Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Aakash Tablet
This isn’t “news” as such. The HRD Ministry, with Kapil Sibal leading it, has been making claims of cheap and low-cost computing for quite some time now. It’s about time we actually got such a device. The recently announced Aakash Tablet seems to be stirring up a little bit of confusion with regard to cost, specs and name. The actual Press Release from Data Wind, the company manufacturing the Tablet, is pretty clear. Basically, there are two versions being released. The Aakash Tablet is being made available to the HRD Ministry for fulfilling the goals of the National Mission on Education through Information and Communication Technology (NME-ICT). It will be sold at a cost of Rs. 1,750/- to the aforementioned department of the Government, which may be further subsidized when handed out to educational institutions. The first lot would be 100,000 units to be delivered soon.
The Ubislate7 would be commercially released by Data Wind (why would they give up such an opportunity?!) in November 2011, for an MRP of Rs. 2,999/- after adding in a GSM/GPRS radio for cellular connectivity (Yes, the educational version does not have cellular connectivity). Sounds pretty amazing, doesn’t it? Well, we’ve got the full specifications of the Tablet, another promotional banner from one of Data Wind’s websites and our own pre-release thoughts waiting for you past that “Read more” link. Go ahead and read more. You know you want to.

Our thoughts
  • Unbelievable claims – HD Quality Video Playback on such low-low specifications is something that’s not believable. Our tech guts tell us that either they’re playing around with the term “HD”, or they’re trying to say that the playback quality is so good that you’ll think it’s HD. Either way, it can’t be HD. We know Android well – phones with half the specs, half the resolution and twice the cost can’t handle HD quality playback. If we see it, we’ll believe it – just don’t get your hopes up by the marketing.
  • Laughably low specifications – This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. We understand that this Tablet is meant for one purpose and one purpose only – to bring computing to the “masses” in India. For that, this might work excellently. But for you, dear reader of The Indian Geek, it just won’t. You’d be better off buying a costlier Android phone with much better specs. Trust us, you’ll like the experience better.
  • No Google stuff – Android has taken the world by storm because of Google’s suite of Apps that are provided with the OS on most Android devices – Gmail, Google Talk, Google Maps, Android Market and so on. With authorised access to any of these, the beauty of Android simply withers away.
  • Parent company lacks spit and polish – Canada-based Data Wind have currently registered twenty five websites just for the Aakash tablet. We’re not joking – check the bottom of the Ubislate website. We’ll leave you to peruse a few -,,,,, This is very confusing, and some of the pages on these websites (or the websites themselves) lack clear branding. If the Indian Government hadn’t struck a deal with them, we’d never suggest any of you to go near this manufacturer with a ten-foot pole even. See, we’re not saying that their Tablet would be bad because of their sloppy websites’ maintenance; we’re just saying that if a company that’s “multinational” can’t find the time/money (it’s really cheap and easy – ask these guys) to put together a cohesive branded website for their launch into a market with potential as much as India, then we don’t expect them to put much time/effort into anything. That includes their design, manufacturing, sales, service and support. (Did we mention that their car charger accessory for the Aakash Tablet displays a “pin” connector, instead of the USB connector required to charge the Tablet?)
  • Future options – When launching the Aakash and Ubislate 7 tablets, Data Wind projected a rosy future filled with equivalent phones, better specc-ed devices (with capacitive touchscreens and dual-core processors) and larger screens (upto 10 inches). We’d say that you wait it out and see how Data Wind fares with respect to sales, service and support and then go in for something better.
  • Processor: 366 Mhz Connexant with Graphics accelerator; co-GPU for HD video
  • RAM / ROM: 256 MB / 2 GB
  • Display: 7” WVGA (800 x 480), resistive touchscreen
  • Operating System: Android 2.2 (Froyo)
  • Supported formats: Documents (DOC, DOCX, XLS, XLSX, PPT, PPTX, ODT, ODP), Media (PNG, JPG, BMP, GIF, MP3, AAC, AC3, WAV, WMA, MPEG2, MPEG4, AVI, FLV)
  • Built-in software: PDF Viewer, Text editor, Image viewer, Audio/Video player, App for YouTube, Nimbuzz
  • Connectivity: GSM (only on Ubislate7), GPRS, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g
  • Ports: 2 USB ports (atleast 1 full-sized for accessories), 3.5 mm audio jack
  • Memory card: microSDHC slot (2 GB in-box; expandable to 32 GB)
  • Rated Battery backup: 3 hours
So what are your thoughts on these two devices? Let us know in comments below.
Source: Data Wind (via Android Advices)
More info: Ubislate, AakashTablet


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