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India is developing a 35-dollar computer for students

By Damir Beciri
4 Comments23 July 2010

india-developing-35-dollar-computerThe Indian government unveiled the world’s cheapest “laptop” computer meant for students – a touch-screen device that costs $35. Developed by researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology and Indian Institute of Science, mass production of the computer might begin as soon as next year, claims Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal, adding the government is trying to find ways to cut the price to as low as $10.

India released its pint-sized computer five years after scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced their $100 laptop for children in developing countries. The government spends just about 3 percent of annual budget on education. The literacy rate has shown steady improvement over the past few years to reach over 65 percent of India’s 1.2-billion population (pretty low, compared to China with 94 percent).

“India had developed another low-cost computing device last year but it cost about 65 dollars. This is a different model … it looks like an Apple iPad,” said Mamta Verma, a ministry spokeswoman.

The laptop has all the basic features, including seven- and nine-inch (18- and 23-centimeter) Linux-based touch screen, 2 GB of RAM memory, Wi-fi connectivity, USB ports and is powered by a 2-watt system for use in power-deficit areas. It weighs 1.5 kg (3.3 pounds), and it has ability to run on battery or solar power.

Regarding the media it supports, it has an Internet browser, a media player, a reader for PDF files and has video conferencing abilities. One drawback to the computer is that it doesn’t have a hard disk, instead, it has a memory card like a cellphone to store files.

H.P. Khincha, a professor at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, said the new low-cost computer would be beneficial as schools move to add lectures and study materials online. Already, nearly 500 web- and video-based courses have been uploaded on YouTube. However, there are some studies that claim such gadgets are detrimental in learning processes since they offer games and idling in other entertainment available on the Internet.

There is also the problem of the actual manufacturing at that price, since the developers hope someone will make an offer to make this tablet-looking gadget at such a low price. Only time will tell will this project fail completely, succeed or end like the project from MIT where actual price was two times higher than predicted.

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4 Comments — Leave your response!

  • Avatar

    There was a news item on February 03, 2009 on $10 laptop:
    India unveils $10 laptop!

    Mohammed Siddique in Hyderabad
    February 03, 2009 21:03 IST REDIFF NEWS

    The ‘world’s cheapest laptop’, developed in India,
    was unveiled by Union Minister for Human Resources
    Development Arjun Singh at the Tirupati temple on Tuesday

    The laptop, jointly developed by several organisations, such
    as the University Grants Commission, the Indian Institute of
    Technology-Madras, and the Indian Institute of
    Science, Bangalore, will be priced at around $10 to $20
    (about Rs 500 to Rs 1,000), officials said.

    S K Sinha, joint secretary in the ministry for education,
    giving a demonstration of the device which is smaller than
    the normal laptop, said that it will need some more fine-
    tuning. He said the laptop is expected to reach the market in
    about six months.

    Arjun Singh had an interaction with the vice chancellors of
    the remote states like Jammu and Kashmir and Manipur to
    prove the point that the device will be able to bring about
    high quality networking among the various institutions of
    higher education and also increase the skills of e learning of
    the students in rural areas.

    The project has already created a buzz in the laptop industry
    across the world. The laptop has 2 GB onboard memory
    with wireless Internet connectivity. To make it useful for the
    students, especially in the rural areas, the scientists have
    made it low power consuming gadget.

    The mission was launched at a huge gathering of
    academicians and the officials from across the country
    including thirty vice chancellors of central and state
    universities at the campus of Sri Venkateshwara University

    Like the National Mission on Education through ICT, the
    laptop is also aimed at improving the skills of students, both
    at the school and higher levels. Under the mission
    the government also intends to provide high-speed Internet
    access to the schools to download e-books and e-journals
    and other material. Students will be able to download
    the material through the ‘Sakshat’ portal.

    The goal of the national mission is to increase the
    enrollment in higher education in the country by 5 per cent
    over the next five years. The government will subsidise 25
    per cent of broadband connectivity costs for private and
    public colleges. The $10 laptop is being seen as India’s reply
    to One Laptop per Child’s XO and Classmate of Intel. The
    XO, created by scientist Nicholas Negroponte and MIT Media
    Lab was originally targeted to cost only $100 but by the time
    it was ready to enter the market its cost went up to $188.
    The Classmate notebook PC from Intel was priced at $
    300 a piece.

    In contrast, the Indian government’s effort to market lap top
    at only $10 has caused a flutter in the international laptop
    market and many players are curious to know the details
    of the costing and how Indians managed to keep the cost so
    low. Nicholas Negroponte is not fully satisfied with the cost
    projection. “I fear it is not serious. We’d love a $20 laptop
    but the display costs more,” he was quoted as saying.”

    Let not history repeat itself and the efforts of Shri Kapil Sibal, Union Minister for Human Resources,Government of India will be successful.

    Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India

  • Avatar

    It’s really a good news for the students, that the Indian Government has planned to launch the Touch Screen Device at just $35. Now the lower middle class people from could see their dreams comes true to buy the Touch screen device.

  • Avatar
    Article update

    India’s government was buying 100,000 of these tablets from DataWind, Canada-based manufacturer, at the price of 2,276 rupees ($46) each to be given away for free to university and college students.

    The price of what has been dubbed “the world’s cheapest computer” should fall to $35 and could even be hammered down as low as $10 (according to claims from DataWind at the launch in New Delhi).

    It is called Aakash (sky) and it has a seven-inch (18-centimetre) touchscreen, Wi-Fi Internet function, a multimedia player and 3 hours of battery power. It uses an Android 2.2 operating system and has an external 2GB storage card and two USB ports.

    Due to its lower computing power and 256 MB of random access memory (RAM), this tablet won’t be competing with other tablets in higher price range.

    With right set of applications, it could increase literacy and make learning more fun.

  • Avatar
    M A Akher

    How its possible to produce a laptop pricing only 10 $ dollars? really it is available in Indian markets? I think the government has taken an ambitious project.

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