An Android Tablet for $35: You Gotta Be Kidding!

by Gaurav Kheterpal on September 10, 2010

How much does it cost to build a decent tablet? Several manufacturers including Copia and Marvell have tried their luck at breaking the $100-psychological barrier for building low-cost tablets. While I appreciate these efforts, they didn’t quiet turn out to be economically feasible for mass-scale production.

In July, India’s HRD Minister Kapil Sibal (picture on the left) showcased Sakshat, an Android based $35 tablet. The instant reaction from most people was that Mr. Sibal is after all a politician and he’s playing for the camera. More so, when the Indian Government’s earlier attempt – One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) scheme only managed to produce a $200 laptop.

At a recent meeting of the national mission on education through information and communication technology, the HRD Minister set the clock ticking for the $35 Android-powered tablet launch on 11th January, 2011 (11/11/11) – an auspicious date and perhaps a noble cause. Will it be a game changing innovation in the low-cost tablet market? Let’s wait and watch.

Codenamed Sakshat (which literally means Embodiment), the low-cost tablet project has caused serious embarrassment to the Ministry of Human Resources in the past. Labeled as “India’s $10 Laptop”, the project has often landed in troubled waters due to political interference and potential conflict of interests between various stakeholders. However, it seems that the Ministry of HRD means business this time around. Computer services firm HCL Technologies Ltd will help manufacture 100,000 low-cost computers priced $35 each before 10th January, 2011. HCL is India’s largest computer manufacturer and holds the distinction of creating world’s cheapest Windows laptop, the Classmate PC.

India’s premiere educational institution – Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Rajasthan will be responsible for testing the tablets before they are sanctioned to be distributed amongst state governments and academic institutions. The initial batch of Sakshat tablets would be 8.9×7-inch touch screen devices and weighing around 1.5 kg. It is likely to have 2GB of RAM, USB ports, integrated Wi-Fi connectivity and offer basic functions like web conferencing, video, media player, Internet Browser, PDF reader, Open Office and unzip utilities. Even though the features are limited, $35 is simply an irresistible price for an Android-powered tablet. Though its target audience is university and college students, I wouldn’t mind buying one (or two for that matter).

Will the Indian Government be forced to eat its own words? Can HCL pull it off for them? I’m hopeful and skeptical at the same time. January is not too far. Your opinion on the $35 Android tablet is welcome.

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Written by: Gaurav Kheterpal. >. Follow > by: RSS>, Twitter >, >, or Friendfeed >


Dhakkanz September 13, 2010 at 7:49 am

Gaurav, I am not going to disagree to the fact that Indian government has at many a times failed to give what it has promised, but that does not mean a ‘Nano’ in computing field is impossible.

Gaurav Kheterpal September 13, 2010 at 11:14 pm

I fully agree with you. I, for one, seriously hope that the Indian Goverment & HCL can pull it off.

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