The next version of Aakash tablet will be out in April and priced at Rs 3,999, Telecom minister Kapil Sibal has told PTI. The government had floated a tender in January for the same, indicating that the tablet should support calling, and use mobile networks for connectivity. Strangely 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.
As per the tender (download), the 7-inch tablet needs to allow talk time of 5 hours minimum, and should run on Android 4.2.1 ‘Jelly Bean’, with an option to dual-boot a Linux distro via an external SD card. It also needs to have indic language support out of the box, for reading and editing documents in Hindi, Kannada, Telugu, Malayalam, Tamil, Marathi, Guajarati, Punjabi, Bengali, Oriya, Bihari, Assamese, Bishnupriya ,Manipuri, Urdu, Sanskrit, and Devanagari scripts and languages.
Aakash project, which was conceptualized in 2010, has been mired in controversies ever since its inception. The Aakash project which was supposed to be a shining knight for the government has instead become a laughing stock worldwide. It had taken a major hit after reports surfaced that the tablet was bought off the shelves from China, instead of manufacturing or designing it in India.
With the low price the government is gunning for, it’s not clear what kind of quality the tablets will have. Though it is possible to get devices with better specs at such a low price now as opposed to two years ago, the build quality itself might suffer while trying to cut down costs. it is also worth noting that whichever company got the contract after winning the bid, might be using off the shelf tablet design from China. How else can they bring a product to market so fast?
The government had depended on UK-based Datawind to manufacture and supply the devices till now and it was confused about the status of the project in March 2013. There were even talks of government licensing the name to multiple brands, however it decided to stick to good-ol’ tender process for the fourth version of the device.
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Updated: Aakash 2 Manufactured In China And Not India: Report; Datawind Refutes Allegations