The Indian Government’s $35 Aakash Tablet announced with great fanfare has received a mixed response from the Indian media, right from complaints about the build quality of the device, to lack of connectivity, low battery life and non availability of content. However, the device was reviewed by US website VentureBeat, which did not dismiss it and said that it had potential in a market like India. We can’t comment on it unless we get to try it, and are looking to buy one, so if anyone wants to sell theirs, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Here are some initial reactions from those who have tried it:
Venture Beat: that UniSurfer browser, which is supposed to make webpages process faster to compensate for the slower processor and connection speeds, has very poor reaction time, saying “Scrolling, for example, is a swipe-and-wait affair”. A YouTube clip watched was fast and clear, with no hiccups. Its battery power is limited to 180 minutes of use on a full charge, but it comes with an AC adapter. Given the power situation in India, 180 minutes on a full charge is rather low, but it’s better than most laptops. It appears they’ve saved on costs by not adding speakers, so there is a port for headphones. It has two USB ports for a keyboard and if you want it, an external hard dive. The laminated screen appears to be there to enable rough use – “dirt, dust and moisture”. Read more at Venture Beat
The Statesman: says that students using the device are complaining of it overheating (within 10 to 30 minutes), extra slow processing, frequent hangs, poor sound quality, lack of camera or user-friendly touchscreen, absence of support for all formats, and inability to install free software available online. “While watching a video fullscreen, users cannot go back or abort seeing it midway; it hangs and does not shut down even after pressing the button and the battery gets exhausted by the time the device starts functioning again”. Another student says that the battery lasts only about two hours and its recharging process is also slow and it gives no indication if the battery is charged or not. Read more at The Statesman
Firstpost/ CNN IBN: says that it has a standard chip, the workmanship is shoddy, its circuit board is held together by electric tape and the wires used inside are cheap circuit wires (and not data cables). While Aakash has some good features like instant Facebook access, an application to create and edit docs, games and a calender-cum-adviser. Apart from the lack of responsiveness of the screen and heating, FirstPost also points out that it only uses WiFi, so travelling or being stuck in a space that does not have WiFi access may be an impediment. In addition, there is no multitasking, and not including the Android Market is a drawback. Read more at Firstpost
Livemint: Osama Manzar of the DEF says that to make use of good multimedia content, you need powerful machines, not cheap and underperforming ones, and usage needs to be monitored and content is needed. Suggests that teachers and the school management staff need to be given the tablets to monitor the function of the school, rather than assuming that students will buy them. There need to be apps and content created by the ministry of HRD. Read more at Livemint
Nikhil adds: On the points that Osama Manzar makes in his article in Mint, I don’t agree. I’d rather leave app development to the developers than the Indian government, which is why an Android Market integration would have been useful. I’d also like to have seen content from The Khan Academy integrated with the tablet. I think it’s better to give students the tablet rather than the teachers, because if they’re both digitally challenged, teachers will be a problem not a solution and the students will learn to use the device faster than the teachers.