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Aakash: Tablet Era Dawns in Indian Sky

20 October 2011 One Comment

Vignesh Nagathan

India seems very keen on bridging the technological divide between urban and rural areas that tends to get wider and wider. As a bid in that direction, it has devised the cheapest tablet device, Aakash.

Aakash, touted as a Rs 2999 (60$) device in Indian market, is the combined effort of  the of Ministry of Human Resource and Development (MHRD) and DataWind, a British firm in alliance with IIT.

Aakash started its project as Sakshat with a $35 subsidized price tag for students.India’s super-cheap tablet was received with open arms by the elite student community of the nation. Though many tech juggernauts had earlier ignored it as another vaporware or failure device (as Simputer), this device, now, appears to be nothing like that. The Aakash Ubislate is an Indian product, assembled in DataWind’sHyderabadfactory.

 

But, after the delightful surprise sprung by the Aakash tablet as being the cheapest tablet in the world, debates have started about its quality, viability and operability. With the tablet already released, ready to be in hands of Indian students (for much lesser price), it would be appropriate now to analyze the possibilities of this budget gadget.

Exterior

The tablet offers very contemporary appearance, if you don’t compare it with any of its high-end counterparts. It has a 7-inch screen, nothing less or more, with 800×480 resolution screens. The hood of Aakash is rugged, giving a rubberized feel. It has a pocketable size and weight that will make it ideal to carry around. The production unit is neatly packed, shrink-wrapped and “properly” factory-made.

Interior

The device has resistive touchscreen that uses the Android 2.2 version to run the hardware which includes a moderately quick 366 MHz processor and 256 MB of memory. It is equipped with 2GB of internal flash memory extendable up to 36 GB via a micro SD slot. It is Wi-Fi enabled (802.11 a/b/g WiFi) and another edition is enabled with GPRS and 3G. Unique for a tablet, it has two full USB sockets.  This feature has great feasibility among Indian community which widely uses USB drives for data transmission and storage.

Working

Supported formats include DOC, DOCX, PPT, PPTX, XLS, XLSX, ODT, ODP (documents)/ PNG, JPG, BMP and GIF (images)/MP3, AAC, AC3, WAV, WMA (audio)/MPEG2, MPEG4, AVI, FLV (video). It also has a DataWind Accelerated web Browser which is xHTML 1.1 and JavaScript 1.8 compliant. A unique application for online YouTube videos also comes with the package.

We are happy that the Indian students are having an opportunity of experiencing this latest technology at hand with ease. But it would be rather one-sided if I don’t mention the challenges it throws up.

It has a resistive touch-screen, which is better used to stylus than bare fingers. What everyone is gonna miss is the linkage to Android Market which is the main USP of any Android gadget. Instead, it has linkage to Get-jar, a comparatively limited service devoted mainly to mobile Apps.

The biggest challenge Aakash has to grapple with is to keep up with the changing technological winds. More currently, it only sports low-end specs vis-a-vis the present market norms. It has many limitations in speed, multi-tasking and apps availability.

Unavailability of Android App market can be attributed to two reasons:

  1. Its low-end specs will, anyway, limit or slow down the functionality and Apps, though you can get the Apps through many other means.
  2. As it is a student-aimed gadget, limited set of Apps can avoid distraction and avoid slow functionality.

It has very low battery back-up, around 3 hours, which is not viable for the student unless he has a charging socket at his desk.  It also warms up very quickly; this may be the main reason for its low battery life. This tablet should be appraised for its shortcomings and fortified as early as possible; otherwise this device will also meet the fate of Simputer, and fade into oblivion.

Although hardware is an essentiality, it doesn’t make it all. Aakash may need a wide range of Apps and content eco system for successful blending with Indian student populace. Cheaper plastics and flimsy screen for harsh student use are sure minuses. A useable HQ e-book reader would have been a more brilliant choice for Indian student community.

Aakash is an iPad in its own budget. It’s essential that this tablet should get a successful start to initiate tablet era inIndia. If Aakash garners appreciable support in market, this could cause the authorities and private competitors to think of more quality tablets with cheaper price tags.

One Comment »

  • Ashish said:

    i m a student of btech in punjab , and i want to know that how i can get this tablet .pls response me if u have any information regarding this tablet. i will be very thankful to you!

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