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India shows off $35 Linux tablet

Jul 23, 2010 — by Eric Brown — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 3 views

The Indian government has unveiled a prototype of a Linux-based touchscreen tablet it hopes to sell next year for $35, with hopes to eventually lower the price to $10, according to several reports. Aimed at university students in India, the tablet is equipped with 2GB of memory, a memory card slot, Wi-Fi, camera, USB ports, and a web browser, say reports.

The tablet computer was announced yesterday by India's Union Minister for Human Resource Development, Shri Kapil Sibal, according to several reports, including the Associated Press (AP) and The Hindu.

The $35 device — shown yesterday in the form of two similarly sized prototype models — will be subsidized to as low as $20 next year to make it more affordable to Indian college students, and eventually the project hopes to bring the price in at under $10, according to both sources.

As far as we know, there have been no tablets to reach the market for under $100, and the cheapest we've seen have barely scratched the $150 mark. For example, the seven-inch, Android-ready Eken M001 was seen in April in a version selling for as little as $143.

India's $35 tablet prototype, shown by India's Union Minister for Human Resource Development, Shri Kapil Sibal
Source: The Hindu
(Click to enlarge)

Notes AP writer Erika Kinetz, "The tablet would be the latest in a string of 'world's cheapest' innovations to hit the market out of India, which is home to the 100,000 rupee ($2,127) compact Nano car, the 749 rupees ($16) water purifier and the $2,000 open-heart surgery."

According to a YouTube video of Sibal's tablet press conference posted by (see farther below), the device will ship with 2GB of flash memory. It will also have a memory card slot, writes Kinetz, which would presumably give users up to at least 16GB of optional storage.

The tablet offers a color touchscreen, and both prototypes appeared to provide the same screen size, which would appear to be about seven inches diagonally. The tablet is further equipped with Wi-Fi and USB ports, according to the video, and the AP report says it includes a camera capable of videoconferencing. A solar power charging unit will be offered as an option, says the AP.

The exact flavor of Linux has yet to have been determined, but and Engadget says that an Android notification bar can be seen in the video showing one of the prototypes' screens. According to the AP, the tablet offers open source word processing and web browsing apps.

"This is our answer to MIT's $100 computer," Kapil Sibal was said to have stated at yesterday's unveiling. As noted by the AP,, the Indian government rejected the Linux-based OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) XO-1 netbook as being too expensive several years ago, and set out to build a cheaper version of its own.

OLPC, which emerged from MIT, has not managed to deliver its $100 laptop for much less than $200. However, it recently announced that it will finally hit the $99 mark with a future version of the XO, which like the Indian device, foregoes the keyboard and cover for a tablet design.

This next-generation OLPC XO-3 tablet will based on the Marvell "Moby" reference design (pictured at left) and Marvell's Armada 610 SoC. Aimed at the worldwide educational market, the Moby-based XO devices will support 1080p video encode and decode, 3D graphics, Flash 10-enabled web access, and teleconferencing, and consume only a single Watt, says OLPC.

India's tablet project was developed by universities and research institutions around India, and is part of an ambitious education technology initiative involving Linux. The government plans to bring broadband connectivity to India's 25,000 colleges and 504 universities and make study materials available online, says the AP. So far, nearly 8,500 colleges have been connected and nearly 500 web and video-based courses have been made available online.

India's $35 tablet on YouTube
(Click to play)


The Associated Press report on India's $35 tablet may be found here, and the story in The Hindu should be here. The Engadget story may be found here.

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