Made in India, world’s cheapest tablet Aakash launched

The world’s cheapest tablet PC, priced at around Rs 1,200, will now be available to students in the country 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 today while unveiling the device here.

“The tablet is for Rs 2,276 which 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 to Rs 1,200 to institutes,” Sibal said.

An initially order of 1 lakh devices has been placed with device maker Datawind, Sibal 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 USD 35 tablet,” Sibal 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.

Datawind will launch this device in November for general public at a cost of Rs 2,999 per piece, Suneet Singh Tuli, CEO of the company, said.

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

About 500 pieces were given to students at the function today for evaluation and subsequent upgrade, if necessary.

Students will be able to access thousands of content available on the ‘Sakshat’ portal and other educational websites.

An HRD ministry official said an option of giving the device for a particular period is being explored.

Last year in July Sibal had unveiled a prototype of the device and announced developing it at cost of around USD 35.

To ensure complete transparency and a level playing-field, the National Mission on Education through Information and Communication Technology (NME-ICT) decided to task IIT (Jodhpur) with the job of procuring and testing these devices based on the design and specifications that the Mission?s team had finalised.

IIT Jodhpur had floated tender and the lowest bidder quoted an ex-factory price of USD 37.98 which was close to the cost mentioned by Sibal.

This cost comprised cost of components and material as well as manufacturing expenses. The final landed price of USD 49.98 (Rs 2,276) per unit included taxes, levies, and charges like freight and insurance, servicing and documentation etc.

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

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