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Education Handhelds Portables Linux

India's $35 Tablet Computer 294

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."
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India's $35 Tablet Computer

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  • Nice Job (Score:3, Insightful)

    by klingens ( 147173 ) on Friday July 23, 2010 @10:16AM (#33002610)

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

  • Bad FA (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Friday July 23, 2010 @10:20AM (#33002674) Homepage Journal

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

  • by S.O.B. ( 136083 ) on Friday July 23, 2010 @10:29AM (#33002778)

    Again India, they try to produce super cheap stuff nobody real wants. Why would I buy their junk, when 2nd hand stuff in my country cost the same and is much better? I can already get a 2nd hand PC for almost nothing, but since I earn enough, I want to spoil myself.

    India isn't trying to sell you anything. From the article:

    The project is part of an ambitious education technology initiative, which also aims to bring broadband connectivity to India's 25,000 colleges and 504 universities and make study materials available online.

  • by SLot ( 82781 ) on Friday July 23, 2010 @10:30AM (#33002798) Homepage Journal

    It may suck compared to what you and I are used to, but it's better than nothing at all.

    I imagine those that will be using them will sing a slightly different tune than you do.

  • Innovation! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by artgeeq ( 969931 ) on Friday July 23, 2010 @10:35AM (#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 (

    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:At that price.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sznupi ( 719324 ) on Friday July 23, 2010 @10:40AM (#33002942) Homepage

    Why? Plentiful electricity is a much bigger issue in India. It's bound to be frugal with energy, most likely having some ARM, etc.

  • by IANAAC ( 692242 ) on Friday July 23, 2010 @10:48AM (#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.

  • Re:AP link (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 23, 2010 @10:50AM (#33003050)

    How exactly would a tablet without a touchscreen work? I think they call that a picture.

  • by pandrijeczko ( 588093 ) on Friday July 23, 2010 @10:55AM (#33003112)

    I think you need to keep yourself better informed.

    Firstly, the salary for an IT job in India is somewhere around 15-20% what it is here in the UK - even so, someone on that salary in India is earning a good wage. It therefore makes sense that electronics goods would also be proportionately priced.

    Secondly, there is a stronger cultural link between wealth and status in India - a man on a high salary will have have no shortage of potential wives knocking at his door - but they are also less materialistic than us. Therefore, the importance you and I might place on the functionality of a device is perhaps less important to an Indian. So please don't judge everyone else by our standards.

    Thirdly, India is not known for exporting high-tech goods to the West, it is a country aimed at providing a cheaper-to-hire English-speaking service industry workforce to the West. And because I detect some sour grapes over outsourcing in the tone of your message, please target your wrath at the rich Western CEOs pocketing the cost differential between hiring staff in the USA or Europe than in India - after all, if somebody offered you a higher paid job than what you're in at the moment, you'd at least consider it even if you didn't take it. So why should anyone in India be any different?

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

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 23, 2010 @10:58AM (#33003138)

    Just don't be surprised then [sic] the electricity bill will be [sic] much higher then [sic] using some modern hardware.

    What information do you have that would remotely support this conclusion?

    To make a $35 laptop, they don't have a huge R&D effort making their own parts to compete with Intel and Corsair. They're going to use commodity (read: cheap, reliable, off-the-shelf) components (motherboard, cpu, ram, etc.) that are Linux-supported -- or close enough to be able to add support without too much effort.

    Considering that they're going to have a solar-powered option -- with solar power generating about 10-watts per sq ft -- how big exactly did you imagine this laptop?

    The basic formula for posting on a forum is:

    1) Think.
    2) Type.

    You missed a step.

  • Re:Why computers? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by pankajmay ( 1559865 ) on Friday July 23, 2010 @11:05AM (#33003206)
    True. But how do you eliminate hunger and poverty?

    The middle-class in India thinks it is by education. Which happens to be largely correct. Poverty and hunger are not isolated problems individually, they are usually the result of:
    • Extreme crunch on resources and intense competition. (Remember this is the second most populous nation on this earth and smaller in size than USA)
    • Social factors (Yes, untouchability; caste system, which are still a big problem in rural India)

    How would you then eliminate those? By providing opportunities; by opening up avenues; by making people aware that the world has a lot of other things which they can explore to realize, recognize their own talents, and empower themselves. So these kind of computer/technology distribution helps. Maybe not directly, but surely in a forceful way.

    Hey, I would say that if India does manage to get it out of the marketing hype, this should be mass-produced, (maybe talents from here in USA can make it even more better by applying current advances) and sold universally to every country where people struggle.

  • by Darkness404 ( 1287218 ) on Friday July 23, 2010 @11:15AM (#33003342)
    Anytime that the government gets involved, it leads to unsustainable projects with no real market, no real innovation, and poor implementation to get a government contract and free money.

    Look at Ethanol, sounds great, gas from plants, renewable and good for the environment... Except for the fact it takes more energy to make it than the ethanol contains. But of course the government subsidizes it which leads people to grow corn for ethanol rather than for feed and so taxpayers not only have to pay higher food costs but also have to pay for the subsidizes for a project that makes no sense.

    Rather than looking towards good ways to tap a market, government involvement leads to lower quality and total disregard for the target market.
  • Re:Why computers? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 23, 2010 @11:29AM (#33003524)

    Indeed, why? Use your brains motherfucker.

    1) Do not measure everything in Daaaaalarrrrrs. Get out of your American Pond. 500 Daaaalarrrs is equal to around 23000 rupees, which is enough to keep one decently clothed and fed, in INDIA, with INDIA's costs of living.

    2) Developing technology and putting money in technology is the greatest way of creating jobs and reducing poverty. Are you one of those douchebags that wave placards against NASA?

  • by Lord Ender ( 156273 ) on Friday July 23, 2010 @12:49PM (#33004488) Homepage

    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?

  • Re:At that price.. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by blue_teeth ( 83171 ) on Friday July 23, 2010 @01:02PM (#33004650)

    Indian here. Ditto. Sign me up for equal number.

    I've heard similar noise on Simputer years before. While I wish the project my best, I fail to see how it can be delivered.
    Again, check on Simputer story.

    --./me goes back puttering on his Thinkpad

Someday your prints will come. -- Kodak