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India launches cheapest tablet computing device

Wednesday October 05, 2011 07:07:58 PM, IANS

New Delhi: Aiming to bridge the digital divide in the country, India Wednesday launched the world's cheapest tablet computing device Akash costing Rs.2,250 ($46).

Around one lakh students will be able to have better access to information through the product developed jointly by the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Rajasthan at Jodhpur, and DataWind Ltd.

The tablet, christened Akash, will be made available to higher education students in India at Rs.1,125 ($23 according to days' exchange rate) per unit with the central government bearing 50 percent of the cost.

The government ultimately wants to bring down the cost of the device to less than Rs.490 ($10), Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal said.

"Akash is a milestone in history. It will bring paradigm shift in education delivery," said Sibal, adding: "The device is not only for Indian students but for those of the world."

Officials said the low-cost device would allow students in the rural areas access technology that will define the 21st century.

"People said it can't be done in India and by the Indians. We accepted the challenge," said DataWind chief executive officer Suneet Singh Tuli.

IIT Rajasthan director Prem Kalra said the prototype of the low-cost device was developed by his students.

Akash has a seven-inch Android 2.2 touch screen, Wi-Fi and can be used as an Ebook reader for access to online streaming course material and web-based research, he said.

A tablet device from HCL sells for around Rs.11,000 in the Indian market.

Sibal said the challenge for IT experts was now to generate world class content also. He appealed to the hardware industry to come forward and partner the government in manufacturing the low cost device.

N.K. Sinha, additional secretary in the HRD ministry, said no device is perfect and field trials will help improve Akash.

Said Priyanka Singh, post-graduate student at the Central University of Rajasthan, who received a unit from Sibal: "Akash will help me search latest information related to Economics."






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