A new tablet co-produced by Datawind in the UK is set to launch in India, aiming to reduce the digital divide by offering affordable computing and thus getting the device into the hands of some of the world's poorest people. The almost unbelievably cheap Datawind Aakash will be available for just $34 (£22) to students, and $60 (£39) to everyone else, making it the world's cheapest tablet by a healthy margin.
The tablet is about the size of a paperback book and uses a resistive touchscreen, so gestures will not work on it, but at the price it's set for I doubt that will be an issue. Other notable features include a SD card slot fitted with a 2GB card and supporting up to 32GB capacities, two USB ports, Wi-Fi, video conferencing, 3-hour battery life, 600MHz processor, 256MB RAM and it will be running Android 2.2.
Datawind also intends to launch a slightly more expensive "commercial" version named the UbiSlate in December that will include a cellular modem, enabling it to access online content anywhere there is mobile phone reception. It will also enable the tablet to function as a mobile phone.
Kapil Sibai, India's human resource development minister handed out 500 of the tablets to lucky students for testing, and stated that the government plans to distribute over 10 million units to students over the next couple of years.
"Our goal was to break the price barrier for computing and internet access. We've created a product that will finally bring affordable computing and internet access to the masses," Sibai said when recently speaking about the tablets. "This is not only a concept that applies to India, but has ignited the imaginations of governments around the world. The Aakash is proudly made in India, and is destined to revolutionise computing and internet access for the world."
India has committed to 100,000 orders at the slightly increased price of $45 (£29), on the agreement that future orders will be for the lower $34 price.