News / Asia

India Launches 'World's Cheapest' Tablet

A DataWind representative displays the supercheap 'Aakash' Tablet computers during its launch in New Delhi, India. The $35 basic touchscreen tablet aimed at students can be used for functions like word processing, web browsing and video conferencing. 'Aa
A DataWind representative displays the supercheap 'Aakash' Tablet computers during its launch in New Delhi, India. The $35 basic touchscreen tablet aimed at students can be used for functions like word processing, web browsing and video conferencing. 'Aa

India hopes that the launch of what is being called "the world’s cheapest tablet computer" will help tens of thousands of low-income students connect to the digital world.

The $45 device with a seven-inch color touchscreen, Wi-Fi connectivity, and two USB ports is meant to bridge the digital divide in a country where only three percent of the population has computers.

The world’s cheapest computer is called “Aakash,” the Hindi word for sky. It was the brainchild of the Indian government, which put out an offer for it to be developed. While made by a British-based company, the tablets are being assembled in India.   

Pilot project

Under a pilot project, the government distributed 500 free computers to students this week. They will travel to villages to demonstrate the device, which will be sold to students for a subsidized price of $35.

Rajat Agarwal, executive editor of gadget reviewers BGR India, says the low-cost tablet computer has the potential to bring education to vast numbers of people.

“I see this as an exercise wherein the government actually puts all the textbooks, all the course material in an e-book format which is accessible across devises. This would also ensure that there does not have to be a library in every village, every town of the country. You can get whatever books you want, everywhere,” said Agarwal.    

Competition encouraged

Indian officials have called the development of the world’s cheapest computer “the beginning of a journey.” They have called for competition to drive prices down even further.

Technology experts however caution that the government must monitor the performance of the device closely.

Agarwal says the tablet is a “very good start” in making affordable computers. But he says it must be user-friendly, otherwise customers may turn away from it. “You can't expect an iPad kind of hardware out there or usability. For $35 it is pretty decent hardware, but in terms of usability what we found was the screen was not very touch sensitive," he noted. "You have to poke it really hard to make it work, the processor was slightly slow. But what else would you expect for a tablet at that price?

Experts also warn that the limited Internet connectivity in the country will hamper the objective of spreading digital learning.

India is a technology leader and Indian I.T. experts are renowned for their skills. But despite a 15-fold rise in the number of Internet users over the last decade, access to the Web is limited to a fraction of the Indian population, and is the lowest among emerging markets.

You May Like

Bleak China Economic Outlook Rattles Markets

Several key European stock indexes were down up to three percent, while US market indexes were off around 2.5 percent in afternoon trading More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs