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World's cheapest tablet 'Aakash' launched

BT Online Bureau     October 5, 2011
The world's cheapest tablet, costing Rs 2,276, was launched on Wednesday and it will be available at around half this price to students as part of the government's programme to expand education through information technology.

The tablet PC, named Aakash, will cost the government Rs 2,276. It will be given to students after subsidising the price by up to 50 per cent, HRD Minister Kapil Sibal said while unveiling the 7-inch touchscreen device.

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"The price includes taxes and cost of transportation. The government will provide subsidy of 50 per cent to institutes buying it. It will cost around Rs 1,100-Rs 1,200 to institutes," he said.

The government has also set an ambitious target of bringing down the cost of such device to as low as $10 (around Rs 500), the minister said.

"As we will scale up manufacturing capacity, the prices will fall. My target is to provide tablet for $10 to our children in coming years," Sibal added.

Low-cost tablets set to hit market

This tablet is for students and the government will start distributing at central and technical institutions. In 12th Five Year Plan, "We will provide these devices to students studying in class 9 onward up to class 12," he said.

An initial order of 1 lakh devices has been placed with device maker Datawind, the minister said. The procurement order will be scaled up later with an aim to bringing down prices further, he added.

"If 10 lakh pieces are ordered, then it will be priced at Rs 1,750 (cost to the government) which will include transportation cost and vendor's profit as well. So, I have fulfilled my promise of $35 tablet," he said.

Sibal said he will ask telecom vendor ITI to manufacture it and will seek support of other industry players to scale up the production and reduce costs.

Aakash is a 7-inch touch screen tablet PC based on Google's Andorid 2.2 operating system with 366 Mhz processor and 256 MB RAM.

It has 2GB Flash internal storage capacity and can support data storage of up to 32 GB through on an external disk. This tablet will have battery back-up of 180 minutes.

Initially, the device will be made available to students pursuing Graduation. Later, it will be distributed among students of class IX and higher classes.

Aakash will carry one-year free replacement warranty from the manufacturer.

Datawind has said that it will integrate 3G and GPRS connectivity in the next shipment to the government without any additional cost.

The company has plans to sell these devices through open market from November at a price of Rs 2,999.

"The upgraded version of the tablet will allow its users to make calls as well and have connectivity within and outside their premises," Datawind CEO Suneet Singh Tuli said.

He said the tablet is built using nearly 800 components and most of it has been imported from various countries.

"On the basis of component cost, 31 per cent has been imported from Korea, 24 per cent from China, 16 per cent from the US, 5 per cent from other part of the world and 16 per cent cost has been incurred in India," Tuli said.

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