While some may have called it too good to be true, but India’s $35 comes to market after months of delay. But the delay brings another set of good news: It gets even cheaper and better.
Aakash is world’s cheapest Tablet, a concept initiated by Indian government to help accelerate education in schools and colleges countrywide.
Aakash 2 is designed and built by Datawind. It’s the second iteration of original Aakash Tablet. Aakash 2 is a 7-inch capacitive touch tablet with 1Ghz Cortex-A8 processor, 512MB of RAM, 4GB of Flash storage, Android 4.0.3, Wifi and front facing VGA camera.
Aakash 2 Specs
- CPU: Cortex A8 1Ghz
- RAM: 512MB DDR2
- Storage: 4GB internal (expandable)
- Battery: 3000mAh
- Camera: Front (only) VGA
- Touchscreen: 7″ Multitouch Projective Capacitive
- Connectivity: Wifi, GPRS, 3G
- Ports: USB (mini USB connector instead of a full-size USB2, but you can plugin even a 3G dongle), SD card
- Sensors: G-Sensor
- Phone, SMS: The GPRS and 3G versions have native phone calling and SMS capability.
Aakash 2 would have three flavors. First one would be Wifi only, second would support GPRS/EDGE, third one would support 3G.
The Aakash tablets are initially being deployed by the Indian government in post-secondary institutions. The government has been deploying free broadband and Wi-Fi access in colleges and universities through the National Mission for Education through Information & Communication Technology (NME-ICT) and the National Knowledge Network projects. So far 600 universities and 1,200 colleges are covered.
Aakash 2 Review
Version 2 of the Aakash is a fully functional mini-tablet that basically does all the main things you expect from a tablet.
Aakash 2 UbiSlate Device feel & Speed
Aakash 2 is seriously a full revamp of the original cheap tablet. It looks better, runs better, feels better. The tablet feels much more responsive, and feels good in hands. The CPU upgrade from 366Mhz to a Cortex A8 (1GHz) makes this device a perfect device for just about anyone who is looking for an affordable solution. The improvements in performance is the key differentiator of this iteration and the credit goes to the Android 4.0.3 and doubled RAM from 256mb to 512mb. Ubislate will later be upgraded to Jellybean 4.1, but no word on when that might come.
Extending storage, Storage Options
If 4GB is too small for you, you can insert an SD card and extend the memory upto 64GB. You can also plug your USB pen drive or Hard disk into Aakash 2, as it features an USB port.
Aakash 2 is also a decent communications device, thanks to on-board speaker, microphone, and front-facing camera. You can use those for Audio or video chat but expect no magic from a VGA front facing camera that can only project ancestral 640×480 pixels.
Graphics, Video & Gaming
The device sports a good graphics processor underneath (we’re not yet sure which one). We were able to play 720p HD videos on Aakash with no lag. However, 1080p were beyond the scope. But thats understandable, it plays video beyond it’s display’s resolution.
We also had a chance to sideload few games. We were not disappointed. Games like Temple Run, Angry birds Rio, and subway surfer were super smooth. This could be a decent gaming device, but its not designed to be by any means.
Talking about screen resolution, its sub-HD, but nice to look at. The LCD/LED backlight is not too bright and display lacks contrast you would get on a good Android tablet. But for the price, the display is perfect. However, if you take it to bright light areas, especially sunlight, you will be disappointed. You can barely see anything in Sunlight.
3100mAh is what you see in Top notch Android smartphones and not exactly 7″ tablets. But the device is able to last for 3 hours of continuous usage when under average load like browsing and reading. Throw heavyloads of Gaming to it, and battery life would come down to 2-3 hours.
Aakash 2 Pricing, Availability, Where to Buy
- Aakash 2 Wifi only: Rs 1,130 (around $21) for Indian students, and $41 for non-students. $80 for outsiders.
- Aakash 2 Wifi + GPRS for Rs. 3,000 or $54.
- Aakash 2 Wifi + 3G for Rs. 4,000 or $81.
Initially Aakash units will be rolled out in Wi-Fi-enabled campuses.
Ubislate tablets — the commercial version of Aakash — with SIM (data and smartphone functionality) will have a retail price of Rs.2,999 ($54.52) for the GPRS version and Rs.4,499 ($81.80) for the 3G version. The Aakash and Ubislate tablets are also billed as the only Adroid tablets to feature DataWind’s UbiSurfer browser, which is supposed to accelerate web pages load times by factors of 10 – 30x.
The UbiSurfer technology is covered by 18 U.S. patents that allow it to deliver web pages on GPRS in about 5 to 7 seconds (compared to many minutes if web pages are accessed on GPRS using traditional means). On 3G, the speed improves to 2 to 3 seconds. GPRS network coverage is available to over 80 percent of the 1.2 billion population of India. Through a special agreement with a network operator, DataWind offers Rs.98 ($1.78)/month for unlimited internet on GPRS.
You can buy it online here.