released last week to great fan fare, but its bragging rights as a cheaper alternative to the iPad might have to be revoked as news is out from India that the world's cheapest tablet has just been launched.

Say hello to Aakash ("sky" in Hindi), the $35 (Rs 2,2760 tablet from maker Datawind. The tablet is the product of an ongoing project by the Indian government to bring modern technology to the rural poor. Indian Human Resource Minister Kapil Sibal basically announced the government's plan to produce a $35 tablet slightly over a year ago, and invited tenders from manufacturers. DataWind, a Canadian company, won the bid to make the pilot batch of 100,000 units.



So, what are the specs like on this machine? The Wall Street Journal provides some details:
Technical specifications:

Operating system: Android 2.2

Screen: 7″ resistive

Processor: 366 MHz + HD video co-processor

RAM: 256 MB

Flash memory: 2GB + 2GB Micro-SD (expandable up to 32 GB)

USB ports: 2

Network: WiFi (GPRS & 3G options)

Not too shabby, it seems, although the resistive touch screen might be somewhat bruising to your fingers.

And just how did Datawind manage to get costs down so low to produce such a cheap tablet? PC World quotes CEO Sunjit Singh Tuli:
The configuration of the DataWind tablet is adequate for most applications including HD quality video, reading books, and basic office applications, according to Tuli. The company makes up for the lower speed of the processor by using compression acceleration technologies that shift a part of the processing during Web browsing from the device to the cloud, Tuli said.

DataWind was able to achieve a low price for the device by its vertical integration model which includes designing its boards, integrating some components in-house, developing the middleware, and making the touch panels, he added.
Also, the Indian government is chipping in with a $15 subsidy for every of the first 100,000 units being manufactured. Otherwise, the production cost would be closer to $50.

If you're thinking of getting your hands on this baby, note that the $35 price tag is reserved only for students and teachers in India. For everyone else, the Askash, which will be named the UbiSlate for its commercial release, will retail at about $70. Factoring in shipping costs, that's still quite a bargain, no?

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POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.
TAGS:  INDIA, TABLET, DATAWIND, UBISLATE, AAKASH TABLET    SOURCE:   PC World

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