Aakash, the cheapest tablet

Aakash, which literally means “sky”, is the cheapest tablet available in the world. Previously nicknamed “Sakshat”, it is an achievement of the Indian Government. It is a Low cost access device (LCAD) available for 1750 INR for students in India. UbiSlate is its commercial name and the student version is called “Aakash”.  It will bridge the digital divide between the rural India and rest of the country. It costs a fraction of Apple’s ipad and is aimed at the benefit of the students. The Aakash tablet is developed by a UK-based company, Datawind and IIT, Rajasthan. The Indian Government has launched it to enhance learning in India. At the launch, Union Minister of Human Resource and development, Kapil Sibal had given 500 tablets to students who would test them. The Government hopes to distribute 10 million of the tablets to the students in the next few years. Students can directly write notes using the stylus. It will be immensely useful in learning as students can store the notes and review them later. Document formats: PPT, PPTX, DOC, DOCX, XLS, XLSX, ODT, ODP are supported by the Aakash tablet. It can also run PDF viewer and Text editor. The battery, 2100mAh, promises a 3 hour backup (depending on the usage).The small size, 190.5×118.5×15.7mm, and light weight of 350 gm, make it easy to carry around. The device can be used to deliver distance learning for students in rural areas. The Aakash has following specifications:

  • Screen size: 7” resistive touchscreen
  • Operating System – Android 2.2
  • Processor -366 MHz, plus Graphics Accelerator and HD Video Co-processor
  • Memory -256 MB RAM
  • Storage –2GB Micro SD card expandable up to 32GB
  • Connectivity – 2 USB ports
  • Network – Wi-Fi Enabled
  • Web Browser – DataWind Accelerated Browser
  • Modem – Inbuilt cellular and Subscriber Identity Module (SIM)

The Aakash has some drawbacks too. It lacks Bluetooth, a camera, GPS and FM radio. It supports 3.5 mm headphones but has no loudspeaker. Android Market Place is missing though Getjar is installed. But there is an upgraded version in the offing, UbiSlate7. The Aakash has already created ripples with 3 lakh pre-launch bookings and now we will soon have its upgraded version. Aakash-2 will have a 1 GB RAM instead of 256 MB. The team is also working on an inbuilt camera to enable video chatting.

The Aakash was launched on October 5, 2011. However, the commercial launch is expected in January 2012. The delay in the launch is beneficial as there will be some improvements in the tablet. The upgraded version will have faster Cortex A8-700 MHz processor. It will also have an HD video processor and graphics accelerator. It will be priced at 3,000 INR. For an additional 400 INR, you can give it a PC look and get a keyboard. Experts worry that the Aakash might not fulfil the expectations as cheap tablets are terribly slow. Before judging it, we will have to wait for its commercial launch.

Note: The information is collected through secondary research.

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