THE BOT­TOM FALLS OUT

THE BOFFINS AT DATAWIND TAKE A SMALL STEP FOR THEIR COM­PANY, A GI­ANT LEAP FOR COM­PUT­ING DE­VICES. THEIR UBIS­LATE TABLET COMES AT A ROCK-BOT­TOM PRICE.

Gadgets and Gizmos (India) - - GG CHOICE - TEXT BY JOEL RAI & PHO­TOGRAPHS BY RA­JWANT RAWAT

First things first: You will not rave about the per­for­mance of the Ubis­late, or Aakash as the Govern­ment prefers to call it. Datawind’s 7-inch tablet comes with a sticky re­sis­tive touch dis­play, a three-hour bat­tery and no 3G con­nec­tiv­ity. The com­pany does not even call it a tablet.

That done with, now let’s come to why it is here on the GG Choice page, which fea­tures the best prod­uct of the month. Let’s just put it this way: Sud­denly, you don’t need a pricey smart­phone to be able to ac­cess so­cial me­dia sites, apps and mul­ti­me­dia, all at the same time. Yes, that is why the Ubis­late earns a place for it­self on this page. It may only be a poor rel­a­tive in the whole fam­ily en­gen­dered by the ipad, but even with its sim­plest of pow­ers, it makes the mem­bers of the smart­phones clan look up and take no­tice.

At 2,999, the Ubis­late (the govern­ment-is­sue Aakash is tagged at $35 or around 1,700) is at least a cou­ple of thou­sand ru­pees less than the most ba­sic Android phone. Even with­out 3G, it af­fords quick ac­cess to the In­ter­net via Wi-fi and GPRS (the govern­ment ver­sion does not have GPRS and speak­ers). Datawind’s patented data-com­pres­sion tech­nol­ogy makes web ac­cess via GPRS much quicker than nor­mal. Its mul­ti­me­dia ca­pa­bil­i­ties are good, with loud au­dio and clear video on its 800x480 res­o­lu­tion screen. It runs on Android v2.1 and has a 2100 mah bat­tery. Add 300 more and you will get a key­board plus pro­tec­tive case for the tablet. (And for those who re­quire such things, the 7 incher comes with two USB ports…take that ipad and Galaxy Tab!)

Why the price is im­por­tant while putting the Ubis­late in its cor­rect place in the tablet panoply is be­cause it could trig­ger a fall in the price of ba­sic ma­chines. Datawind is it­self al­ready work­ing on giv­ing the de­vice a ca­pac­i­tive screen and 3G con­nec­tiv­ity. This ver­sion will be priced around 7,000, mak­ing it, when it re­leases, the cheap­est 3G tablet in the mar­ket. The aim there­after is to bring down the price— through sheer vol­ume sales—to

3,000. In fact, Suneet Singh Tuli, CEO of Datawind, says that his com­pany is try­ing to tweak costs to make the ca­pac­i­tive screen avatar of the Govern­ment’s Aakash avail­able for the same price as the cur­rent re­sis­tive screen ver­sion. It can dare such a thing be­cause, thanks to the Union HRD Min­istry, it has guar­an­teed sales of 1,00,000 units. Add to that the numbers from the com­mer­cial re­tail of the Ubis­late. Then think of where such a pric­ing would leave the ex­pen­sive smart­phones or the mid-range tablets.

The pro­tec­tive case-cum-

key­board holder al­lows the

Ubis­late to be po­si­tioned

up­right for easy view­ing and

op­er­a­tions.

For a small

additional sum, you

can get a key­board that

at­taches to the Ubis­late

via a USB port.

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