India Launches £22 Budget Tablet To Bridge Digital Divide

Aakash Budget TabletA new basic Android tablet has been launched in India for just £30. Co-produced by UK company Datawind, and assembled in Hyderabad, India – the Aakash tablet was designed for the Indian government and is made to give internet access to some of the world’s poorest people – reducing the digital divide.

The Aakash will be available to students for £22, and £39 to everyone else – which makes it the cheapest tablet on the market by a notable margin. It may not have all the latest bells and whistles, but what it offers for the price is impressive: 7″ screen, 2GB Memory (with SD slot for up to 32GB expansion), 2 USB prts, WiFi, GPRS, video conferencing, 3 hour battery life, a 600MHz CPU (about the same as the iPhone 3GS), 256MB RAM, and all running Android 2.2. It’s main issue is the use of a resistive touchscreen rather than the capacitive touchscreens in most modern devices – so users will need to use a stylus – but it is impressive nonetheless. And all in a form about the size of a paperback book.

The $100 OLPC laptop program was an impressive idea, but this device will truly get the internet into the hands of many more of the worlds poor – hopefully lifting them to digital engagement where they can compete in the world market and earn a better living. India has already ordered 100,000 of these devices at the £39 price point, with the agreement that future orders will be at the £22 price. And they plan to order 10 million units over the next couple of years.

Datawind will also be launching a slightly better specced 7″ tablet for the UK market with the UbiSurferTouch – which will cost just £99 and include 30 hours per month of free 3G internet access from Vodafone for 12 months alongside HD video playback capabilities. It appears the price for Android tablets is in freefall.

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