Aakash-II set for 2012 release

Remember the Aakash, the “world’s cheapest tablet”? It’s inching ever closer to a worldwide release date thanks to new developers C-DAC and ITI jumping in to take over where Datawind Ltd, previous manufacturers of the Aakash, failed. An improved version of the Aakash, or the UbiSlate is set to release at a cost of US$50, slightly steeper than the previous US$35 model.

Indian Telecom and HRD Minister Kapil Sibal is proud to present a “truly Indian product” and says, “There have been some problems with Datawind I must confess. Therefore, I have got into the act. IT Ministry has got C-DAC and ITI into the act and I am going to ensure that this product is fully indigenous.”

The launch date is precariously set for 2012 says Sibal. “Well, 2012 should see the sun… Aakash-II should be launched. There have been some hiccups in the way. Remember when you do a project of this nature and when your dream is as big as this, things are never that smooth.”

Sibal’s ultimate objective? To deliver a “quality product to the children”. The specifications are telling for a budget device. A 700Mhz CPU, a GPU promising HD graphics, 256MB RAM, 2GB internal memory with the option of expanding to 32GB, Wi-Fi, GPRS and of course, Android 2.1 to tie it all together. Complaints levelled at the newer Aakash include “brief” battery life and dim screens.

Remember, it’s a tablet for the children. Think of the children damn it! “So if the whole world wants to produce, I don’t care who produces, if ultimately it is produced by somebody for children,” says Sibal.

Last year, Google predicted that the overall number of India’s internet users may triple in the next three years, this is if smartphones become more affordable and wireless internet becomes easier to access. According to the official website, the soonest a user will get their sticky hands on an Aakash is sometime in April.

Steven Norris: grumpy curmudgeon


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