Aakash 2 launching on Nov 11, Aren’t alternatives better? [+ more questions for government]

Minister for Telecom, Kapil Sibal recently said that the latest version of Aakash tablet PC will be given to students on November 11. When the government thought up this scheme, this was quite a revolution. Wow! A tablet computer for $50? Right?

Not any more.

Akash : Cheapest Android Tablet
Akash : Cheapest Tablet? Who Pays the Price?

In about a year from the launch of the original Aakash tablet, hardware prices have crashed and similar or sometimes better devices are available at a competetive price. Why then, is the government buying thousands of these devices which are inferior to many others that sell at a similar price?

From what we have heard so far, Aakash 2, the newest version of low cost tablets from the Indian government, is essentially “Ubislate 7 C,” the device manufactured by British tablet maker Datawind. Let’s now compare the price and specs of Aakash 2 (~Ubislate 7 C) with some other low cost tablets in the market and see how it fares.

The tablet has a SIM card slot, GPRS and WiFi. It has a capacitive screen and no camera. It will have a cortex A8- 800 Mhz camera, 256 MB RAM, 2 GB Flash Memory, 3000 mAh Battery and it will run on the older Android 2.3 operating system. The retail price of Ubislate 7C, the Aakash 2 equivalent from Datawind is Rs 4,299.

Now, lets compare this with others in the market.

– Byond Mi-book Mi1 tablet sells for Rs 4250. It runs on the latest Android version, has a 7 inch capacitive screen, .3 MP camera and 1.2 Ghz Cortex A8 processor. It’s also got 4 GB internal memory, is Wi-Fi enabled. Pretty much beats the Aakash 2 on all fronts right?

– At Rs 4999, BSNL’s Penta IS701C runs the latest version of Android, has a 7 In capacitive screen. Expandable storage of 32 GB, Wi-Fi and 3G enabled with a Cortex 1 Ghz Processor and 512 MB RAM. Beats Aakash 2 again.

The Zync Z919 tablet has similar specs. There are a bunch of other tablets that sell for Rs 3,000- Rs 5,000. Now does the Aakash 2 sound all that revolutionary? Couldn’t the govt have done better by focusing on the funding for the tablets, distribution and worked with multiple vendors competing for pricing, quality and ensured a better supply?

What’s your opinion?

Recommended Read: OLPC Founder’s Advice to Indian Government – “Make an inexpensive tablet, not a cheap one.”

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