Update: We have now confirmed that the Aakash is made by Datawind at a manufacturing facility in Hyderabad. It does however have some parts from China – which is perfectly acceptable!
Keeping the article as is, for posterity’s sake:
As it turns out, the Government of India’s $35 tablet has been launched. Like we told you earlier, the device is called Aakash and to our surprise, it would be available to purchase for the general public – albeit at a higher price tag than what it would be launched for students.
The Aakash will be made by the Canadian company Datawind for the Indian government. Well, now if you thought this was a “specially made for India” device, as it turns out, it is not. In fact, it is nothing but a rebadged version of the Datawind UBISlate tablet according to IBN. In fact, if we are to believe data from Datawind’s website, the UBIslate is actually made in… well you guessed it right.. China!
Now, we would be more than happy if the Government and Datawaind have invested in setting up a facility to produce these tablets in India – but unless someone from Datawind or the Government confirms this to us, that is not the case. Also, that would have resulted in increased price for the device. For the same reason, the Chinese connection does make sense. But then, I don’t know how many of us can happily claim that we in India make the cheapest tablet on the planet – when it actually comes from China. Also, if that really is the case, the government can only be praised for one thing – for subsidizing the tablet.
Anyway, let us get in to the details. The Indian Government intends to source the device for Rs. 2250 per unit for the first 100,000 units. When production ramps up to 10 million units, the same would be bought for Rs.1750 per unit.
The commercial version if Aakash will debut next month and would be priced at Rs.2999. The commercial version would have an additional feature – that of supporting a SIM card which will allow users to connect to the Internet whilst on the move. The “students only” version would be limited to Wi-Fi connectivity.
If you are wondering about the specs on this one, well, this is what the insides of the $35 tablet contain:
To start with, the processor is made by Conexant and runs at a leisurely 366 MHz. It does have a graphics accelerator though. It has 256 MB of RAM and supports 2 GB memory, and you can thankfully use microSD cards to increase the same up to 32 GB. It packs in an USB port, as well. The display on the unit is a 7 inch resistive one with a resolution of 800*480.
The device as of now runs Android 2.2 and as of now it is unclear whether it can be updated to a newer version of the OS. The good thing is that it does support apps from an App Store of its own sourced from GetJar. The device is quite capable and has decent multimedia abilities and even gets a 3.5 mm jack.
Anyway, it would be very interesting to see the consumer response to this tablet. Mind you, a tablet for under Rs.3000 is still a great steal!