When the world is looking at the $100 laptop from (OLPC) one laptop per child, India has launched its own version called the Aakash Tablet which probably is dubbed as the cheapest tablet PC available in the World (approx $35). Initially about 1 lakh unites will be given free under the Government scheme for field trail but the retail cost will be around Rs. 2,250 to Rs. 2,999.

Update: Aakash tablet now available for Rs. 2,500.

According to Kapil Sibal, Minister of Communications and IT this tablet is targeted at the poor students in India. There are the rich who have access to the latest technology but the price tag keeps the poor away. With the launch of Aakash this technology gap between the poor and the rich will end.

Now before you feel proud that Aakash Tablet is a made in India product let me enlighten you that the a British company called DataWind is manufacturing this product which is assembled in India.

But will the Aakash tablet really turn out to be workable device or will it just be a low cost useless device with the taxpayer’s money going down the drain. Let’s find it out.

Aakash tablet features

This 7 inch resistive touch screen tablet houses a 366 MHz processor plus a HD video co-processor. The RAM is 256MB and Flash Memory (Storage Memory) is 2GB with microSD card option up to 32 GB.

Aakash tablet price in India
Aakash tablet price in India

The Aakash tablet runs on the Froyo OS (Android 2.2) and features 2 USB ports, Wi-Fi and also supports optional 3G modems. The battery life is around 3 hours.

The Aakash tablet comes with DataWind’s UbiSurfer browser that accelerates webpage loading by up to 30x, perfect for slow speed internet connection.

The 7 inch display supports resolution of 800 x 480 pixels. Multiple document formats are supported which includes DOC, PPT, XLS etc. On this tablet you can play games, run educational softwares and Office suite.  However this tablet does not provide access to Android market place.

Aakash tablet Price in India

About 100,000 units will be distributed for free.
After that the tablet will be available for Rs. 1,750 at subsidised price only for students.
For general audience this tablet will come for a price of around Rs. 2,999.

Aakash Tablet review

Those who have used a tablet before will never be impressed with the Aakash device. First thing is the resistive touch screen which is an inferior technology as compared with the capacitive screen that you find on most devices. But for the poor students in India or someone who is trying this tablet for the first time, they will find it impressive.

Processor at 366 MHz is just too slow and battery life is pathetic with just 3 hours. This means that most of the time the Aakash users will keep their devices connected to the power source. Processor and battery both are disappointing this can be compared with the Government babus who also work the same way, slow speed and less work each day.

You can use the Wi-Fi feature to connect to a Wi-Fi hotspot for sharing internet connection or you can use the USB port for connecting external USB modem with GPRS connection. You can also connect a 3G dongle for high speed internet (some are supported). Furthermore you can use this tablet like a phone for receiving voice calls or making one by using the USB port.

One can easily connect a pen-drive and use the storage apart from using the microSD slot. The USB port can also be used for connecting a keyboard as it will be difficult entering data using the touch screen keyboard.

But by connecting external devices like keyboard, USB modem, USB Dongle etc. you are not only investing extra money on those devices but are also converting this tablet into a laptop which aren’t meant to be.

Accessories such as Keyboard case and car charges will also be available. The keyboard offered by DataWind will come in a leather case and will carry a price. Nothing is free!

In general the Aakash tablet is a basic device with low speed processor and a short battery life. Using the USB ports this tablet can be made more efficient by connecting external devices but at a cost.

Will I buy this product?

Am not sure not convinced either, but if the Aakash Tablet can play “Angry Bird” I will re-consider.

By Rajeev Rana

Founder and Chief Editor - gogi.in