India Gives World The Cheapest Tablet Computer

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NEW DELHI – At a time when the tablet computer is the most coveted gadget in the world, India has scored a big hit at a small price tag. On Wednesday, it launched Aakash, the world’s cheapest tablet at Rs2,276 ($46) — a fraction of what the big brands cost (Rs9,900-32,000).

It’s not as powerful as your home PC. And it’s definitely not the cool, world-beating iPad. But Aakash still packs a punch and can do a lot of what the iPad does, perhaps in a slower, clunkier way.

The device, manufactured by UK-based Datawind, founded by NRI brothers Raja Singh Tuli and Suneet Singh Tuli, aims to revolutionise education and is set to be sold at a government-subsidised rate of Rs1,400 to 100,000 college students. Formally launching Aakash, HRD minister Kapil Sibal dubbed it a “device for the children of the world”.

General buyers can buy it for Rs3,000 while Datawind plans to sell the gadget in partnership with telecom operators with R99-per-month internet services.

The cost has shot up since Datawind bid $37.98 to build the computer that the government aimed for a $35 device based on a prototype developed by 170 students of IIT-Rajasthan and showcased last year.

The 7-inch touchscreen tablet comes with two full-sized USB ports, a random-access memory of 256 MB and a 366-megahertz processor.