India Develops World’s Cheapest Tablet

In another attempt to bring a usable computer to the masses at an extremely affordable price point, India has developed a touchscreen computing device which will cost only $35. According to a press release by India’s Press Information Bureau, the price is expected to drop even further, first to $20 and ultimately to a mere $10.

The reports about the device’s hardware vary greatly; all we can say for sure is that it’s portable and has a touchscreen, which pretty much makes it a tablet (confirmed by the image on the right).

According to Indian Express, it has a 5/7/9-inch touchscreen (we don’t know whether that means there will be several versions of the device or they’re simply unsure what the actual size is, but it looks like a 7-incher to us), and, on the software side, it sports a web browser, PDF reader, office software, media player, multimedia input/output capabilities, video conferencing (it must have a camera, then) and remote device management capability — all of it open-source and Linux-based.

Whatever hardware is running this thing, it’s ready for production, according to India’s Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal. “We have reached a (developmental) stage that today; the motherboard, its chip, the processing, connectivity, all of them cumulatively cost around $35, including memory, display, everything,” he said at a news conference in New Delhi.

The device, Sibal said, should be available to consumers sometime in 2011.

[UPDATE] :

While the Indian media is huffing up the desi-pride angle with talks of “Indian-iPad”. there’s very little for a complete tablet experience. And there’s nothing desi about it; the tablet is made by Canadian firm Datawind Ltd.

The7-inch touchscreen tablet features an inbuilt keyboard, video conferencing facility, multimedia content, Wi-Fi, USB port, 32GB hard drive and a 2GB RAM. There’s support for Open Office, SciLab and Internet browsing.

However, this means nothing for the aam-aadmi it was intended for, but there is a desi crop of real tablets worth checking out.

10,000 Sakshat tablets will be shipped to IIT Rajasthan by June-end, following by the launch of over 90,000 tablet units in the next 4 months.

Sakshat: Other Specifications

  • QWERTY keyboard, Mouse and a minimum Display of 7” colour LCD/TFT (Touchscreen optional)
  • 2 USB 2.0 ports and USB hosts
  • Three hours
  • Batteryless device
  • SD card slot (8GB expandable memory)
  • Support to connect LCD projector
  • Support for external hard disk drive (Minimum 32 GB)
  • Ethernet port
  • WLAN
  • 80% shock resistant

While the tablets will be priced at Rs 2,200, there are reports of plans for later subsidies of 50%. Under the National Mission on Education through Information and Communication Technology (NMEICT), connectivity is projected to be offered to 504 universities and 25,000 colleges throughout India  n the Asian subcontinent in an e-learning initiative.

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