Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Capacity Focus, 15: Ubislate/Aakash, the Indian, "$35" tablet /Slate PC is here!

The Ubislate/Aakash, ~ US$70
This blog has been tracking the rise of the sub- US$100, Tablet PC as a new platform for student computing. 

With textbook costs heading for US$ 100 each, and with the rise of the ebook, wireless computing, and of the Android open source mobile device operating system, an Educational Tablet PC revolution is predictable, based on a modification of mobile phone technology.

So, it is no surprise to see that the first of these has now been launched [cf prev. here], in India, Ubislate/Aakash, the Indian, "$35" tablet /Slate PC.

The machine uses Android 2.2, has a 366 MHz processor, 256 MB RAM, a 2 GB Flash drive mass storage [comparable to a cell phone] plus 2 GB in an SD slot, expandable to 32 GB. The 7" touchscreen uses resistive technology. There are two USB ports, and for wireless access is uses WiFi (with GPRS & 3G options). It can host a keyboard.

Production costs are about US$50, and the Indian Government has sponsored the first 100,000 for graduate students, giving the subsidised US$ 35 or so price. Ubislate is the projected commercial version, and looks targetted at US$ 70.

According to the linked Wall Street Journal Report:
A clearly overjoyed Kapil Sibal, the human resources development minister, whose ministry oversaw the development of the device, billed it as India’s as a gift to the world’s children – and an anti-poverty tool.

“Today we demonstrate to the world that we will not falter in our resolve to secure our future for our children,” he said. “Let me not limit the achievements of this great enterprise to only our children…this is for all of you who are disempowered.”
In short, the Indian government is open to global, third world partnerships.

A device like this, with appropriate applications -- "apps" these days -- would be useful for calculations, lab or field data input, processing and storage, light duty document processing, browsing and more. It would also serve as a very effective ebook reader. 

No camera is listed, but that is not a top priority, and a USB cam can be added.

With an appropriate front end USB device and the right Apps, it would also work as a digital storage oscilloscope or similar lab/field instrument.

Onward aspirations are to bring the price down to US$ 35 and even US$ 10.

But, even at US$ 70 - 100, we are looking at some very good potential for re-tooling education delivery. END

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