If there’s one thing we’ve always known about technology in general and Android devices in particular, that was their potential for greatness and ability of breaking boundaries and pushing education forward.
Unfortunately, while we’ve seen numerous noble endeavors planned and scheduled in the last few years to make mobile technology available to the masses and especially towards educational purposes, these have all had one thing in common – they’ve been bound for failure.
We all remember the initial excitement surrounding the Aakash, an Android tablet that the Indian government promised was going to be available to millions of students across the country for the equivalent of $35. And we also remember that nothing went as planned…
It was thus only natural to be skeptical when we heard that an Aakash 2 tab was in the works, with our suspicions growing while plans were being changed and deadlines moved back and forth. Still, it seems that the second gen slate will become reality after all and it will actually be everything the first gadget was supposed to and more.
Not only will the Aakash 2 price be extremely competitive for Indian students – just INR 1,132, or $21 – but it will also come with a significantly upgraded spec sheet. Now don’t be expecting any quad-core power or a “Retina” display out of this baby!
Instead, what students will be getting is a single-core 1 GHz Cortex A8 processor, 512 MB of RAM, a 7-inch capacitive display with 800 x 480 pixels resolution, 4 GB of on-board storage, microSD support, USB 2.0, a 3,000 mAh battery, Wi-Fi, and a VGA front-facing camera. On top of it all, there’ll be Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, though we don’t really know if this will be customized or forked in any way.
Let me stop you right there and tell you that I know what you’re thinking. That spec sheet has 2010 written all over it. And anyway you look at that CPU, or the display, or the battery, they’re all definitely lower end than low end. But at $21 they’re pure gold! Not to mention that the Aakash 2 will be an educational device, meaning users won’t or shouldn’t be worried about how smooth will Need for Speed: Most Wanted run on the tab.
Unlike the first Aakash, this second tablet is not planned to reach “millions” of students right away. However, there are already 244 Indian engineering colleges that should receive a limited number of slates over the next weeks and that will work as the first remote centers for the “Aakash in Education” program. Much less ambitious, but it’s definitely a start, right?
As for outsiders, these can already purchase their own dirt-cheap tablets, though non-students will have to cough up some extra dough. The UbiSlate, as the Aakash 2 is known outside colleges, goes for Rs. 4,499 ($82), with the exact same spec sheet as the educational tab, or for Rs. 3,499 ($64), with a resistive screen replacing the capacitive panel.
Another two models, the UbiSlate 7R+ and 7C+ should go on sale soon, being at this time only available for pre-order, at Rs. 3,999 and Rs. 4,799. None of the four tabs can be purchased from outside India.
So, what do you guys think of the Indian government’s insistence with this bold and noble Aakash project? Will they do it this time around? How about the commercial versions of the tab, do you want them to make it outside India?