back to article The $35 android tablet, a snip at $50

The Indian government has unveiled its $35 android tablet, and admitted that with shipping, boxes and manuals it will ultimately cost $50, but government subsidies will make up the difference. The Aakash is designed and built by UK firm Datawind, known for their cheapo web-browsing kit. It features a resistive screen, a 366MHz …

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Anonymous Coward

Problem is..

The ipad cretins think this is what all Android tablets are like, they are blind to the fact there are REAL competitors like the Asus Transformer...

Android has insane scalability from the cheapest and most cheerful to the luxury devices, something they can't (or won't) get their head around.

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Yes, it has 'insane' scalability. That's one of its problems from a developer's point of view. I'm saying this as someone who tried to port an app to Android, to the sheer diversity of form factors, screen sizes and variations in function.

I accept that limitation, though, because I have the same limitation writing for the web, across multiple browsers, screen sizes and so on. It's really not *that* far different, when you step back and see the bigger picture.

The one issue I have with Android, though, is the way it's hard to upgrade. Too many devices are being packaged with older versions of Android - this one has 2.2 on it, when there's been multiple releases since (both minor up to 2.3, and patches even to that), and it's going to be tricky for a typical user to upgrade to a current release without having to get software to upgrade it.

While 2.2 may be 'acceptable', has it been patched to withstand the vulnerabilities found after its release? How easy is it for users to do that themselves? (I don't mean technical users who know about rooting, I'm talking about the sorts of users who will actually *use* this device.)

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That's still part of the gamut of manufacturers

Considering that updating is the job of a device maker, the variation in behaviour is akeen to the OP's point about working on all levels from cheap and cheerful (aka fire-and-forget manufacturers that never bother to update anything) to the extremely sleek and powerful.

For the record, my ASUS Transformer has had 4 OTA updates in the last 4 months or so. And in each case it was:

1) Reminder that there is an update available

2) Prompt about going ahead with the update (if you want to be pedantic, it also checks that battery levels are 50%+)

3) Pressing OK

How hard is that?

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HMB
Alert

High End Android Still Disapointing

"The ipad cretins think this is what all Android tablets are like, they are blind to the fact there are REAL competitors like the Asus Transformer..."

Bull.

I have a Nexus One and a Touchpad, so I'm no iFan, but after years of development, even Honeycomb doesn't animate scrolls without nasty juddering. Having played with iPads and iPhone's they're as smooth as a new silk tie draped over a baby's bottom at a Jazz festival.

Nice.

Android is the user interface runt of the smartphone OS litter, but let's hope Google correct that in Ice Cream Sandwhich. I'm looking forward to it.

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Gold badge

Scalability? I think you're referring to the scalability of quality here. Have you not noticed iOS runs on quite a variety of Apple kit too?

It's not impossible to run Linux on late 1980s hardware, but would you really want to?

I've recently bought a £50 tablet for use as a control panel, I expect it to be a really awful piece of junk, but with such a limited job of being an interface where I prod buttons I think it will work okay. It will be mains powered (so long as the cheap PSU doesn't melt).

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@HMB

A touchpad?

Not the HP touchpad surely?

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Anonymous Coward

While I'm not part of the Asus Transformer fan club....

Aren't Android versions tied to minimum hardware spec lists?

i.e. I thought 2.2 added the requirement for a camera as a minimum feature. If your hardware doesn't have a camera it is limited to Android version X.

I don't consider myself particularly knowledgeable on Android, so I may have misunderstood.

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Joke

@HMB

Watch yourself there, matey. With analogies like that you'll find yourself in trouble.

Will nobody think of the metaphorical children?

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I don't think there are strict minimum requirements for Android versions, but Google does have very strict requirements to be allowed access to the Market.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Problem is..

I don't understand the relevance of your post. Why should any consumer care about scalability? Are they able to upgrade the CPU and RAM in their tablet? All most consumers want is a device that works when they buy it. I'd imagine it will be of little comfort to someone who buys a tablet with a sluggish 366Mhz CPU to know that the operating system can scale to 1.4Ghz dual-core CPUs if they'd spent hundreds more on an Asus.

Or were you just looking for an excuse to say something negative about Apple regardless of whether it made any sense?

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Anonymous Coward

Then it's you

I'm guessing you are looking at the wrong Honeycomb tablets.

My Asus Transformer is as smooth as silk (aside from a small bit of lag after coming from instant resume) with Honeycomb 3.2.1 (the ted rogers release).

ICS 4.0 coming soon no doubt.

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FAIL

"Android is the user interface runt of the smartphone OS litter"

And that's why Apple copied it verbatim for Notification Centre, Folders and Voice search..

All the new iOS5 stuff is ripped from Android.....

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Unhappy

You forgot the Microsoft Tax

I'm sure that will come in at $50/unit...

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Mushroom

Would they dare?

Wouldn't M$ chasing Datawind in such a manner, look bad in the eyes of the India government, the market of which, M$ is also chasing? Same for any other big company with surplus lawyers.

If these are destined for children in India, the bad PR just wouldn't be worth the bother, considering they will never have a competitively priced product to replace it.

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Anonymous Coward

Not just Android license fees - AAC (that's expensive) and H264 just for the HD playback, although H264 may be covered in to SoC cost.

I'm also a bit dubious of the $37 manufacturing cost - going to need to sell a lot to get down to that price, but I guess they think they can.

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WTF?

matter for the Indian government

"... they'll probably have to start paying Oracle/Apple/Samsung et al their patent fees for Android, at which point $35 rapidly becomes unobtainable ..."

So who is forcing US style patents and fees on equipment designed in the UK and made and sold in India ? This assumption makes no sense. The Indian government alone can legislate the scope for patents effective within its own jurisdiction.

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FAIL

If you'd thought about your comment for just two seconds before posting you would have realised how daft it is. Have you never heard of the World Trade Organisation. Do you think India (or any country) can just make up its own trade rules and ignore patents and continue to trade internationally? I think not. How long do you think India's huge IT sector would survive if it followed your prescription?

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Silver badge

Legally, perhaps...

but if India (or any other country) start deciding that Merkin patent and copyright laws don't apply to them, then it's not just Pakistan and Yemen that will be getting visits from heavily armed Predator drones!

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FAIL

FAIL

Sorry, Serendipity, you obviously know nothing of India, or its history of IP protection. Patents are not international and nothing in the WTO makes them so. All you have to do (to join the WTO) is have an IP protection system such that foreign companies are treated the same as local ones (i.e, you can't selectively discriminate), but other than that, you can write your own patent laws.

India did just this with pharma-patents (making them effectively impossible to obtain while its generic industry got going) and the only reason they have changed this now is to protect the new drugs which Indian firms now invent (and wish to protect within India). There was no quibble at the WTO because non-one was treated differently - foreign companies couldn't patent and neither could Indian countries.

Furthermore, for patents to be valid, they have to be filed in a country before they are public knowledge - effectively meaning that if you haven't filed in India within a couple or three years after filing in the US (or wherever) you cannot gain patent protection retrospectively in India. Exactly what patents cover Android etc. in the rest of the world seems to be pretty ropey just now, but if they weren't filed in India, then they don't have any jurisdiction in India.

Take your $35 fondle-slab and try to sell it in the US and you may arouse Google's ire, but chances are in India, they haven't got a leg to stand on.

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FAIL

WTO is a long winded ass

Which rarely decides anything much, because too many countries represented on it have too much to lose. A reason for the vibrant and growing Indian IT sector is that software patents don't apply there. A trivial amount of research would have educated you on this fact:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Software_patent#Other_countries .

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@serendipity

You misunderstand how the WTO has changed international IP laws, read for example http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TRIPS

What you'll see is that the WTO has required all countries to create a patent system and enforce it, but that's not the same thing as making US patents suddenly applicable in every nation. If Apple, Oracle or Google patents a new invention - then they have 1 year to patent it in all other jurisdictions. After that year they can no longer get the patent in any other market, and they only have patent protection in the markets in which they've filed.

So if MS hasn't filed the key patents in India, then they cannot use them to sue an Indian company making products that are for the Indian market.

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Pirate

@serendipity

Of course any country can do this. The Good old US of A does it all the time. And if you don't like it they will cause your government to be overthrown and replaced with an american friendly one. Just look at Chile, Iran etc

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Gold badge
Joke

If China is the new India who will be the new China?

Mongolia?

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Coat

So, tell me...

... is this "the iPad Killer" we've been awaiting for so very long?

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Bronze badge
Happy

Goodness Gracious Me

Indian!!!

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Coat

Jam-es

Put the tablet on the table with none of that crap you usually do, what do they call it...ah yes peas and carrots. but bring 8, no 16 bread rollllls

(those who watched gooness gracious me will get that one)

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Thumb Up

Great name

Named after my local curry house!

I expect the UK govt-subsidised tablet "The Nags Head" to be available soon.

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Thumb Up

I don't expect it, I demand it! Oi! Cameron! Jump to it!

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Happy

Can I have it sitting on the coffee table.....

..ready to look up an actor on IMDB in good order for under £100?

If so then it will do for me and do for most people.

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Anonymous Coward

ViewQuest Slate 2

"It features a resistive screen, a 366MHz processor"

I know it's not going to be used for anything 'intensive' but WTF?

I have a cheapo 720mhz android tablet (Viewquest Slate2) - and it's completely useless.

Not just not very good, but actually completely useless. Wish I had taken it back to the shop rather than thinking I'll get around to rooting it one day.

Those poor Indian buggers - it's going to be really really slooooooooooooow.

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Anonymous Coward

I'm sure you can do something useful with 366 MHz

With appropriate software.

It's not that long ago that you couldn't get a processor that fast, even for a desktop machine.

I've done a bit of research for you: it was about 1995, apparently. I was using computers back then. They weren't completely useless.

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Alert

1995?

Nah, it has to be more like mid 1997. My friend and I got a massively stonkin' machine to do music production on, some time in the fall of 1997; as I recall, it was a Pentium II 266, 128mb, 2x9gb 10k rpm SCSI drives, and a 21" monitor. It was, shall we say, not inexpensive. And it could do an awful lot of cool stuff, amazingly.

And it was probably 100 to 500x the practical power of the workstations car companies were using when they were in the early phases of using CAD fifteen years prior.

In 1995, I was personally rockin' an 80mhz clock-doubled Cyrix, and among my demoscener / gamer buddies it was pretty average or even a bit above.

366mhz machines aren't so long in the past. People follow every day and forget how insanely rapid the pace of development is. A few years ago I bought a kick-ass dev machine for work, with an insane 2gb of memory. Normal computers had 512mb; the big box stuff maybe 256 even. A year later the $600 shitboxes at best buy and walmart all had 3gb.

It's nuts.

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Silver badge
Thumb Up

Yeah, its the software not the hardware.

The increase in power has just allowed more and more sloppy programming.

In 1995 I was still getting by fine with a 33Mhz 486 with 8MB of ram.

In 1997 I had a Intel 150Mhz Pentium with 32MB of ram which surfed and played Quake just fine. Cost me £1300 and was to be the last actual PC I bought. The rest I built.

It wasnt till 1999 that I got a AMD 400Mhz K6-III and was running Quake 2 and Unreal like a champ.

So in 4 years I went from 33Mhz to 400Mhz. It all worked very well for the time.

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Anonymous Coward

in 1999

A project I worked on spent £4800 (!) buying a workstation with dual 550MHz pentium III with 2G ram to do some monte carlo simulations. After it was retired & replaced I got to take it home, where I stiil use it. It's fast enough to deal with std TV res video (it even can - just- encode analogue tv while playing something else back) and can cope with almost everything else I need at home .. except for displaying "modern" web pages.

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Software per se cannot be patented in India.

"but by then they'll probably have to start paying Oracle/Apple/Samsung et al their patent fees for Android, at which point $35 rapidly becomes unobtainable again"

All those software patents creating havoc in the western world would be invalid in India. (In India, software per se cannot be patented). The hardware patents must be already covered by the suppliers providing the components for the "Aakash" tablet PC.

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Coat

Form Factor

Careful though, the device is reasonably rectanglish and has rounded corners and a black frame surrounding the screen. Better not tip Apple off!

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Unhappy

@mantrik00

"All those software patents creating havoc in the western world"

Sorry, I think you mean "havoc in the USA" as most of them are not valid in Europe due to the differences in what is and is not patentable. India is also quite competent to decide for itself if software can or cannot be patented, and hopefully will show greater sense than the USA in this area.

Sadly, maybe not for long before we in Europe have that time-wasting burden forced upon us.

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Re "with shipping, boxes and manuals it will ultimately cost $50"

Sorry, you've lost me there. What are manuals? Something like a quick start guide?

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yeah, sort of like a quick start guide, except containing all the relevant information on how to operate the device.

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Silver badge

Yes, a one page 'getting started' in multiple languages, is quite a book.

14 in the constitution, 22 in the courts, 415 languages according to the UN: The census of 1961 recognized 1,652 languages used in India

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Wrong country

DataWind isn't British, it's a Canadian company headquartered in Montreal. It's easy to understand the confusion though - because our pathetic wireless industry here in North America refuses to play ball, their main market is in the UK.

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Anonymous Coward

Stop the fud!

Until the details of all aspects of the patent deals are known, the liability assessment is based on a press-release.

For all we know, MS may have said, "we'll give you a cheaper license on WinMoPho if you say you've signed a patent deal." Given the HTC do produce MS phones, why would they not do that?

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Load of shit.

So if you get a cheap flight from England is it cheaper to bring a bigger one back for that horrible country?

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Bronze badge

This is a UK website so why are you headlining the prices in dollars?

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Alert

Optional

"The world's reserve currency." The dollar is the defacto basline; the default currency, I guess.

Now, if the Tea Partiers and the dithering brussels bureaucrats have their way, El Reg is going to be doing headlines in Yuan..

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