Slashdot stories can be listened to in audio form via an RSS feed, as read by our own robotic overlord.

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Education Handhelds Portables Linux

India's $35 Tablet Computer 294

Posted by kdawson
from the take-that-olpc dept.
NotBornYesterday was one of many readers sending in news that the Indian government has announced it is helping to develop a $35 tablet computer running Linux. "India has unveiled the prototype of a $35 basic touchscreen tablet aimed at students, which it hopes to bring into production by 2011. The government plans to subsidize the tablets so the cost to students could be $20; and eventually, they hope the cost will fall to $10 per unit. India's human resource development minister, Kapil Sibal, says, 'The motherboard, its chip, the processing, connectivity, all of them cumulatively cost around $35, including memory, display, everything.' Using a memory card instead of a hard drive, and running a Linux OS, the designers have managed to keep the price low, and are now looking for manufacturing partners. The tablet can be used for functions like word processing, Web browsing, and video conferencing. It has a solar power option too, which is important in India's less developed areas, though that add-on costs extra."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

India's $35 Tablet Computer

Comments Filter:
  • At that price.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Walterk (124748) <{gro.mca} {ta} {telbud}> on Friday July 23, 2010 @09:16AM (#33002608) Homepage Journal

    Sign me up for one. Maybe 5.

    • Re:At that price.. (Score:5, Informative)

      by anirudh vij (1119177) on Friday July 23, 2010 @10:12AM (#33003298)
      And here's the official website http://www.sakshat.ac.in/ [sakshat.ac.in]
    • by kimvette (919543)

      Why, are you imagining a beowulf cluster of them?

  • Nice Job (Score:3, Insightful)

    by klingens (147173) on Friday July 23, 2010 @09:16AM (#33002610)

    Now the only question left is: when does it come to a shop near me?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by aicrules (819392)
      Much like the super cheap car, once it comes to 1st world countries like the U.S. all of the pesky requirements like product safety will add a 300%+ premium to it. You may appreciate not absorbing your daily dose of lead or radiation, or having the possibility of the whole thing exploding, but if those things don't bother you, probably worth importing them yourself!
  • by Pojut (1027544) on Friday July 23, 2010 @09:16AM (#33002614) Homepage

    ...but what kind? TFA didn't make any mention of it (or any specs, for that matter). Anyone have any additional info on this thing?

    • by sznupi (719324) on Friday July 23, 2010 @09:35AM (#33002868) Homepage

      I guess it could have just as well an UI like ATMs or, basically, many "feature phones" - buttons around the screen (is it even color? Or maybe just CSTN, etc.?) corresponding to functionality. That would complicate some stuff of course - but it could even have a full mini keyboard? (mobile phone style? Kindle has it) Throw in USB for some external one, they're inexpensive.

      Or perhaps touchscreens have become in reality cheap enough, we just aren't allowed to experience it... (certainly it seems they can potentially become cheaper? - massively easier mechanical design, not much addition of electroncic stuff)

      I'm really glad from this announcement (and XO-3) - they show what the price really can be. Now, hopefully this category of devices won't be derailed a bit, like what basically happened to netbooks so far...

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by DragonWriter (970822)

        I'm really glad from this announcement (and XO-3) - they show what the price really can be.

        Well, for some definition of "really can be". This seems to be very simil to the same thing that India first announced as a $10 laptop, then revealed not to be a laptop but to be some kind of device with storage and an LCD screen but no keyboard and actually be likely to cost $30. Now its a tablet with a hoped-for initial $35 price -- without any manufacturer lined up, and with nothing cited supporting the $35 price

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by anirudh vij (1119177)
      No specs released yet. All thats certain is that it has a touchscreen,internet access (wifi), usb ports, and a form factor thats something like a smallish rectangular ipad
  • AP link (Score:4, Informative)

    by jav1231 (539129) on Friday July 23, 2010 @09:17AM (#33002628)
    Do go to the AP link if you want to "see" it. Funny that they start their story, "It looks like an iPad." The next line should have been, "But I guess you'll never know."

    Pics are on the second link here: http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/asiapcf/07/23/india.thirty.five.dollar.laptop/ [cnn.com]
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by jav1231 (539129)
      Do=Do not...I for suck.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by OeLeWaPpErKe (412765)

      Pics are still less than satisfactory. What goes into this design, and what are the catches ? Slow as hell ? No touchscreen ?

      Incidentially the second part of the article is (potentially) revealing :

      "The aim is to reach such devices to the students of colleges and universities, and to provide these institutions a host of choices of low-cost access devices around Rs 1,500 ($35) or less in near future," the human resources ministry said at the launch of the computer.

      Meaning it's not this tablet that's $35, it's just that they're working on devices like that. Could this mean that they don't actually have device schematics for this device at $35 ?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Dr.Dubious DDQ (11968)
        Thanks for that link, with not only pictures, but some useful specs:
        "According to the details,the tablet will come in three versions of 5, 7, and 9 inches display. It will be packed with 2 GB RAM memory, wi-fi connectivity, USB port and powered by a 2-watt system to suit poor power supply areas. It will laso have apps like internet browser, PDF reader, video conferencing facilities, open office, sci-lab, media player, remote device management capability, multimedia input-output interface option, and multip
  • Bad FA (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mcgrew (92797) * on Friday July 23, 2010 @09:20AM (#33002674) Homepage Journal

    No specs at all. How fast is its processor? How much memory? Is it touch enabled? TFA doesn't say.

    • by Chrisq (894406)
      For that price I'd get one anyway!
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by rotide (1015173)
        I'm going to have to agree. For $35 I'd pick one up just to see what it does. Even if I had to get a wireless kb/mouse to use it, it would still be an interesting toy. The funny part is, the wireless kb/mouse combo might cost more than the tablet!
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by tophermeyer (1573841)

          Could not agree more. $35 for this would be incredible, at this price point it is even more attractive than simple e-readers. Like any other tablet this is perfect for portable internet browsing. But at this cheap price I would be more comfortable taking it into the kitchen to read recipes or out to the garage to review car repair walkthroughs, those are things I would not do with a $600 iPad.

          Though one point I wasn't exactly clear on in the article was the subsidy that India would provide to students

          • by rotide (1015173)

            "India has unveiled the prototype of a $35 basic touchscreen tablet aimed at students, which it hopes to bring into production by 2011. The government plans to subsidize the tablets so the cost to students could be $20; and eventually, they hope the cost will fall to $10 per unit."

            Sounds like the unit actually costs $35 to make in India.
            With initial subsidy: $20
            Cost drop with sustained subsidy: $10 hopefully (cheaper parts, etc)

            You know it won't be a great PC for $35, but if it has WiFi, does basic web br

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        I would too, but I'm still curious as to what the specs are.

  • by pecosdave (536896) * on Friday July 23, 2010 @09:28AM (#33002760) Homepage Journal

    but at least my dream of having a stack of "PADDs" piled up on my desk (Star Trek TNG style) may finally come true!

    I have the communicator, now for a working tricorder.....

  • Innovation! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by artgeeq (969931) on Friday July 23, 2010 @09:35AM (#33002870)

    I think this is a big deal. Who really believes that outsourcing technology operations to India and China does not have a long-term consequence? With time, India and China will become innovators -- if they have not already. Reportedly, China has already built the world's second-fastest supercomputer, and is fabricating its own chips (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/01/science/01compute.html).

    Imagine, now, young people thoughout the world writing software. What platform would they choose? If I was growing up in India and had an accessible computer for $35, I probably would not want to pay a whole lot more for a Windows computer.

    Maybe this tablet does not quite have it right, technologically. But it is a step forward and an indication of intention on the part of the Indian government.

    • Re:Innovation! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by pankajmay (1559865) on Friday July 23, 2010 @09:49AM (#33003038)
      Rightly said!
      This is simply an example of countries trying to develop themselves and their resources. It may be shitty compared to what is available in the developed world, but its a start -- we have all paid through our noses for costly micro-processing power that sometimes are pathetically underutilized doing tasks such as browsing and occasional document composition.

      Though I am aware that the original article is sorely lacking details, and it seems more a marketing hype, but even if they manage to do take off with this, it will be marvelous and a little help to millions who at this point cannot even hope to achieve a life with basic necessities, leave alone sitting comfortably ordering a powerful computer.

      This is not for Americans, nor should it be expected that the hardware would be any comparable to what is considered minimal in America, but its a start; an attempt to introduce a bit of technology so people who would otherwise have no chance to even aim for a middle-class life are empowered.
      • Re:Innovation! (Score:4, Interesting)

        by StormReaver (59959) on Friday July 23, 2010 @11:21AM (#33004150)

        This is not for Americans, nor should it be expected that the hardware would be any comparable to what is considered minimal in America, but its a start; an attempt to introduce a bit of technology so people who would otherwise have no chance to even aim for a middle-class life are empowered.

        It should be. I have customers running my software at their office for whom this would be an ideal system for their employees to use in the field. It doesn't have to be a high-powered computer. It just has to be powerful enough to run a field version of my software, and have functioning wireless or an Ethernet port (either will work).

        If the unsubsidized price is low enough, this would have great small business marketability in the U.S.

      • Re:Innovation! (Score:4, Interesting)

        by gbjbaanb (229885) on Friday July 23, 2010 @11:24AM (#33004184)

        This is not for Americans

        Well, it will be. once someone's gathered the venture capital finance to acquire a company set up specifically to purchase, import, sell for $200, and (most important) squirrel the profits away in a tax-efficient, highly-leveraged off-shore subsidiary.

        Isn't that the American Way?

    • by cgenman (325138)

      I had a friend who was working on dynamically changing advertising screens, but the costs were prohibitive. Assuming a retail markup, a 70 dollar screen-with-wifi jammed under a big block of plexiglass might enable them to do a lot.

      Similarly, museums and tours could hand people tablets as they came in, and collect them on the other side. One broke? Whatever, just grab another one off a rack.

      A touchscreen computer this small would be great for Point Of Sale in Mexico, as people who normally conduct all tr

    • I think this is a big deal.

      Did you think it was a "big deal" and "innovation" last year when India announced they would make a $10 tablet?

      Do you remember how that turned out?

  • It has a solar power option too, which is important in India's less developed areas,

    I predict that the added cost of the satellite phone link up will be a show stopper.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by BangaIorean (1848966)
      Well, this might sound paradoxical, but actually, even 'less developed areas' in India have cellphone connectivity. Those backward areas have patchy electricity supply - the power goes off for almost 10-15 hours per day, on average, in some backward areas. But there is hardly any part of the country that is not covered by GSM cellphones. Sounds paradoxical, but that's how it is - almost everyone carries a phone. Given that, I guess they'll browse through the GSM signal...
  • I can easily believe that they could get the bill of materials cost down to $35, but...

    That doesn't mean it costs $35: manufacturing adds a lot. The cheapest mobile phone (which has roughly the same part cost except the screen is VASTLY cheaper) is still $50 unsubsidized.

    • Uhm... Maybe in the States with a very messed up mobile phone market...

      I know you can get Nokias for under 30 bucks...

      http://direct.tesco.com/q/R.209-1392.aspx - alcatel do one for 15 bucks. Bluetooth, Colour screen... This is with the manufacturer and the store making a profit.

      Don't think profit is the driver on this project though.
      • by badfish99 (826052)

        They'll be making a loss at that price, though. They'll make their profit from the cost of the calls. You can't do that trick with a computer.

  • The way things are going it is only a matter of time before we start to see interactive packaging - and therefore greater penetration by advertisers...
  • by Robotron23 (832528) on Friday July 23, 2010 @09:47AM (#33003012) Homepage

    I found myself having fainted for dehydration outside a small village in Uttar Pradesh. I came to but was apparantly delirious, blathering wildly about my deadlines - but it was my gestures which were to change my life from there on. My hands, so used to typing out at the desk, had begun to reanact keystrokes in the same manner as the fellow who plays Mozart's hands dash across the pianoforte keys in Amadeus.

    A peasent stumbled across my slumped corpse; he last asked me what I was doing in a business suit in the glaring heat of the northern hemisphere in late June (this was about a month ago) . Fortunately he had water, and was able to drag me in to a nearby village. I apparantly spoke about all sorts of computing stuff. I even confessed I dreamt I left comments on tech sites but woke up of course to find none - sombrely the young man, a mere kid in his 20s, got up and left without even a word.

    The man knew what was up; after my delirium had passed and I was coherant - a small, $35 Indian Tablet Computer lay infront of me. 'It is the best thing we can do instead of a keyboard' - said Ranvir, who had taken the exact funds from my wallet in exchange for it in the local tech market close to the Ganges. It was then my capitalist attitude morphed into a centre-left smorgasbord from a simple act of kindness. Of course it didn't make economic sense to rescue my incapicitated husk...it did not square with the Rand stuff I'd worshipped so libertarianistically.

    Upon squaring together an Internet connection with mere gaffer tape and a mini-co axial carefully hammered into the 3.5mm audio jack...I was on. The world opened up, and as I sat in that little squalid shack which was my temporary home...blogging became something completely new. The egoistic, day-to-day mundane became the selfless and vivid recollection of events in the village who had granted me honorary citizen status. I got to know what broadband would feel like at 56k speed, but not due to poor latency...but instead economy components. Upon blogging my experience with the good samaritan and the villagers, a commenter posted:

    "Hey man you should be like the chieftain or leader or some crap? Lead these folks into a revolutionary tech thing! -- Lance"

    It was that night that I near-emptied my bank account buying 200 Tablets at $35 - that's $7000 bucks. I gave a tablet to every villager bar a few spares. It was then I set about making speeches about online rights. Having educated the villagers to open source rights, technology issues, we set about changing the world. Our first stop was a pilgrimage to the Nepalese steppes to sabotage a Dalai Lama press conference for publicity, but as about fifty of us packed up to go I received a call from David in editorial back home - my HTC Android! It was still on!

    "Pete? Pete. Hi we need you back here in England as soon as possible there's a few urgents things to cover. Can you fly back tomorrow afternoon?"

    A tear had already dropped from my face to the Tablet on the nearby bed. Two villagers had entered and were looking at me intently as I had my conversation in English: "Yeah, yeah I can make it...can you wire some cash over; I had some unexpected expenses and..."

    Dave was in a hurry and brusque: "Okay, money will be in your account within a few hours. Be back here Tuesday morning - deadlines to fill and all that. Your computer has been pining for you I swear....later man."

    Tablet PCs in India changed my life, and though my plans to become the head of a village failed and the depression built upon leaving...the experience shall never leave me.

    • You are a satirical bastard with too much talent.

      Thanks for the enjoyable read.

      -FL

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Lord Ender (156273)

      I've been to rural Indian villages. If you give these guys computers, most of them will sell them to buy new axles for their ox carts or whatever. Most of these people can't read, so what could they do with a computer?

  • by IANAAC (692242) on Friday July 23, 2010 @09:48AM (#33003022)
    Whether they're Android, Meego, Win7, whatever.

    I can't be the only one that's tired of hearing about them. And I'm willing to bet that the majority of them will never be in production.

    Then again, I'm firmly in the netbook camp, so a tablet wouldn't appeal to me.

  • by PPalmgren (1009823) on Friday July 23, 2010 @09:58AM (#33003140)

    If outsourcing has taught me anything, this is going to BSOD unless you follow the step-by-step script that comes with the tablet.

  • At $35 a piece... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by grumpyman (849537) on Friday July 23, 2010 @10:06AM (#33003214)
    Compare to this [aliexpress.com] which is at $85 in volume without shipping, I'm not sure how it can get the cost down to $10. Some very cheap ARM with integrated flash/ram still cost $10.
  • This is wonderful. Talk about crashing through the $100 floor. Was nice when desktops smashed through the $1000 floor.

    And there's still much waste in PC design. Look at the size of an average notebook versus a typical desktop, There's huge overprovisioning everywhere in the desktop. Computers have been in our faces for so long that we're not only accustomed to them taking substantial space, we practically demand it. Admit it, contemptuous thoughts about slowness, limitations, and compromises flit thr

    • by Culture20 (968837)

      And there's still much waste in PC design. Look at the size of an average notebook versus a typical desktop, There's huge overprovisioning everywhere in the desktop. Computers have been in our faces for so long that we're not only accustomed to them taking substantial space, we practically demand it.

      That space directly translates into sturdiness. Laptops overheat and die sooner than desktops, unless the desktops are packed tight like laptops (iMacs) then the desktops die sooner.

    • by rotide (1015173)
      PC's are built using standard form factors. This allows PC's to have parts easily changed out and/or replaced. Crunching it down as tight as possible would eliminate a lot of choices for upgrades and probably just make it a proprietary device with proprietary components. If that's what you're after, there are many proprietary choices on the market today.
    • Fool me once... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by DragonWriter (970822) on Friday July 23, 2010 @10:53AM (#33003802)

      This is wonderful. Talk about crashing through the $100 floor.

      Or not. Last year, Indian officials announced a $10 laptop for the masses, which turned out to be much more than $10, and nowhere close to a laptop [indiatimes.com].

      I wouldn't expect much from their "$35 tablet" announced when the OLPC XO-3 tablet is getting some attention.

  • If this thing truly costs $35 it's likely not much better than a calculator. Anything more than that and it didn't actually cost $35. Either someone's eating the cost or the government is subsidizing it.

    And for this sort of thing it's always smarter and cheaper to go with something off the shelf. The money wasted on the OLPC project would have been better finding an existing cheap computer. Better yet, that money should have been used improving the quality of schools and education. Computers aren't some kin

    • by rotide (1015173)
      Exactly, why innovate or come up with new ideas when there are old things that could potentially do the same thing! You're seriously arguing that they should be purchasing $50-100 desktops and locking them up instead of spreading around $35 ultra portable tablets?
  • at that price it's resistive touch. if you wanted a palm pilot you can pick one up on ebay for about $20.

  • Hmm (Score:5, Funny)

    by jav1231 (539129) on Friday July 23, 2010 @10:25AM (#33003456)
    1. Build a prototype mock-up.
    2. Hold press conference about a $35 tablet running Linux.
    3. Wait for Microsoft to offer $$$ to switch to Windows.
    4. Profit
    ??
  • USB port = keyboard?

    If so, I'm buying one.

Any given program, when running, is obsolete.

Working...