India to launch “World’s Cheapest” Tablet Computer for $35

India to launch “World’s Cheapest” Tablet Computer for $35

India unwraps what has been dubbed the world’s cheapest tablet computer on October 5, 2011, to be sold to students at the subsidized price of $35 to expand digital access in the Asian giant that lags peers such as China and Brazil in connectivity.

The government says the device, called Aakash, which means sky, will initially be available in a pilot run of 100,000 units before being rolled out to millions of students over the next few months.

“Soon, a $35 computer will be made available to every child in school. The tablet shall help enhance the quality of learning of children,” Telecoms and Education Minister Kapil Sibal told reporters last week.

The tablet will be officially launched later on October 5, 2011, by the minister and DataWind, the small British – based company that developed it. The expected price tag is 1,750 rupees.

Two years in development, the Aakash is due to be assembled in India and may help the government’s goal of incorporating information technology in education, although critics were doubtful the device would live up to expectations.

Bharat Mehra, an expert on the use of communications technology for development, said the budget tablet could be used to deliver distance learning in rural areas and among students.

“If they are able to deliver what they promised it will make a huge difference,” said Mehra, who teaches at the University of Tennessee.

Like the Kindle Fire, the Aakash uses the Google Android operating system, but market watchers were skeptical the Indian – made device will have mass appeal.

Full specifications were not available pre – launch, but low – end devices often use resistive LCD displays rather than full touch screens. Media reports said the device will connect via wireless broadband, unavailable in most areas.

“The thing with cheap tablets is most of them turn out to be unusable,” said Rajat Agrawal, executive editor at technology reviewers BGR India. “They don’t have a very good touch screen, and they are usually very slow.”