Tablets

India's $39 Aakash 2 Android tablet launches

Read about the Aakash 2's specifications. The low-cost Android tablet is targeted for students and teachers at engineering colleges in India.

The Aakash 2, an upgraded version of the $35 Aakash tablet, is on its way to being released, based on reports that India's government has approved the device's specifications. The Aakash project has faced repeated delays, and some initial shipments were rejected over conflicting statements related to unacceptable defect rates and non-settlement of payment; as a result, the original Aakash tablet was never made widely available. Since the project was transferred to the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bombay three months ago, there is now software for video lectures, online tests, and an assignment submission system; in addition, students can write software for the Aakash 2 in C, C++, Python, and Scilab.

The Aakash 2 sports a 800MHz processor, a SD card slot, and a capacitive touchscreen instead of the original version's resistive touchscreen. Battery capacity has been upgraded from 2,000mAh to 3,200mAh, which is expected to yield about three hours of usage (the battery life was corroborated by a school director who had early access to an Aakash 2).

The Android 2.2 tablet will be available to students at a subsidized price of 2,263 rupees, or US$39. The goal is to eventually put the tablets in more than 500 engineering colleges in India, with deployment scheduled to start in August 2012.

India's fascination with low-cost products

The concept of innovating on the cost front has well-established roots in Indian businesses, which strive to create products that are affordable to the poor. In a nutshell, "frugal innovation" sees the elimination of sophisticated features in favor of simplicity and cost effectiveness. A GulfNews.com article by former Indian Minister of State and member of India's parliament Shashi Tharoor earlier this week sheds more light on this concept:

"Instead of complicating or refining their products, Indian innovators strip them down to their bare essentials, making them affordable, accessible, durable and effective."

For now, India's Minister for Human Resource & Development Kapil Sibal appears dismissive of the debacle that was the original Aakash. At the launch of the Aakash 2 a few weeks ago, he said:

"It is well known that 'cost innovation' of this kind requires some iterative process."

About

Paul Mah is a writer and blogger who lives in Singapore, where he has worked for a number of years in various capacities within the IT industry. Paul enjoys tinkering with tech gadgets, smartphones, and networking devices.

7 comments
confident3232
confident3232

INDIAN GOVERNMENT THEY DONT HAVE TIME TO SERVE TO PEOPLE THEY ARE FIGHTING EACH OTHER AND THEY THINK HOW THEY CAN EARN MONEY. ALL PART CURRUPTION.

confident3232
confident3232

UK BASED DATAWIND IS BIG FRAUD AND ALREADY THOSAND PEOPLES IN INDIA THEY ARE LOST THEIR MONEY BECAUSE OF THIS FRAUD. TOO MUCH PEOPLE THEY PAID CASH IN ADVANCE TO THIS FRAUD FOR TABLET,BUT MOSTLY PEOPLE THEY CANNOT CONTACT ALL CONNECTIONS THEY DISCONNECTED THIS FRAUD THEY GOT A LOT OF ORDERS BY ONLINE AND THEY OFFERED THAT IF YOU PAY IN ADVANCE WE WILL DELIVERY YOUR DEVICES WITH IN ONE MONTH ALSO WITHOUT ANY POSTAGE CHARGE. 18001802180 THIS IS THEIR ALL INDIA NUMBER NOBODYWILL ANSWER

Tabletpcphones
Tabletpcphones

39$ is much low price for android tablet launches.

eCubeH
eCubeH

I purchased an Akash tablet in May, along with a separate keypad. Seemed like a good deal for some 3000 + 500 INR (60+10USD). Assuming it worked, right? I got it soon enough, over eBay and opened it with some excitement. It was an utterly shoddy piece of work, looked like some primary graders had been given some parts produced in a rural casting facility, and put it together! I pressed the power button - it started overheating immediately, no way I could hold it for more than a few moments. There were no apps on it, despite all the hyped announcements. The single sheet that served as manual stated something about charging it fully before using, so I went to charge it. Just would not charge - the charger was ok, its a generic thing and I got it tested. No real instructions of any kind, no user manual or contingency resolver. Then the real nightmare started. I had purchased over eBay. Neither the vendor nor eBay would take any responsibility for it despite having taken my money - both simply said it was under warranty and that I should contact the manufacturer. I should have known something was fishy when before getting the device itself, the vendor sent a mail saying something to the effect that these devices sucked and they should not be held accountable! So I called the manufacturer 800 number. And called and called and called and called. For a week. Either it was continuously busy, or no one picked up! I passed the duty on to a friend who set up an automated repeat calling thing, and he finally connected. After some 2 or 3 conversations over the following month, they finally agreed to pick up the damn thing. After another 2 weeks the pickup happened. After another 2-3 weeks of repeated calling from our side, finally they said they would call us back. Then suddenly one day someone calls - to ask - what the problem was with the device. On being informed that the damn thing does not charge or boot, another few weeks of silence. That's where it stands now. And this thing is intended for rural students? People who have never seen a computing device before? Kids who may form their first impressions based on these devices? Good God! I am certain that eventually things will clear up! But what unnecessary pain people are put to for these egomaniacs who can't wait to announce the next latest and greatest thing, without having the slightest execution capacity. Shame on them!

psikeyhackr
psikeyhackr

In 2005 an Archos PMA400 cost $800. It had a 150 MHz OMAP processor with 64 Megabytes of RAM. The Indian tablet has 5 times the speed and 4 times as much RAM. It has 2 gig of storage and the Archos has a 30 gig drive, but the Indian tablet is less than $50 seven years later. It also has double the screen resolution which means four times as many pixels. Yeah, the Nexus 7 has even more power and resolution but does that really affect what the user can learn if they use it as an educational tool? It is now a matter of what the user does with technology not how good it is relative to the competition. The media was not saying the Archos as a piece of junk seven years ago. You can't plug USB sticks with gigabytes of information into the Nexus.

psikeyhackr
psikeyhackr

Was that the Aakash 1 that came out last year at 366 MHz? Yes it has been reported to be junk. The Aakash 2 is 800 MHz and came out since May. It probably is not available in the US yet. People push whatever junk they can get their hands on, on eBay.

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

Is subsidizing the device has no effect on the listed Student Price? [i]The Android 2.2 tablet will be available to students at a subsidized price of 2,263 rupees, or US$39.[/i] Quite often you can get a smart phone for nothing up front on a Contract from your Telco and here the Indian Government is effectively doing a similar thing for students. There is no where in the article any mention of NonStudent Prices. ;) Col