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Aakash 2 tablet still coming, to cost only $21 for Indian students and $65 for other users

August 9, 2012

After what was not exactly a big hit, many wondered if one of the world’s cheapest tablets will ever get a sequel. Made available to Indian students for the equivalent of $23, the Aakash slate was heavily criticized for its poor hardware by some, while being praised by many for giving access to technology at such a low price.

The general opinion of tech lovers was that the technology world would benefit from the launch of an Aakash 2 tablet, provided that the manufacturer was able to up the ante in terms of specs, without bumping up the price.

And as hard as such a task may be, the Aakash 2 is inching ever closer to its release. We first heard about the new tab back in April and then in June, but the device has undergone a few important changes.

First off, the price of the Aakash has been brought down even more than we initially reported, and it now seems that Indian students will get their hands on the Aakash 2 for only 1,132 rupees (around $21). That’s right, ladies and gents, for just 21 bucks (paid for by schools), young Indian people with a thirst for technology will be able to use an Android-based 7-incher that doesn’t look that bad spec-wise.

The tab won’t be available only to students, unlike the first Aakash, and a commercial version, called UbiSlate, will apparently be sold for between 3,499 and 4,299 rupees ($65-80). That’s still not a whole lot, giving the limited number of decent tablets you can purchase these days for less than a hundred bucks.

As for specs and features, after a few changes of plans and tweaks, the final version of the Aakash 2 will come much better equipped than the first-edition of the tab. Right as we reported back in June, the 7-incher will be powered by a single-core 800 MHz Cortex-A8 processor and will feature 256 MB of RAM and a 2,100 mAh battery capable of running for around 3 hours between charges.

Unlike what we knew then, though, the new Aakash will sport a glossy capacitive touchscreen with a 800 x 480 pixels resolution, which should provide a much smoother navigation than the old resistive panel, but also crisper colors and better viewing angles.

A GPRS modem and a SIM card slot will be another two new exciting features of the Aakash 2, which will come in two versions, with either 2GB or 4GB of internal storage. In either case, there’ll be a microSD card slot for expanding the memory, too.

Unfortunately, the design and the tab’s software are still set to disappoint. The Aakash 2 will come with the same rubberized black plastic that looked shallow and tacky on the first Aakash, while Android 2.3 Gingerbread doesn’t sound very cool either. There were some reports a while back that the new tab might get an ICS update soon after its release, but there’s no word about anything like that now.

Talking about release, we know nothing official on that front, but 100,000 units of the Aakash 2 are expected to hit Indian schools “over the next six months”, so it shouldn’t be much longer now.

What do you guys think of Aakash 2’s supposedly final spec sheet and pricing? Would you ever be interested in buying such a tablet? Is it too expensive? Too modestly specced?