Friday, July 23, 2010

India announces low cost tablet PC

A low cost tablet PC has been announced in India.

The tablet, which was unveiled by the Union Minister for Human Resource Development, Shri Kapil Sibal, will cost around $35. However, this price is said to gradually drop to $20 and possibly $10 in the future if companies invest in further development in quality and lower cost features.

Companies expected to do this are IIT Rajasthan and technical institutions, and it is hoped that these tablets could eventually be used to give connectivity to all colleges and universities.

Before this can be done the Indian government must find a manufacturer for the Linux based tablet, which offers features including word processing, web browsing and video-conferencing.

There is also a solar power feature and it is supported by a two-watt backup source for places where power supply may be poor. There is also 2-gigabyte memory but no hard disk.

"This is our answer to MIT's $100 computer," Kapil Sibal told the Hindu when he showed off the device yesterday.  

According to the paper the concept device was started by the ministry last year after it had spoken to a range of professors, experts at IISC, and institutions such as IIT Kanpur, IIT Kharagpur, IIT Madras and IIT Bombay.

Students studying B.Tech and M. courses at Indian universities were asked to produce the motherboard for the device but were told to allow for flexibility to change components. One motherboard design was generated under the Ministry's guidance in the B.Tech project of a student at VIT, Vellore. At the time the material costs came to $47. However, this was amended and bought into a cheaper price bracket later on.  

This isn't the first time India's human resource development ministry has got excited by a low cost laptop. Last year it announced a $10 laptop, which caused disappointment when it was found that the "laptop" was merely a handheld device, with an unspecified price tag, that never materialised.