For the past year Indian officials have been promising to launch a $35 Android tablet aimed at students. Today it’s finally available — and while the tablet is a little more expensive than promised, it’s still dirt cheap for a mobile computing device.
The tablet will come in two versions. The DataWind Ubislate be available at retail stores for 2999 Rs, or about $60, and it will feature a cellular modem and SIM card slot. Meanwhile the Indian government acquired about 100,000 units of a cheaper version which will be called the Aakash Tablet for 2250 Rs or about $45. Those tablets will be distributed to students for free as part of a pilot program. That version will be WiFi-only.
The tablet is a pretty barebones device, with a 7 inch, 800 x 480 pixel resistive touchscreen display, 256MB of RAM and 2GB of flash storage. It runs Google Android 2.2 Froyo and has a 366 MHz processor plus an HD video co-processor. The tablet also has a microSD card slot for expansion and 2 USB ports.
The tablet also has a headphone jack and a battery that’s good for about 2 to 3 hours of run time. The device does not include the official Google Android Market, but users should be able to install apps using third party app stores.
DataWind and Indian official still hope to bring down the production costs so that the tablet can eventually be sold for $35 or even less.
Honestly, the Aakash Tablet looks a lot like many other budget Android tablets we’ve seen from Chinese companies over the last year or two. The slow processor, low resolution display, resistive touch panel and other compromises made to keep costs down mean that this tablet is not in the same class as higher-priced products from Acer, Asus, Dell, Lenovo, or Samsung.
But it’s rightfully being called the cheapest Android tablet in the world and that could go a long way toward improving internet access for many Indians who may not be able to afford more expensive devices.