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back to article India's low cost tablet dream lives on with Aakash IV

The Indian government is pushing ahead with plans for a new and improved low-cost Aakash tablet for students which it hopes will reinvigorate a project hit by countless delays. The technical specs of the proposed Android-based Aakash IV have been posted to the web sites of the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) and …

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Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY)

That's among the best government department acronyms I've seen.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DeitY)

goes with the "Our Cash" tablet very well then ;-)

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Coat

Could do better with the name.

Who would not want an Al'kesh in their pocket.

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Device not good enough?

Well if it can do 720 playback then a it has similar power to all the servers that ran a 300 person organisation I worked at about 9 years ago - that was pretty comprehensive ERP system.

Has software really got so shit since then

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Re: Device not good enough?

"Has software really got so shit since then"

...Yes...

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Fearing the worst?

Given the stated prices, the margins on this must be paper-thin, can't be more than pennies per unit. I'd be interested to know if Datawind actually made any profit on the project so far. Even if the actually manage to ship millions of units, it may not amount to much in terms of profit, so I'm thinking Datawind might not actually be all that bothered if they don't get the contract for the next version.

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FAIL

Re: Fearing the worst?

The cost to students is subsidised, incurs no duties or taxes, and also involves distribution by the government, so you there's no distribution costs and reseller margins. Accordingly the circa $25 quoted isn't a commercial price. If you buy one yourself, (branded for non-state sales as a Ubislate 7Ci) it will cost you $67 shipped in India, but if you want it here you'll have to get it here, and pay any import duties. Imported wholesale you'd have to pay VAT and reseller margins of say 25% as well. Assume you can pack, ship, market, and have local warranty support for $15 a unit, and assume they can dodge import duties. That's ($67 + $15)*1.25*1.2 or $123

$123 is still cheaper than the circa $200 for a Nexus 7, but would you really want a low spec "me too" slate, assembled in a location with no established electronics expertise, and tied to the Datawind app store? Three hour battery life, 800*480 resolution, and 512 MB of RAM, anyone?

Like so many "if only we could make it without a profit margin" projects (OLPC and others), the projects always end up late, more expensive than hoped, and functionally two generations behind the current commercial products. In the Indian case, the problems were exacerbated by demanding local manufacture - the objective should have been cheap, good tablets for students sourced from the most efficient and cooperative maker. The people to go to were probably Asus, rather than some unheard of outfit with no experience. That said, the Indian government's approach is not much different to the British governements attempts to support technology industries, leading to wasted money for (in the longer term) no useful output. Rember the Philips TV plant in Wales, now long gone, or the LG or Panasonic plants at Newport? Thought not - but all incentivised with public money..

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Did Datawind forget the big brown envelope this time?

This thing is a joke. Cheap Chinese fondleslabs can be acquired for not much more.

If they were serious about building an indian tablet they should have thrown money at engineers to create an Indian electronics industry that designs and builds. They have the knowledge and they have the money and the legacy is that you now have a home grown industry that relies on smart workers.

Then again this is India where millions starve but the military gets nukes(they had no issue bootstrapping that industry).

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Re: Did Datawind forget the big brown envelope this time?

Cheap Chinese tablets are horribly built toys. I had two - neither lasted more than a few weeks in ordinary use before the screen was destroyed by a minor bump that any decent device would have taken in its stride. For educational use you can afford to save money by using last generation tech. Build quality on the other hand is not negotiable.

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Nothing wrong with resistive, each type has their advantages and disadvantages. Best of all are capacitive screens that now offer best of both worlds (working with pens, and gloves), but I doubt we'd see that on a low cost device.

Big problem is if the software/OS is written to assume multitouch is present. Well designed UIs shouldn't (as then there are other advantages, e.g., being able to use the device one handed, at least for smaller devices). I wish Google would roll out the one-touch-zoom method that's in Maps out to the entire Android OS.

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Out of Date

"Dual bootable through an external SD card" to get Ubuntu? That is so out of date!

Since Android runs on top of a stripped-down Linux system, just replace that by a full Linux system. Have it boot up into Android, but add an icon to the screen to click on to push Android out of the way, and start running Linux.

It won't even be necessary to remove the Start button from the Linux desktop. So they'll be caught up with Windows 8.1!

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What happened to number III?

Or have they skipped that part and gone straight for the gritty reboot?

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