The tendering process for the latest version of Aakash, the Indian government’s cheap (and inexpensive) tablet project has begun. As compared to the proposed specifications released last year, the finalized specifications of Aakash IV indicate that the government wants the tablet to also support calling, and use mobile networks for connectivity: the tablet needs to support SIM cards, and allow talk time of 5 hours minimum (with LCD in standby mode, Audio speaker at a volume of 60dB and WiFi off), apart from also supporting 2G, GPRS, EDGE connectivity. What’s strange is that 3G support via SIM is not included as a spec for Aakash, although it has included data functionality with an external dongle for 3G networks.

Vendors interested can purchase and submit the tender document till 28th January 2014, 2:30 pm, following which the bids will be opened on the same day, at 3:00 pm. The 1 year contract period begins from the 1st of March 2014, and ends on 28th February 2015.

Some notes from the tender document (download):

– Eligibility: Only vendors authorized by C-DAC, the R&D wing of the Department of Electronics & IT (DEITY) are allowed to submit bids, so bidders have to get themselves empanelled with CDAC. Apart from this, they also have to be registered with the Indian government’s Directorate General of Supplies & Disposals. Bids are restricted to manufacturers who are “PMA compliant as per extant rules/notifications and their authorised agents.”
– Service & Maintenance: When selected, the the vendor shall provide repair,service and maintenance support for Aakash Tablets in atleast one location in all states and UTs of the country either through themselves or though tie-ups with a third party
– Spare parts: shall be made available for at least three years from the date of sale.
– Warranty: one year from the date of acceptance of the stores.
– Defective: “Once the user Department/Consignee states/writes that the goods supplied are defective/not functioning properly,it must be obligatory on the part of the supplier to immediatel (sic), not later than 7 days,attend to it by way of rectification/rapair (sic) or repalcement (sic) of the goods,without any questioning or pretexts on any ground.There shall be no scope of questioning the user department/consignee or resorting to any kind of verification or joint inspection in this regards,pursuant to DGS&D Manual Correction Slip No.37 dated 18.12.2012.”

Software Requirements

– Operating System: Should run on the latest stable version of Android (acc to the government, that is Android 4.2.1 ‘Jelly Bean’) and should be dual bootable with a GNU/Linux distribution (through external SD card).
– Software: PDF Viewer, E-Book Reader, text editor, a note taking app and support for office document formats like DOC, DOCX, PPT, PPTX, XLS, XLSX, ODT, ODP, ODS. Also, an e-book reader for epub and pdf files. Image-viewer supporting PNG, JPG, BMP, TIFF and GIF display; Media software that plays MP3, AAC, WAV, video formats like MPEG-2, MPEG-4, AVI, 3GP. Web-browser for HTML 5 (with audio and video tags support), xHTML 5 compliant, JavaScript 1.8 compliant. Audio/Video/Text Chat Conferencing (minimum three way) applications, separate application for online video (capable of playing at least YouTube). The department says that the tablet should also have support for Android’s DRM system. Scientific Calculator is to be pre-installed. File compression & decompression utility as part of the file manager and standalone Google Play and accessibility tool (similar to talkback) should be preinstalled.
– Device drivers for connecting the Tablet to a PC in developer mode (USB debugging) to be provided for Windows XP/Vista/7/8
– Indic Language Support: Support for reading and editing capabilities in Hindi, Kannada, Telugu, Malayalam, Tamil, Marathi, Guajarati, Punjabi, Bengali, Oriya, Bihari, Assamese, Bishnupriya ,Manipuri, Urdu, Sanskrit, and Devanagari scripts and languages. Unicode support at OS level and virtual keyboards (such as Multiling) should be pre-loaded for above languages. However, default language should be English.
– Apps: The tablet should feature a standalone online videos app which can at least play YouTube videos, a standalone HTML5 compliant web browser, an email client, calendar, a Scientific calculator and a File Manager which can archive and extract files & folders.
– Two App Stores: the Aakash tablet will finally feature Google Play Store, however the department also says that desired apps should be certified with Aakash Marketplace.
Hardware Requirements
– 2G, GPRS, EDGE connectivity. Talk time: 5 hours minimum (LCD in standby mode, Audio speaker at a volume of 60dB and WiFi off)
– Weight should be less than 500g; Width, height and thickness should be less than 7.5″, 5″ and 0.6″ respectively.
– Display: 7″ capacitive touch display with a resolution of at least 800×480 and support for a minimum five finger multi-touch points. The tablet’s dimensions should be less than 7.5” x 5”x 0.75” (Width x height x thickness) and should weigh less than 500g.
– Storage: 4GB internal flash memory with support for 32GB Micro SD cards. Note that the final tender document has removed a previous requirement of having support for NFC based SD Cards.
– Camera: 0.3 megapixel or higher front facing camera with support for video capture. Interestingly, there is no mention of a rear facing camera.
– Hardware Accelerator for playing true HD 720p at at least 30 fps.
– Processor: A processor which has 1GB DDR3 SDRAM memory and clocks a minimum quadrant score set by the government and minimum scores across various other benchmark tests like Antutu, AndEBench, PassMark Performance, RealPi, and CFBench.
– USB Ports: One USB OTG (USB On The Go) and one regular USB port which can support USB drives, keyboards, mouse, USB Hub, USB Printers, USB to ethernet adopters and support for all popular 2G, 3G and 4G Phone and Data Connectivity Dongles in India.
– Battery: A battery which can provide minimum three hours online 720p video playback or four hours offline 720p video playback, five hours of web browsing and 6 hours on e-reader mode. It should charge from 10% to 80% battery capacity within 2 hours and support charging from AC and DC sources and USB ports.
– 3.5 mm headset jack
– support for WiFi 802.11 b/g/n with portable hotspot feature,
– Bluetooth v2.1
– 3 axis Accelerator
– Hardware buttons for Power and Volume up and down.

Performance specs

– A 20 kb text-only Word (2007) file should open in 5 seconds from the file manager
– A PNG, 720p with 3M minimum file size should render in 2 seconds on clicking the file in the file manager
– Maximum cold boot time of 35 seconds
– Maximum tablet temperature during non-charging operation should be <= 45 degree Celsius at a room temperature of 25 degree Celsius 3.7 LCD touch screen withstanding a pressure of 100 gm/cm2 over full screen.
– Performance base line: Sustaining throughput >= 1 Mbps for 2 hours of line of sight distance between tablet and Access Point being 30 m
– Sustained throughput of more than 40kbps for GPRS download, 10kbps for GPRS upload, 192kbps for EDGE for 2 hours of line of sight distance between tablet and GSM base station of 1km (max).
– Minimum 3 Hrs for online 720p video playback (LCD with a brightness of 250 cd/m2, Audio speaker at a volume of 85 dB, WiFi ON with a receive signal strength between -65 dBM and -70 dBm), Minimum 4 Hrs for offline video playback (LCD with a brightness of 250 cd/m2, Audio speaker at a volume of 60 dB,WiFi OFF), Minimum 5 Hrs on web browsing (LCD with a brightness of 250 cd/m2, Audio speaker at a volume of 60 dB, WiFi ON with a receive signal strength between -65 dBM and -70 dBm, Cumulative 80MB download through repeated web page load over 5 hrs), 6 Hrs on e-reader (LCD with a brightness of 250 cd/m2, Audio speaker at a volume of 60 dB, WiFi OFF)
– Battery Charging: Should be able to charge from AC from 10% to 80% of battery capacity within 2 hours from external power adapter when the tablet is switched OFF, support charging from USB port or from DC power port with receptacle compliant to EIA-J-02 (standardizing on power connector).
– Battery life: At 25 degree centigrade, battery should have a life of 600 cycles or 2 years (whichever is earlier) with a minimum left over battery capacity of 50%. Capacity to be >= 80% at the end of 300 charge cycles, Capacity to be >= 50% at the end of 600 cycles (One cycle consists of standard charging, resting for half an hour, discharging with LCD with a brightness of 250 cd/m2, Audio speaker at a volume of 85 dB, WiFi ON with a receive signal strength between -65 dBM and -70 dBm until the tablet is turned OFF). Self discharge: Battery charge should be >= 90% even after 30 days (when the tablet is turned OFF)